Supporters asked to donate no less than 5,000 yen in pandemic countermeasure, fans respond tremendously.

In Japan, there’s something called the furusato nozei, or “hometown tax” system. This is different from the residence tax that working adults are required to pay in Japan, though, and is actually a donation and tax credit system.

Started in 2008, furusato nozei lets individuals make donations to businesses that have fallen on hard times, a portion of which they can then claim as a credit against the taxes they’ll have to pay at the end of the year. Most of the time there’s also some sort of reward provided by the business that receives the donation as well, and furusato nozei from agricultural organizations that offer high-quality meat, sashimi, fruits, or deserts are especially popular.

As for the “hometown” part, initially most companies that could be donated to were small, local businesses in rural areas. This week, though, a high-profile, big-city organization began soliciting furusato nozei donations: the Ghibli Museum in Tokyo’s Mitaka City.

The message from the official Ghibli Museum Twitter account, accompanied by a link to the donation page, reads:

“We have begun a furusato nozei campaign asking for funds to support the operations of the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka. We humbly ask for your support.”

Ordinarily, the Ghibli Museum is essentially a license to print money. Though tickets are very modestly priced at just 1,000 yen (US$9) for adults and attendance is capped to prevent overcrowding, the on-site cafe does a brisk business, and the museum’s gift shop is quite capable of leaving an anime fan’s wallet empty but also their heart full of joy.

However, the museum has been through multiple temporary closures during the pandemic, and tough it’s currently accepting guests once again, attendance for the year is a fraction of what it usually would be, prompting the museum to issue the following statement:

Currently, we are operating very much in the red. In March, we received a grant from Mitaka City to support our operating expenses, but even with that, we are having to eat into funds that we had planned to use for large-scale large-scale repairs and maintenance. The coronavirus pandemic is expected to continue for some time, and if we continue to draw on our financial reserves, we believe the operation of the facility and planned maintenance will be in jeopardy.”

Because of that, a furusato nozei campaign for the Ghibli Museum was launched on Thursday. As mentioned above, such campaigns often include some sort of reward for donors, but despite the extensive catalogue of licensed Ghibli merchandise, the Ghibli Museum campaign says that the only thing donors will receive from the museum is a thank-you card. In addition, the campaign asks that those choosing to donate please donate at least 5,000 yen (US$45).

The campaign’s target was set at 10 million yen (US$90,900), and as of Friday evening…

they’ve blown right by that, gathering over 12 million yen in less than 24 hours since the Ghibli Museum tweet announcing the campaign’s start. As of this writing, the 12,106,031 yen (US$110,060) comes from 1,478 donors, which works out to an average of roughly 8,190 yen per person.

As per the campaign’s terms, any amount donated beyond the 10 million-yen target will still be granted to the Tokuma Memorial Cultural Foundation for Animation, the museum’s legal operator for which Studio Ghibli co-founder Hayao Miyazaki is chairman, and with the museum’s furusato nozei campaign scheduled to run all the way until January 31, Ghibli fans still have plenty of time to help get the facility through its budget crunch.

Source: Furusato Choice, Ghibli Museum (1, 2)
Images: Furusato Choice
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Follow Casey on Twitter, where he highly recommends the Ghibli Museum’s katsu sandwich.