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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Catbus For Adults At Ghibli Museum

One of my fondest memories of Japan involves me sitting at the Hutchison home in Nikko-shi, Tochigi-ken (home of the three wise monkeys), with their three adorable kids around me as we watched the classic Japanese animated film My Neighbor Totoro.

Released in 1988, the fantasy animated film was written and directed by Miyazaki Hayao, and produced by Studio Ghibli.

I saw it first at the Hutchison house in 1992, I believe, as the kids watched it over and over again on the VCR during my weekend homestay… Homestay is the English phrase the Japanese use when a guest visits your home and stays the night.

Then as now, kids (and home domesticated animals) are drawn to me for no reason that I can fathom, and the precocious six-year-old Tamala made me sit beside her to watch the movie.

I love kids, and I love cartoons, plus I was allowed to have a beer while we watched My Neighbor Totoro.

I haven’t watched it since then… some 24 years later… I’m almost afraid to… in case my current old man-ness has become faded and jaded, and I might think it to be dumb… but how could it… it was magical.

I can still sing a few lines of the movie’s theme song… back in Ohtawara-shi, Tochigi-ken, I would amuse and amaze my junior high school students by singing a few of those lines or humming the music… as they either thought I was cool enough to know such an amazing Japanese thing or a dweeb because I liked a young child’s movie.

However… I know it was the former… the kids would have all sorts of questions for me about Totoro…  so many and so complex that Japanese teachers of English would step in to help answer or to break up the scrum so we could get to class.

Totoro et al really was an effective way to break any barriers down with the kids.

Anyhow, my friend Alice recently sent me a news article via, which notes that the Ghibli Museum in Tokyo will, as of July 2016, have a Catbus for adults.

Not sure what Catbus is? It’s a cat… bus. D’uh.

The museum does have a Catbus that the kids can go in to play… but really… why?

The movie came out in 1988. Assuming a mean age of six (and I know a few six-year-olds that are pretty mean) in 1988, the original movie-goer would now be 34 years old.

An adult.

Nowadays, kids still watch the classics like My Neighbor Totoro… probably because their nostalgic parents force them too, but I’m sure there are far more modern animated films that are grabbing children by the nose…

So… the Ghibli Museum, finally keying in on the fact that its greatest fan base are the kids who are now grown up adults who are in turn getting their kids to watch the movie—have finally done something to reward those adults:

A Catbus they can board - next stop: adventure. Or probably the gift store.

No… I’m pretty sure that Catbus doesn’t travel anywhere (except in your imagination).

The Ghibli Museum will be closed between July 15-17, 2016 “for renovation” which means they are putting in the Catbus for adults.

When it does open, look for the “Ride the Catbus to the Ghibli Woods” exhibit… like you need a prompt.

Anyhow… all of the photos are taken from ignition, who also provide a very nice description of the museum and its attractions.

Ghibli Museum, Mitaka
Shimorenjaku 1-1-83, Mikata City, Tokyo
Open:10:00-18:00 Advanced booking only

To Alice and the Hutchison family… thanks.

By the way… every couple of years or so, Michael Hutchison and I contact each other and share a laugh. Michael is the patriarch of the family and one of the nicest people I have ever met.

Andrew Joseph


  1. My youngest just got a tattoo of on of the acorns Mei follows to find Totoro. She says to her it symbolizes childhood, family and her older sister (They cosplayed Satsuki and Mei).

    It's a truly beautiful film and yes, you should watch it again.

    1. Sigh... I will... perhaps this weekend. Thanks, Pat.

  2. well worth re-watching, don't be a scaredy cat ;) The Bean has so many Totoro items littering her room and walls!

    - A

    1. You are repeating yourself, so I removed a duplicate below. 34 seconds. got it. Not a scaredy cat... it's just that my original memory of it will always trump the next time. Kids...

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