A Virtual Tour Inside the Hayao Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli Museum

Let us pray that orga­ni­za­tion expert Marie Kon­do nev­er comes with­in spit­ting dis­tance of A Boy’s Room, part of the Stu­dio Ghi­b­li muse­um’s Where a Film is Born instal­la­tion.

It’s not like­ly that every sin­gle item in the mas­sive (and no doubt well dust­ed) col­lec­tion of books, post­cards, hand tools, pic­tures, fig­urines, and oth­er assort­ed tchotchkes pic­tured above sparks joy, but the sug­ges­tion is that any one of them might prove the gate­way to a fan­tas­ti­cal tale, such as those spun by the museum’s exec­u­tive direc­tor, mas­ter ani­ma­tor Hayao Miyaza­ki:

The room seems to belong to some­one who was sketch­ing at the desk just a few min­utes ago. The room is filled with books and toys. The walls are all cov­ered with illus­tra­tions and sketch­es. Hang­ing from the ceil­ing are a mod­el of an air­plane and a mod­el of a Pter­a­n­odon. It’s a place where the own­er of the room has stored his favorite things. This room pro­vides lots of inspi­ra­tion for what will go on to the blank piece of paper on the desk to become the ori­gin of an actu­al film.

The Muse­um, which announced it would delay its reopen­ing out of ongo­ing con­cerns relat­ed to social dis­tanc­ing dur­ing the COVID-19 cri­sis, recent­ly shared some brief video tours of the Miyaza­ki-designed space, per­haps all the more mag­i­cal for being emp­ty.

One lucky view­er, who had trekked to the Tokyo sub­urb of Mita­ka for an in-per­son vis­it, recalled the expe­ri­ence of actu­al­ly being in A Boy’s Room:

Open up the draw­ers in this room, take the books off shelves to look at them, touch things, look through trunks—you might find lit­tle secrets to be dis­cov­ered. One time I took an art book from the shelf and one of the employ­ees came over to me. I was expect­ing to get rep­ri­mand­ed, but instead she kind­ly guid­ed me over to a couch so that I could read the book. Miyaza­ki took care to design the space to be friend­ly to the explorato­ry nature of chil­dren, mak­ing sure that they could play unob­struct­ed. It’s one of the rea­sons why you aren’t allowed to take pho­tos inside—he did­n’t want par­ents inter­rupt­ing their expe­ri­ence to pose for pho­tos they could care less about.

That phi­los­o­phy is enact­ed through­out the muse­um. Kids can climb all over a life-size plush recre­ation of My Neigh­bor Totoro’s cat bus, but would-be Insta­gram­mers are S.O.L.

A peek at the Space of Won­der room reveals Thum­be­li­na-sized char­ac­ters from My Neigh­bor TotoroNau­si­caä of the Val­ley of the Wind, and Kik­i’s Deliv­ery Ser­vice frol­ick­ing in a fres­co of fruit, flow­ers, and vines.

The archi­tec­tur­al ele­ments are a par­tic­u­lar treat, and sug­gest that there’s seri­ous bank to be made, should Miyaza­ki ever con­sid­er extend­ing the brand into a theme park-style hotel. (Some­thing tells us he won’t.)

Once hav­ing seen a pho­to essay fea­tur­ing some of the fan­cy refresh­ments oth­ers have enjoyed there, the tour of the emp­ty Straw Hat Café does under­whelm a bit. Those cute lit­tle plates are just call­ing out for a slice of straw­ber­ry short­cake…

We’re unsure if muse­um staffers will be releas­ing more videos dur­ing their down­time, though we’re hope­ful, espe­cial­ly since sev­er­al in-per­son vis­i­tors have not­ed that the museum’s toi­lets are pret­ty note­wor­thy.

That said we’d hap­pi­ly set­tle for some of the short films that screen in the museum’s Sat­urn The­ater.

You can fol­low the Museum’s YouTube chan­nel just in case.

Mean­while, here is Miyazaki’s man­i­festo detail­ing the kind of muse­um he want­ed to make, right down to the café and the gift shop:

A muse­um that is inter­est­ing and which relax­es the soul
A muse­um where much can be dis­cov­ered
A muse­um based on a clear and con­sis­tent phi­los­o­phy
A muse­um where those seek­ing enjoy­ment can enjoy, those seek­ing to pon­der can pon­der, and those seek­ing to feel can feel
A muse­um that makes you feel more enriched when you leave than when you entered!

To make such a muse­um, the build­ing must be…
Put togeth­er as if it were a film
Not arro­gant, mag­nif­i­cent, flam­boy­ant, or suf­fo­cat­ing
Qual­i­ty space where peo­ple can feel at home, espe­cial­ly when it’s not crowd­ed
A build­ing that has a warm feel and touch
A build­ing where the breeze and sun­light can freely flow through

The muse­um must be run in such a way that…
Small chil­dren are treat­ed as if they were grown-ups
Vis­i­tors with dis­abil­i­ties are accom­mo­dat­ed as much as pos­si­ble
The staff can be con­fi­dent and proud of their work
Vis­i­tors are not con­trolled with pre­de­ter­mined cours­es and fixed direc­tions
It is suf­fused with ideas and new chal­lenges so that the exhibits do not get dusty or old, and that invest­ments are made to real­ize that goal

The dis­plays will be…
Not only for the ben­e­fit of peo­ple who are already fans of Stu­dio Ghi­b­li
Not a pro­ces­sion of art­work from past Ghi­b­li films as if it were “a muse­um of the past”
A place where vis­i­tors can enjoy by just look­ing, can under­stand the artists’ spir­its, and can gain new insights into ani­ma­tion

Orig­i­nal works and pic­tures will be made to be exhib­it­ed at the muse­um
A project room and an exhib­it room will be made, show­ing move­ment and life
(Orig­i­nal short films will be pro­duced to be released in the muse­um!)
Ghi­b­li’s past films will be probed for under­stand­ing at a deep­er lev­el

The café will be…
An impor­tant place for relax­ation and enjoy­ment
A place that does­n’t under­es­ti­mate the dif­fi­cul­ties of run­ning a muse­um café
A good café with a style all its own where run­ning a café is tak­en seri­ous­ly and done right

The muse­um shop will be…
Well-pre­pared and well-pre­sent­ed for the sake of the vis­i­tors and run­ning the muse­um
Not a bar­gain shop that attach­es impor­tance only to the amount of sales
A shop that con­tin­ues to strive to be a bet­ter shop
Where orig­i­nal items made only for the muse­um are found

The muse­um’s rela­tion to the park is…
Not just about car­ing for the plants and sur­round­ing green­ery but also plan­ning for how things can improve ten years into the future
Seek­ing a way of being and run­ning the muse­um so that the sur­round­ing park will become even lush­er and bet­ter, which will in turn make the muse­um bet­ter as well!

This is what I expect the muse­um to be, and there­fore I will find a way to do it.

This is the kind of muse­um I don’t want to make!
A pre­ten­tious muse­um
An arro­gant muse­um
A muse­um that treats its con­tents as if they were more impor­tant than peo­ple
A muse­um that dis­plays unin­ter­est­ing works as if they were sig­nif­i­cant

Relat­ed Con­tent: 

Stu­dio Ghi­b­li Releas­es Tan­ta­liz­ing Con­cept Art for Its New Theme Park, Open­ing in Japan in 2022

Hayao Miyazaki’s Stu­dio Ghi­b­li Releas­es Free Back­grounds for Vir­tu­al Meet­ings: Princess Mononoke, Spir­it­ed Away & More

For the First Time, Stu­dio Ghibli’s Entire Cat­a­log Will Soon Be Avail­able for Dig­i­tal Pur­chase

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine.  Here lat­est project is a series of free down­load­able posters, encour­ag­ing cit­i­zens to wear masks in pub­lic and wear them prop­er­ly. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

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