Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Museo De Ghibli

Museo De Ghibli was one of the things we had to do in Tokyo. The first thing I bought after booking our flights were tickets to Ghibli. When we came here 3 years ago we had a ball. We knew that if we had children we'd want to bring them here. For as long as Georgia has been watching movies she has been watching movies by Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli. My Neighbour Totoro is her favourite but she also loves Kiki, Spirited Away and The Cat Returns. Georgia was happy to come to Tokyo because we told her that was where Totoro lives.

Museo De Ghibli is in Mitaka about a 40 minute train ride from Tokyo then a 10 minute bus ride. Georgia was finally starting to understand where we were going when we boarded the "cat" bus to Ghibli.

Near main entrance to the museum is a faux ticket office with a life sized, huge, Totoro inside. When she saw Totoro Georgia dragged me by the hand closer and started looking a little upset. She was quite overwhelmed. She dragged me around the ticket office looking for a way in. She really wanted to go to Totoro. Imagine if you're two years old and you're confronted with your favourite creature in the world? We eventually managed to manoeuvre Georgia back to the real entrance and we went in.

We have very few photos from inside. No photography is allowed inside the museum. I recalled not being able to take photos of the cat bus last time we were here but forgot that it was the entire inside of the museum. Oh well. Today the museum was very busy. Hundreds of kids and frazzled parents roaming around. Every exhibit has a crowd, especially the interactive exhibits. There seems to be more foreign visitors wandering around than last time we were here and they probably wish they had kids or were kids to really participate. Unlike big theme parks there are no rides or big thing here at Ghibli. It is about the art of making movies for kids and they childlike joy that can be had playing with some of the interactive exhibits.

There are rooms that re-create Miyazaki's home and office, rooms that have the hand drawn artwork for the movies and models of characters. Georgia is a little too young for some of these so after some of animated interactive exhibits we went straight up to the Cat Bus.

The Cat Bus room is where I did managed to sneak in a couple of photos with my phone until I was caught and told to put it away. Why wouldn't you try and snag a happy snap or two? The Cat Bus as a huge plush reproduction of the the Cat Bus from My Neighbour Totoro. Kids, and only kids under 12, get 5 minutes climb in, over and through the Cat Bus. There are also dozens of plush soot sprites to throw around and play with.

Georgia was a bit hesitant about climbing on to the Cat Bus at first. She looked a little lost but the attendants try and coax the kids in to playing on the bus for the limited time they have to play. While the kids play the next group of 10 or 12 kids are queuing so they're pretty strict about the time limit. For about 4 and half minutes Georgia wasn't sure what to do and by the time she started to play earnestly it was time to get off. Trying to coax a bunch of children and toddlers off the bus is a task in itself. We managed to drag a very reluctant Georgia away but only if she could rejoin the queue for another play. So she joined the queue again and this time she did try and get in the bus. She also threw a couple of the soot sprites around and slipped and fell on her bum in a small concave slide on the floor. An attendant was there pretty quickly to sort her out though and help her up. And up she did get again and back on the bus. Too soon the 5 minutes were up and this time we had a hell of a time dragging Georgia away. We had to explain that other kids had to have a turn too.

From the Cat Bus you can get outside on the roof and pose for photos with the iron giant from Laputa: Castle in the Sky. Not much to see up there otherwise.

Hunger always wins out so it was time for hotdogs. There is a cafe/restaurant on site but the queue for that was horrendous so we went to the hotdog kiosk and got hotdogs. And icecream. Delicious green tea icecream. I can't have these to myself anymore. One of the problems (!?) with having a toddler with similar tastes to yours is you can't sneak in a green tea icecream cone by yourself. You have to share. So Georgy and I shared.

Every 20 minutes the theartre at the museum shows the latest Miyazaki short film. When you arrive at the museum you're given a souvenir ticket made from the 35mm film stock of a Ghibli film. This was our ticket to see the short film. This time it was a delightful tale of a little dog, Kuru, who gets lost and has to find his way home, and it is about the little girl who loves him and searches for him. There were more than a few sniffles from the audience after the film. Georgia loved it.

Only one thing left to do after the movie and that was to visit the gift shop. The seriously crowded gift shop. If you've ever seen people being pushed on to Tokyo trains during peak hour the gift shop was like that. We did manage to drift around the shop once and let the crowd eddy past whenever we stopped to look at some trinket or another. We managed to find a little Mae doll ( My Neighbour Totoro) for Georgia because whenever we said we were going to Tokyo to see Totoro Georgia would say "And Mae". We picked up a number of plush dolls and toys for Georgia to choose and she picked out a "little Totoro", the small white Totoro, and a Kuru plush doll. She clasped both of them to her chest and was reluctant to let them go (Note from a month down the track. The Mae doll, Kuru and little Totoro and still favourites - they all go to bed with Georgia every day).

On the way out we visited Totoro at the entrance of the museum one last time. By then Georgy was overtired and overwhelmed and wasn't interested in posing for photos. In your mind you plan certain posed photos but sometimes circumstances have a habit of mucking around with the best laid plans and you have to make do with a couple of hurried and harried shots. At least we'd done what we'd set out to do and visit the Ghibli Musuem with Georgia. There's nothing more rewarding than that.

Then it was all aboard the cat bus and back to Mitaka station. While we were on the bus a guy was having a conversation on his phone. I could see that the bus driver was annoyed and the driver kept turning around as the guy kept speaking. Eventually the driver got on the PA and told the guy to shut up and put his phone away. I wish they'd do that in Australia.

In Australia tickets to Museo De Ghibli can be purchased through the JTB and the tickets are not expensive. You can buy tickets in Japan but only from ATMs in Lawson Stations. You can not buy a ticket at the gate. They limit the number of visitors per day so you're better off pre-booking a ticket before you leave. International tickets allow you to enter the museum at any time during the day you've booked. Tickets purchased in Japan at a Lawson have to be booked for an entry time too. Allow at least 2 hours to see the museum. The gift shop gets very crowded. Very.

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