The Tokyo metropolis is nearly 2,200 square km and holds nearly 14 million people in its boundaries, and yet in the middle of it lays a small city called Mitaka. What’s significant about Mitaka you say? It’s just the location of a museum dedicated to one of my favourite storytellers of all time and the company that he predominately built from scratch. That’s right folks there is a museum dedicated to Hayao Miyazaki & Studio Ghibli, and it’s tucked away in the core of Mitaka.
We also discovered that Mitaka is home to Production I.G. which is the animation studio that makes Ghost in the Shell and many other anime shows. Knowing we were going to be able to at least walk by that building meant a lot to me because GITS was a shows that changed the way I looked at animation. Production I.G. showed me that anime could be complex, mature, and push the boundaries of our own reality. Even though we couldn’t get any closer than the lobby, it was still an experience I hold close to my heart.
After we found the Production I.G. office we started wandering around Mitaka as we had nearly 4 hours to spend before it was our time to entre the Ghibli museum. The first thing I came across was this abandoned pool which was both an eerie site but also one of deep contemplation. I grew up around pool as a competitive swimmer and it was weird to find one that’s been completely abandoned and expected to just wither away. Joe took much more time here and made a short film about it, have a look if you got time:
The pool was the location where our little trio would actually part ways for a bit. Joe remained to film while Kaz and I went off to find what else Mitaka had to offer. The results of our exploration were rather underwhelming to start. We discovered that the majority of the main tourist attractions were closed…we never really found out whether it was due to a holiday or just because it was a Monday.
Kaz and I walked for an hour around a generic park thinking we’d have to waste the day until the museum. Although before our enthusiasm was extinguished, Kaz noticed a path that led into a huge forest and we decided to go explore. That’s when we fell upon Inokashira Park, a beautifully hidden oasis (at least to a bunch of uneducated visitors.) The park is a collection of bridges that expand over the Inokashira pond and the beginnings of the Kanda river. The park is also home to a shrine dedicated to Benzaiten, ” the Shinto Goddess of everything that flows: water, time, words, speech, eloquence, music and by extension, knowledge.” – Wikipedia
After Kaz and I combed through the majority of the park we felt it might be a good idea to check on Joe, who at this point could be anywhere. We eventually found him, went to the museum, watched an exclusive Ghibli short film, paid a lot of money for Ghibli swag, and checked off a major bucket list item. Mitaka was a day to remember and I’m still very pleased to this day that we found a way to get tickets to the museum and got our butts out there to experience it all!