How Studio Ghibli inspired a brand new preschool design. (Bilingual Kids Co., Ltd インターナショナル幼稚園)

We live very close to Studio Ghibli, in fact the new International Preschool we just built is less than two blocks away. Not only are the movies that Studio Ghibli make incredible, the studio itself is remarkably well designed.  Also in the next street is a row of fabulous construction owned by Studio Ghibli which includes a wonderful kindergarten (no, not ours, this one is for the kids of Ghibli staff only) and several classically designed buildings that look like they came straight out of one of their movies.

 

The main Studio Ghibli building spans a corner of two streets and, like our kindergarten, is three stories high. It is a large white building which has been clearly designed to bring in a great deal of natural light, perfect I presume for drawing in pencil. There is a clear glass walkway high up on the outside of the building which connects the second and third levels.  On the eastern side, vines have been allowed to cover the second level, just above the covered entrance where a big black cat can often be seen lying on their doormat. There are round and square windows, many of which jut out in that classic bay window style. As well as allowing in additional light these also provide greater additional interior space and broader outside views.

 

Much of this inspired us to build our own art studio at the top of our kindergarten. On the third floor we built windows all round and put in an additional sky light which provides perfect natural light for drawing, painting, sculpting and project work. The main walls are an inspiring turquoise and light green. It's a very creative space and all the kids love it.

 

I frequently see Miyazaki Hayao, the original founder of Studio Ghibli, when I’m walking my dog or I’m on the bus. My own kids often come home and say that they “saw the old man with the white hair and white beard again today”.  We have taken many friends and relatives out to see the buildings over the years. It's a quiet neighborhood and I guess that's just the way he likes it.

 

Ghibli Museum is also a great inspiration for us. This is situated right next to my daughters school in Mitaka. Here a great deal of wonder and delight can be found for budding artists. Right from the outset you can tell it's a magic place. Huge sculptures from various movies adorn the outside of a multi coloured, very unique building. A roof top garden and wooded area surround the building, which is why I guess, they call it “Ghibli Forrest.” Inside Ghibli Museum, where there is a great deal of open space, photographs are not allowed. There are hundreds of paintings and miniature models of the original scenes from all your favorite movies on the walls and on low lying tables. The realism of this work is truly mind blowing. A life size model of the famous “Cat Bus” is on the second floor for the kids to play in and everywhere are fantastic working models of clocks and bizarre looking machines which look like they were made for time travel. One of my favorite displays is in the dark room where a movie carousel, still characters on a rotating disk, are brought to life as the carousel rotates under lights.  It gives you a real understanding of how the first movies were ever made.

 

Many of Miyazaki Hayao’s movies depict his love of classic houses, both Japanese and Western. His movies are also known for the great empowerment that he gives children. We decided to build a unique preschool which was a hybrid of both Western and Eastern design. The overall feel of our school isa remarkably flexible design with open space and rooms that can be quickly and easily changed into all sorts of various designs, moods and configurations. A high“Power Genkun”  which allows the children to look down upon their parents as they wave good bye in the mornings is also a prominent feature at the front of the building. The overall feel is Classic Western from the outside and a warm home like feel on the inside.

 

 

For many people Ghibli tickets may be hard to come by and you definitely need to book several months ahead. If you live in Musashino and are looking for a preschool, Kindergarten or Daycare for your child you will likewise need to plan several months ahead. As we are an International School, children from all corners of the world are welcome, and once your child is safely inside the door they will, quietly, without noticing it, be gently spirited away. At least until home time that is!