So what was your favorite part of the trip?

May 29, 2007 at 12:31 am 2 comments

The Ghibli Museum!  It was what I was looking forward to the most before I left and was incredibly happy that I was able to buy tickets in Toronto before I left.

The museum is located in Mitaka in Tokyo and we decided to walk from the train station.  (There is a bus that runs from the station to the museum, but it’s a fast walk.  Maybe 15 or 20 minutes.)  It’s a gorgeous area – lots of nice homes and the sidewalk ran next to a ravine filled with trees, water and flowers.

ghibli sign

There were helpful signs that pointed the way and answered the age old question: Are we there yet??

ghibli sign

I don’t remember what this one was for, but I thought it was cute.  Anyone read Japanese?  I *think* it was for a bus stop, but I’m probably wrong.

totoro in a window

One of the first things you see when you enter the museum grounds is Totoro grinning from a window.  Definitely a cheery way to start the tour and it managed to trigger *my* inner 9 year old quite nicely.  She had full reign for the rest of the afternoon, I assure you!  (Notice I’m not posting my picture posing with Totoro.  These poor random people got tagged instead.)

We weren’t allowed to use cameras in the museum, which was to be expected but also disappointing.  The gift shop sold two books that had English translations, so I picked them up along with tons of postcards, phone charms, stuffed toys, etc etc.  (Day two in Tokyo was when the Visa card got a work out!)  The place looks huge from the outside, but seems a lot smaller inside and there weren’t as many exhibits as I thought there would be.  It starts out fabulously, though.  The first room you come to has panels inset into the walls with animated scenes (everything is at child height, of course, so you do a lot of bending) and different animation and stop motion displays.  It’s kind of hard to describe, but I’ll give it a shot.  (And if I unearth my scanner from where it’s buried, maybe I’ll post a couple of scans from the book.)

There was a complex stop motion display that was fascinating to watch.  (I think it could be called stop motion – I’m not quite sure of the proper term.)  It was a tall display case with different Totoro figures on different levels.  There were the little Totoros, Mai, etc.  When the machine was stopped you could see that there were quite a few of the figures extended on poles and when it would start to spin it looked like all of the figures were moving.   (Wow, that was kind of a bad explanation!)  My favorite part of that room was the figure of a robot that was encased in a glass tube.  It was looking up and reaching for the sky as it slowly rotated in a circle as birds made of light flickered around it.  It was incredibly touching, and meshed perfectly with the peaceful music being piped in.

Two of the main display rooms are hard to describe, just because of the sheer volume of stuff packed into the rooms.  Models, piles of books stacked everywhere, sketchbooks on the tables and shelves, sketches tacked to the walls… you could walk through those two rooms a dozen times and see something new each time.  And the detail through the building was amazing.  Every window and lampshade had stained glass scenes from a Ghibli movie (mostly Totoro and Kiki).  There was a life sized stuffed Catbus that had shrieking children climbing all over it in a room that was scattered with stuffed dustballs that the kids could carry around.  It was a blast to see.  And Amy got a special thrill when we got to walk through the visiting Aardman Studio display and saw scenes and dioramas from Wallace and Gromit.  The best was the reenactment of the train scene in The Wrong Trousers.  Heh.  The penguin still had a glove on his head…

We got to go to the theatre and watch a short that was produced for the museum.  There weren’t any subtitles, but the plot was fairly easy to understand.   A boy (who I think was a runaway) was on his way to the market when he was stopped by a badger and a frog and traded his vegetables for a magic jewel.  I figured it was going to be a Jack and the Beanstalk story, but it turned out a little differently.  When the boy planted the jewel in a pot of water, and added water and other elements it eventually grew into a little miniature planet.  Then a couple arrived and took away the boy (I’m assuming it’s his rich snotty parents he ran away from?) but the frog and badger found him in the city and took him away… somewhere… where he let his planet go to grow alongside other worlds.  It’s kind of hard to say much else without actually understanding the dialogue, but the usual environmental themes weren’t very hard to miss.  :)

The best part of the museum?  Climbing up the terrifying spiral staircase:


To get HERE!!


Yes, I had been looking forward to seeing this the most.  The robot is perched on the roof of the museum, and if you look at the bottom of the picture you can see the top of the head of the kid standing next to it.  It was pretty big and completely awesome!

This is what the robot looks like from the ground.


Here’s a picture I took from the roof.

ghibli museum

So that was most of our day at the Museum.  We didn’t spend *too* much time there, though I did have to make two trips to the gift shop when we paused for a snack and I found myself *staring* at a Gigi this little girl had at the next table.  Amy made me go back and buy one for myself.  (You can see it yourself in the previous post)

We had planned on walking through a park to get to Kichijouji station for lunch, but we took a wrong turn in the woods and ended up getting a wee bit lost.  We started wandering through a residential neighbourhood and were trying to figure out how the hell we got where we were and how we were going to get out, but Amy enlisted the help of a road construction crew who (after spending about ten minutes with a map trying to figure out where we were) managed to point us in the right direction.  A local who had stopped to help ended up following us on his bicycle to make sure we went the right way and gave us some last minute directions.  Kind of an interesting/low key adventure to finish the afternoon with.  We got to see a traditional Tokyo residential neighbourhood and Amy got to practice her Japanese.  :)  Seriously, though.  We didn’t know where we were going, but we knew how to get back to the park but decided to wing it.  Amy has an uncanny sense of direction and that was the only time in four days in Tokyo that we didn’t know where we were.   But, ha!  I still don’t know where we were.  When we finally got to a train station it wasn’t anywhere near Kichijouji and I have no idea how we walked that far in that little amount of time!

That’s it for this post!  Now that I’ve started up again, I’ll post more about my trip soon.  Have to get it all written out before I start forgetting everything!


Entry filed under: rambling.

Why yes! I AM back! Did you buy any manga?

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Gromitgirl  |  June 1, 2007 at 12:02 am

    those construction workers got a kick out of us!!! Your anime sets look very cute all set up! I can only imagine what your room must look like…

  • 2. pajcat  |  June 1, 2007 at 12:55 am

    Messy right now. Very very messy.

    And I loved those construction workers. They looked exactly like I would have imagined. heh heh.


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