A visit to the Ghibli Museum

September 5, 2011

Six months after the disaster of March 11, 25 years after Chernobyl, and 66 years after the end of World War II, radiation fears, expectedly and heavily, wear on the collective Japanese psyche.  I saw very few advertisements for art museums, much less smaller galleries, in my six weeks in Japan—how do the Japanese cope with having lived through multiple nuclear disasters if not through art?  Under the weight of such fear, a country could sink into oblivion, but there are some creatives who understand the “resilience of nature“, and that life goes on after such a cataclysm.  One of these creatives is Hayao Miyazaki, a Japanese artist, director, and founder of Studio Ghibli, an animation company based outside of Tokyo.

Best known for his films and manga (Japanese graphic novels) such as Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, and My Neighbor Totoro, Miyazaki also directed a music video that deals with the aftereffects of a world that experienced nuclear meltdown, “On Your Mark”.

On Your Mark – Chage & Aska from bahimas on Vimeo
(There’s a version in English, as well).
When I heard that JAXA was located near the Studio Ghibli Museum, I jumped at the chance to go.  What would this museum show me about Ghibli’s creative process?  What other ideas were Miyazaki and his collaborators generating in their studios?  Joined by two members from the lab, we took the 14 bus across the street from JAXA up to the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka. Getting tickets is a bit of a chore, and can only be done in advance through a travel agency or through vending machines at Lawson convenience stores in Japan. Many thanks to Morita-san for acquiring tickets.

Located in Mitaka, not far from the Kichijo-ji neighborhood, and bordering Inokashira Park, the museum is surrounded by verdant trees, shrubs, and vines.

How to get to the Ghibli Museum

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