Take a Virtual Tour of Tokyo’s Ghibli Museum

Take a Virtual Tour of Tokyo’s Ghibli Museum
Photo: cowardlion, Shutterstock

You may not be able to travel to Japan for the foreseeable future, but you can now take a virtual tour of the country’s secretive Ghibli Museum on YouTube.

Studio Ghibli is the Japanese animation studio known for its animated feature films and shorts, including Spirited Away, which won an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature in 2003. Other famous, beloved productions they’ve produced — including some of Japan’s highest-grossing films of all time — include Princess Mononoke, Ponyo, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Castle in the Sky and My Neighbour Totoro (where you’ll meet the studio’s familiar fuzzy grey forest spirit mascot).

The studio was founded in 1985 by directors Hayao Miyazaki and the late Isao Takahata and producer Toshio Suzuki. The Ghibli Museum — designed as a more a peaceful haven and showcase for the studio’s artistry than an American-style tourist attraction — opened in 2001 in Mitaka, Tokyo.

The virtual tour is special because the museum typically does not allow visitors to take videos or photos while inside. The YouTube videos — which range from about 30 seconds to around two minutes in length — highlight the museum’s exterior, the entryway, the Straw Hat Cafe, the Saturn Theatre and an exhibit called “Where a Film is Born.” You’ll get a close look at the ceiling murals, stained glass, the elevator and spiral staircase as well as many drawings made by, and tools used by, the studio’s artists.

The initial tour videos were uploaded in May, but the museum has been adding to the selection, so check back with the channel to view new content as it’s posted.

Of course, there’s are a few things you’ll miss out on with a remote visit. One highlight that remains a Tokyo exclusive is a chance to screen an original short film — exclusive to the museum — in the Saturn Theatre (though the virtual tour does take you inside the theatre). And the videos don’t cover (at least not yet) the life-sized Cat Bus or visit the roof, where you’ll see the Robot Soldier statue from Castle in the Sky.

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