Japan’s Ghibli Museum Brings Hayao Miyazaki’s Art to Life

Posted by Elizabeth Alton on Saturday, July 21st, 2012

Ghibli Museum entrance shows an open design

Studio Ghibli is like the Walt Disney Studios of Japan. It seems like everyone in Japan has seen their movies. The Studio Ghibli Museum, designed by Ghibli head Hayao Miyazaki, brings the Studio’s most treasured stories and characters to life. Readers may recognize Ghibli as the creative force behind films such as Ponyo, Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle.

The museum’s motto, “Maigo ni nar? yo, isshoni,” translates to “let’s get lost together.” Each aspect of the museum’s design invites visitors to recapture a sense of play and get lost in the architecture. The aesthetic of the building is pure Ghibli. The smallest details represent an opportunity for a whimsical touch.

Ghibli Museum Stained Glass Window

The museum is small enough to go through in about two hours. The wildly popular attraction sells out a month in advance. It’s a top destination for foreign visitors to Tokyo. Opened in 2001, the building bursts with color from the movies in a combination that is one part playground and one part film archive.

Upon entering Ghibli, visitors descend stairs to the main floor along a walkway framed with vivid, stained glass images from the movies.

The building itself has three floors and is designed like a fantastical house. The design features tightly spiraled staircases and secret passages. The museum uses shape, line, color, and material to create a place where living and animated spaces collide.

Studio Ghibli Museum workshop

Ghibli is viewed as a portal to a storybook world; photography is forbidden inside, as signs warn “we ask that you experience this through your own senses, rather than through a camera lens.” This entreaty to be fully present and engage is repeated throughout the museum. This is not a place that captivates through roller coasters or big themed attractions, but instead with a subtle charm that draws you in.

The first floor features a screening room where Studio Ghibli films loop. There is also a larger space filled with animation cels that tells the history of Japanese animation.

The Studio Ghibli Museum Theater

The second floor is divided into two sections. The first is a gallery featuring memorabilia from a selected film, most recently from the movie Ponyo. The other half of the floor creates an imagined animation studio, with a series of rooms that move visitors through the stages of filmmaking from preproduction to finished product. But rather than a literal recreation of a studio, each room represents its stage conceptually, as imagined by an animator. The preproduction room gives the notion of disorder and floating, with airships dangling from the ceiling amidst walls papered with sketches.

Ghibli Museum Robot

The third and final floor is home to a playroom for children, where they are encouraged to climb, touch, and play. Outdoor spaces include a rooftop garden with a famous giant robot statue, a courtyard with a working well, and a café where each dish promises a special Miyazaki touch.

Ghibli Museum Cafe adds important touches to each dish

Ghibli’s museum has created a space where animation fans can get lost in the wonder of the films.

Image sources: Collider.com and Studio Ghibli Museum

One response to “Japan’s Ghibli Museum Brings Hayao Miyazaki’s Art to Life”

  1. angelic says:

    wow it seems so amazing i always wanted to go there but but between nowdays i can’t really go all the way to Tokyo Japan. plus don’t you have to be able speak the language so i think that will stay on my dream list, but i love the movies and i’m a really big fan of Howl’s Moving Castle and Spirited Away

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