Right now the days seem to pass by in a blur. Maybe you’re spending your morning staring out the window at the sun shining through the leaves, wishing you could lay in the grass with your friends or walk through your door and seek out an adventure. For now, all our plans for journeys to faraway lands will have to be put on hold — at least physically. Your imagination can still wander fantastical worlds. If you need a little help getting those gears turning, might I recommend taking a tour of the Studio Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, Japan, home to legendary animator Hayao Miyazaki’s most iconic creations.
The museum is closed for the moment due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and plans to reopen in April have been put on indefinite hold. In lieu of physical visitors, the museum is offering virtual tours instead — an exceptionally generous change of heart given that the museum doesn’t even allow visitors to take photographs.
Now anyone feeling lonely, hopeless, or despondent can visit what is probably one of the most uplifting places in the world on the museum’s newly established Youtube channel. You’ll be able to say hello to gentle forest spirit Totoro — guardian of lost children, who we could all use right now, honestly — at the entrance.
Inside, you can check out props from movie sets and visit the Space of Wonder room, which features a mural of some of the studio’s most famous characters, including Kiki the witch, surfing the skies with Jiji on her broom, and Nausicaä, from Nausicaä of Valley of the Wind, speeding by on her jet glider. Another video on the channel lets viewers visit the museum’s Straw Hat Cafe inspired by Howl’s Moving Castle. The museum plans to add more videos as long as it remains shuttered.
Studio Ghibli films are imbued with a singular kind of magic. If what you need right now is to be transported to a world populated by unlikely heroes in the shape of pigs, wizards, and ghosts; creatures both terrifying and magnificent; and normal people who believe there is still good in the world, and who will fight to protect it, then getting acquainted with Studio Ghibli should be your number one priority in self-isolation.