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2 posts categorized "Film"


My Visit to the Ghibli Museum


Why Japan? -- I'm often asked this question. To be completely honest, I ask myself too. To start, I think the language is beautiful, the harmonious juxtaposition of traditional and modern culture is fascinating, and the Japanese way of thinking is honorable. In Japan, the societal norm is for people to be considerate, respectful, and always try their best for the betterment of others. Also, everyone works together and contributes in some way, so regardless of how busy a place may be it's clean and organized. These are values I hold dearly and believe to be important. Beyond that, I don't have a definitive answer since everyday I'm discovering new aspects of Japanese life which I enjoy. However, I can say that my initial interest in Japanese culture sparked from a young age. It all started with Pokemon. I remember watching the show with my brother, singing the theme song without fail, and running around the playground during recess and after school with my friends imagining we were part of that world. When I was 7, I saw Spirited Away in the theater for my friend's birthday. A tall man sat in front of me partially blocking the subtitles, but within five minutes of the movie I hardly noticed. The stunning animation, and beautiful sound of the music and Japanese language had captivated me. I wanted to fully understand everything behind the movie. As I grew older I continued to watch Hayao Miyazaki’s other movies, and my interest in Japanese culture grew with me. I decided to study Japanese in high school, and often found myself going back and rewatching the Ghibli movies not only for their stories, but to study Japanese as well.


In the same way a familiar smell provokes memories, each movie conjures moments from my adolescence. As I sauntered into the Ghibli Museum my emotions were flooded with all those memories at once -- it felt like I had entered one of Miyazaki’s curated worlds. Delicately detailed stained glass depictions of various characters from movies covered the ceiling of the entryway, and the rooms of the three floors were full of glimpses behind the scenes of the long animation process. The right side of the first floor showcased various processes in which paintings, drawings, and figures were manipulated to create the moving animations. The left side included a small theater showing short films exclusive to the museum (bonus: the theater tickets were three frames from a random Miyazaki movie film strip). A compact caged spiral staircase led up to the second floor which demonstrated the indescribable amount of hard work put into even just a few second-long clip. In addition, the fluffy cat bus from My Neighbor Totoro and one of the robot soldiers from Laputa: Castle in the Sky were stationed on the third floor and roof respectively.


A few days before visiting the museum, a few of us watched a documentary titled The One Who Painted Totoro’s Forest at the CIEE Study Center, which focused on Kazuo Oga’s background art for Miyazaki’s movies. Oga’s workload was high and he was used to quickly painting only the necessary details to understand the scene in previous works. Of course there's nothing wrong with this -- often times less is more. However, part of what makes Miyazaki's movies so remarkable is the amount of detail put into each scene. Miyazaki preferred everything to be hand drawn rather than use computer generated imagery. Oga submitted what he thought would be sufficient, and was taken aback when Miyazaki said, this is the best you can do? Miyazaki asked him to pay special attention to the nature which would be present in the area and time period of the background scenes. Oga took the request to heart and his results were amazing. Background art is usually disposed of after it’s been used in the animation process, however Oga saved a few for himself, and many were preserved and displayed in the Ghibli Museum as well.

The spirit behind Oga and Miyazaki’s collaboration to push their limits and create something beyond expectations is an aspect of Japanese culture I truly admire. There may be times when we want to cut corners in art, and in life in general, however it’s the often overlooked details which hold the greatest significance.


Everything Disney

Knowing that my time is counting down, I immediately bought my boyfriend and me tickets to Tokyo DisneySea. The fact that the ticket was discounted was the icing on the cake. I was really scared that our trip to the Place Where Dreams are Made might be on a rainy day since the rainy season started a week before; luckily, the weather channel correctly predicted that the clouds would part and turn beautiful and sunny. For those wanting to go to DisneySea, buy the tickets when the rainy season begins!


DisneySea has eight attractions, which in turn has numerous entertainments in each of them. The first attraction we tackled was the American Waterfront. Since we were getting our “sea legs” ready, we fumbled a bit. We received our fast passes for the Tower of Terror but we went from one ride to another simply because it had a long line; we did not realize that every line would be long! We did not look at the waiting time estimate so we wasted about an hour going from one ride to another, hoping the line was shorter.

Finally, we became true “sea voyagers” at the Lost River Delta. Since we were walking around so much, we passed the time needed to receive our next fast pass. We decided to “fast pass” Raging Spirits and wait in line for about an hour and a half for Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Crystal Skull, a ride that was about five minutes long. Nonetheless, it was an amazing ride. We followed this pattern of “fast passing” rides, and visiting surrounding rides to pass the time.


Before we knew it, it was lunchtime! Luckily we were at the right place: the Arabian Coast. We ordered curry, rice, nan, white chocolate pudding, and a fruit pudding. After running from ride to ride and waiting for hours, this meal was absolutely filling.


After eating, we used our fast passes and also ran to other rides. Our goal of the day was to ride every ride in the resort. I was really scared we would fail because we arrived at 11am instead of the 9am I wanted. Once the clock hit around 6pm, people started to leave the resort. The sun was setting beautifully and the night shows were beginning. As people were watching the fireworks and shows, my boyfriend and I ran to the rides. With the people gone, we waited at most 30 minutes to ride the popular rides! It was amazing. Another tip for people wanting to go to DisneySea: if you don’t have time, buy afternoon tickets to the resort because the line is much shorter! The afternoon ticket goes from 6pm to 10pm, I believe. My third tip: Disney staff does not push you out of the resort by 10pm even though that is the official closing time.


I spent my entire day in DisneySea, and completed my goal of riding all the rides. The next time I go, I will make sure to watch the shows I missed. I especially want to watch the Little Mermaid musical in Mermaid Lagoon. I left the resort around 10:30pm, wanting to return soon.