The Ghibli Museaum in Mitaka, Tokyo is a centre dedicated to the Japanese anime produced by Studio Ghibli. Some of the most famous and beautiful anime films have come from Ghibli, including "My Neighbour Totoro", "Kiki's delivery service", "Howl's moving castle" & "Spirited away". The museum is immensely popular, so much so it is necessary to reserve tickets in advance but it is totally worth this effort.

The museum building is an adventure in itself, with winding metal staircases, stained glass windows featuring characters from the animes and a roof garden with a life-size sculpture of the robot from "Castle in the Sky". Cubby holes and low-roofed passages make this a great hands-on experience for children ... or at least they were probably the ones the designers had in mind rather than the adult Brit who managed to squish herself into pretty much all of them.

On the ground floor, a movie theatre showed a short Ghibli-made film and a second exhibit described the process of animation. This was one of my favourite parts in the museum. The room showed different techniques for animation, starting with physically moving models, then onto flip books and zoetropes (which I made in school!) before showing the effects of strobe lighting. The last one of these was demonstrated with a large wheel of models all in slightly different positions. The wheel started to spin fast, resulting in the figures blurring before your eyes until the strobe lighting was turned on. The wheel then appeared to stop and the models on it moved instead, jumping and skipping on the spot. It was truly incredible, even to someone familiar with the principals of animation.

Upstairs, displays showed further details in the making of anime, including a box that held almost 200,000 sheets of paper; the amount used in the making of a single movie. Overlooked tasks were highlighted, such as the work needed to make grass blow in the wind and scrap books of collected photographs showing water pumps and gabled roofs that are later included in the background sets.

On the topmost floor, the shop proved to be a dangerous place. I emerged with a large Totoro. May have to throw out lab books to accommodate it in my luggage.