Hayao Miyazaki is the animator and director that’s brought so many wonderful films to the world, from Totoro to Kiki’s Delivery Service to Spirited Away and many more. He was born in Tokyo during World War II, and his fascination with airplanes began early, as his family owned a factory that built rudders for Zero fighters. His mother became ill with tuberculosis and had to be treated over several years, making the events of My Neighbor Totoro somewhat autobiographical. As an animator, he delved deep into classical literary sources to come up with his amazing stories, for example creating Nausicaa from a Greek princess seen in Homer’s Odyssey and a classical Japanese tale from the Heian Period about a headstrong princess who dared go out without blackening her teeth (which was very big back then) and who loved insects. Yesterday I finally made it down to the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, Tokyo, and it really was a memorable experience. The museum is filled with great things to see, from sketches Mr. Miyazaki did in creating his many works to books of flora and fauna used by the animators for inspiration as they drew to a giant cat bus for kids to play in and a life-sized robot soldier from Laputa. If you ever plan to come to Japan, you positively have to go. (Just a reminder, tickets must be purchased in advance.)
Let's delve into the history behind the Western tourist who paid to take a photo wearing samurai armor in 1890!