Studio Ghibli‘s movies are cherished the world over by anime fans, and the Ghibli Museum, located in Tokyo, has long offered the faithful a chance to go deeper and explore the hidden world behind their favorite films. Whether it be a Hayao Miyazaki movie like Princess Mononoke or Spirited Away or a film by the late Isao Takahata like Grave of the Fireflies, you’re guaranteed to find something of interest in the museum’s treasure trove of production history and interactive exhibits.
Nestled away in the green suburb of Mitaka, the Ghibli Museum continues to be a must-visit for any cinephile on a trip to Tokyo. The city is gearing up to host the Summer Olympics in just a few short days while under an ongoing state of emergency, which has unfortunately left spectators barred from the Games for the first time in history. Meanwhile, the pandemic has taken its toll on local businesses and in-person events, and the museum — which usually sells out and requires ticket bookings months in advance — is no exception. It’s raising funds now for repairs and maintenance and has already received over $200,000.
Kotaku reports that the Ghibli Museum has “launched a crowdfunding drive in Japan, requesting 5,000 yen ($45) donations, which can be tax write-offs.” The site notes that this campaign is only open to residents of Japan. The reason for that is because it’s geared toward tax-paying citizens. In Japan, there is a system called furusato nozei, or “hometown tax,” whereby citizens can choose to reroute some of their tax money to their hometown or another rural place even if they’re living elsewhere.
Participating businesses and towns often rely on incentives, mailing donors gifts like locally sourced fruit or fish. Technically, Tokyo is a prefecture and Mitaka is a city within that prefecture. It’s bigger than the usual hometown tax recipient but with the oasis of greenery that is the Ghibli Museum, it has a unique local attraction that is worth preserving.
What It’s Like Inside the Ghibli Museum
Half-covered in climbing vines, the multicolored Ghibli Museum is a place where the title creature from My Neighbor Totoro works the box office window. We took a look around outside the museum back in June 2017 when news of an upcoming Ghibli theme park first broke.
Since then, we’ve had an opportunity to explore the inside of the museum and can say that it’s a worthwhile experience. Inside, kids can climb aboard a life-size Catbus, and there are beautiful stained glass windows and spiral staircases reaching up to the roof. While no pictures are allowed inside the building, there is a photo op on the roof with the long-armed robot from Castle in the Sky. Take a look:
In 2018, visitors could screen Boro the Caterpillar, the first Miyazaki short film made since his 2013 semi-retirement, in the museum’s in-house movie theater. Last year, the museum was closed for six months due to the first state of emergency in Tokyo, and this year, it’s been closed again since April while the city navigates yet another emergency state in the leadup to the Olympics. Yet tourists and Ghibli fans across Japan and around the world clearly value the museum enough that they are willing to chip in and help out during a time of need.
As of this writing, the call for donations has already hit almost 225 percent of its original goal and there are still almost 200 days left in the campaign. More details on the campaign to benefit the Ghibli Museum are available (in Japanese) on the furusato-tax.jp website.
Studio Ghibli’s films are available to purchase on digital platforms.
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