Staggered reopening planned for anime mecca after nearly half-year closure.

You could make the argument that Tokyo’s Ghibli Museum sits at the very top of the list of must-visit museums in Japan. Yes, Japan has world-class history and fine art museums, but unless you’re a scholarly connoisseur, one is likely as satisfying as another. The Ghibli Museum, though, is a one-of-a-kind facility, combining retrospectives on the works of anime legend Hayao Miyazaki and his colleagues with architectural design and landscaping that would blend seamlessly into one of the production house’s films. The Ghibli Museum is also the location of the only theater in the world that plays the collection of Ghibli animated shorts, such as the My Neighbor Totoro sequel.

For fans of animation, a visit to the museum is often the highlight of their entire trip to Japan, so it was to great sadness that the Ghibli Museum closed on February 25 as a precaution against the spread of the coronavirus. Initially, the museum hoped to resume ticket sales in mid-March, which was later delayed to April, and then postponed again indefinitely when even that proved overly optimistic.

▼ “The museum is currently closed. Pleas wait a little longer,” says Totoro’s Mei on the museum website’s top page.

But now there’s finally a light at the end of the tunnel, as the museum has announced a new timetable for when it will start accepting visitors again: Sunday, July 26. However, admission will be limited, with only a small number of tickets available for purchase via a lottery system, and only residents of Mitaka (the district of Tokyo where the museum is located) eligible to apply.

If all goes well and Tokyo’s coronavirus infection numbers are sufficiently low, in September the museum hopes to begin welcoming visitors regardless of their place of residence, although still with admission numbers capped to a lower level than normal (even in normal conditions, the Ghibli Museum limits its number of daily guests). However, the reunion with the general public will be short-lived, as the Ghibli Museum has also announced that the entire facility will be closed for large-scale maintenance in November and December, with the hope that general admission at normal levels will finally resume sometime next year.

“At the Ghibli Museum, we believe it is important to fill intricately designed spaces, both large and small, with displays, some of which visitors can enjoy touching directly and create a liberating, free environment,” says the museum on its website, explaining the challenges it faces in reopening in a time when social distancing remains a necessity. “We have been considering how to receive visitors in the current conditions without losing what makes our museum special…The decision we have come to is a difficult one, as we are not able to accommodate the hopes of those hoping for a quick full reopening…[but] we ask for your understanding and cooperation.”

So it looks like it’s going to be at least a little  while before those of us who don’t live in Mitaka get another chance to step inside the Ghibli Museum, but at least the day when we can is coming, and in the meantime we can try to tide ourselves over with the video tours the facility has been posting. And for those who are lucky enough to get a ticket, don’t forget your mask, unless you want to incur Yubaba’s wrath.

Source: Ghibli Museum
Top image: Wikipedia/UpdateNerd (edited by SoraNews24)
Insert image: Ghibi Museum
● Want to hear about SoraNews24’s latest articles as soon as they’re published? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!

Follow Casey on Twitter, where he was impressed that even the guy who ran the projector at the Ghibli Museum looked like he just stepped out of a Miyazaki anime.