The giant Catbus and Saturn Theatre seating present some social distancing challenges. 

It’s been nearly six months since the Ghibli Museum in Tokyo’s Mitaka closed its doors in late February to help curb the spread of coronavirus. Throughout this time, however, museum staff have been sharing videos from the site to keep people’s spirits up at home, and on 26 July, the museum welcomed its first guests for one day only, with visitors chosen by lottery and limited to local residents of Mitaka City.

That one-day opening helped staff identify new requirements for keeping visitors safe ahead of the tentative new re-opening now set for September. While the museum plans to cap the number of daily visitors to less than those seen in pre-coronavirus days, the enclosed spaces inside the building still need to be reworked in light of the ongoing pandemic, and new videos from the museum show the level of care being taken to ensure everyone’s safety ahead of the re-opening.

This video shows how the “cleaning crew” will be constantly spraying surfaces inside and outside the building with alcohol.

This next clip reveals that keeping the Catbus clean is proving to be a big challenge, especially when kids want to climb all over it. However, staff aim to keep everyone safe by: limiting the number of children in the area to six at any one time, limiting the time of play to five minutes, and thoroughly spraying and wiping down all surfaces with alcohol in between groups.

Safety in the catbus area is so important it warrants meetings where staff brainstorm ideas, and the Museum openly admits they’re trialling new ideas all the time, as the video ends with the words “Trial and error still continues“.

The next video takes us inside Saturn Theatrethe in-house cinema, which screens exclusive Ghibli shorts and usually seats around 80 people per screening. Now, visitors will need to keep some space between each other as part of social distancing measures, and staff are working on artistic ways to keep people one seat apart.

▼ This cute bat says “Please sit one seat apart“.

▼ The designs for seat spacing aim to align with the lighthearted feel of the cinema.

The official website sums up the countermeasures in place at the Ghibli Museum with some cute images. Countermeasures listed are:

  • The building will be regularly cleaned and sterilised
  • The building will be thoroughly ventilated
  • Staff will have their temperature taken upon arriving at work, will wear masks during their shift and take care to wash their hands and sterilise their fingers
  • Acrylic panels will be set up at the reception desk, cash registers and restaurant. Trays will be used to give and receive money (when making a purchase)

The museum has some requests for visitors too.

  • Please wear a mask
  • Please cooperate with hand-washing and hand sterilisation
  • Temperatures will be taken before entering. Please refrain from visiting if you are unwell

Visitors with a temperature of 37.5 degrees Celsius (99.5 degrees Fahrenheit) or higher will be refused admission, and the museum asks that people who suspect or know they have been in contact with a person who tested positive for the virus refrain from visiting.

Access to shops and the exhibition room may be restricted due to congestion and customers will be asked to keep space between each other while waiting in line. Paper towels are not supplied in restrooms so visitors are asked to bring their own handkerchiefs or small hand towels (a common practice in Japan even before the pandemic) and bring their own water bottles to rehydrate.

Business hours may change suddenly without notice so visitors are asked to check the website before visiting. There are definitely a lot of new things to keep in mind with this new normal at the Ghibli Museum, but it’s nice to know they’re doing everything they can to keep staff and visitors safe, because it’s been far too long since our last visit. And we still have a while to wait before we get to step inside the upcoming Ghibli Park in Aichi Prefecture.

Source: Ghibli Museum
Featured image: YouTube/三鷹の森ジブリ美術館 GHIBLI MUSEUM, MITAKA
Insert images: Ghibli Museum, YouTube/三鷹の森ジブリ美術館 GHIBLI MUSEUM, MITAKA (1, 2

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