Almost exactly a year ago today I landed in Japan for the very first time. As the train pulled into downtown Tokyo I felt a huge wave of excitement. Japan had been my dream for the longest time, but always seemed to elude me. I’ve loved the culture, the literature, the manga, the anime, and even at times those corny pop groups the country is famous for. I was also feeling a little wary, though. Would Japan meet my expectations? Or would it fall short like many places tend to do when you idolize them for too long?
First on my list for my big visit to Tokyo was Ghibli Museum. I’ve been a fan of the Hayao Miyazaki for years and was super stoked to get to experience the true Ghibli magic first hand. Getting tickets for Ghibli Museum is not hard, but it’s not easy either. You have to reserve your ticket ahead of time and possibly even months beforehand if you want to visit the museum on a weekend. You can get these reserved tickets at certain travel agencies in North America, Hong Kong, Australia, and so on. Unfortunately, Singapore (where I was coming from) doesn’t have any travel agencies that sell them but I managed to get in touch with an acquaintance that lives in Tokyo and he very gamely went and picked up two tickets for me.
I took the train to Mitaka the next afternoon. Maybe I was just overly excited, but even the walk from the train station to the museum seemed magical! Sakura blossoms were falling from the trees and, as it was a Saturday, people were out taking their dogs for walks and enjoying the weather. I had to detour a couple times because there were a few cute little gardens and colorful buildings to see along the way!
When I saw Totoro sitting inside the ticket booth, I knew I’d arrived at Ghibli Museum!
You aren’t allowed to take any photographs while inside the museum which, in my opinion, only adds to the charm. You’re not distracted by the need to document everything and can really immerse yourself in Miyazaki’s world. I honestly have no words for how amazing the entire experience was. I teared up a little when I entered because it was honestly so whimsical and beautiful. It is meant to bring out the child in you and you’ll never grow tired of looking at the gorgeous illustrations and watching spinning and dancing Totoros. My favorite part was having a little Japanese boy oohing and aahing over one of the exhibits with me. He was so excited he kept saying things to me in Japanese and pointing out different things about it. Even though we spoke different languages, our love for these fantastical stories definitely bridged the language gap.
I strolled through all three floors of exhibits and loved every second. There was a short film showing in the museum theatre, then I paid a visit to the roof where I came across the iron giant from Castle in the Sky.
After spending some more time just cruising around admiring the building’s colorful exterior and little gardens, I deemed I’d spent enough time in Miyazaki’s world and that it was time to return to the real one. The whole experience stayed with me long after I’d left. I can now say with complete certainty that magic does exist in this world, you just have to know where to find it!