The other day I took my mother and the kids down to Tokyo to see the Studio Ghibli Museum, pretty much the most excellent place in the world if you love the works of master animator Hayao Miyazaki. Inside, you can see a replica of the desk Miyazaki-sensei worked at while creating his most famous films (right down to his cigarette-filled ashtray), climb inside a giant plush Catbus, and take your picture beside a full-sized version of a robot from Castle in the Sky Laputa. Visitors are able to watch a short original Ghibli film while there, too, and we were fortunate to get to see the best one, Mei and the Kitten Bus, essentially the “sequel” to My Neighbor Totoro. It tells the story of an adventure Mei has with a baby neko bus in which she’s taken to a conclave of Totoros and meets the Grandmother Catbus, who she befriends by giving her a delicious Morinaga caramel — it’s quite awesome. Mr. Miyazaki’s hand could be seen in almost every aspect of the museum, from the winding staircase that only kids could climb to the toilets, decorated with acorns and wood; when you pay for something, the little tray you put your money in isn’t made of plastic, but natural leather cut in the shape of a leaf. Inside the museum there’s a cafe famous for selling coffee with Miyazaki’s characters drawn over the top in chocolate. Sadly, Mr. Miyazaki decided that he didn’t want visitors to the museum “eating” his characters, even in chocolate form, and asked the cafe to refrain from the practice — bummer.
Tthe Ghibli Museum is my favorite part of Tokyo.