Local Crowdfunding Campaign Saves Japan's Ghibli Museum From Permanent Closure

The coronavirus pandemic forced thousands of businesses around the world to permanently close this past year. In Japan, Xinhua reported that as of May, 1,500 businesses have either declared bankruptcy or shut down due to the effects of COVID-19. But residents of Japan banded together to help save the fate of one of its favorite spots, which has become beloved by both locals and tourists alike. Thanks to generous Japanese donors, the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, Japan, has been saved from permanent closure.

Last week, the city of Mitaka launched a crowdfunding campaign for the Ghibli Museum—otherwise known as the Mitaka City Animation Museum—with a goal of roughly $90,000. The campaign asks for each donor to contribute a minimum of $45, which will then be given as a grant to the Tokuma Memorial Cultural Foundation for Animation, the organization that runs the museum. Donations can be used as tax write-offs and the campaign is open to Japanese residents only.

According to the campaign's website, the city of Mitaka gave the museum a grant last spring; however, the grant did not provide enough funds to cover the costs of "large-scale" repairs. So, the city created the campaign in the hopes that Ghibli fans from across the country would pitch in to help. And help, they did.

Though the goal was rather large, the campaign page announced that it was met within 24 hours. But the donations didn't stop there. As of the writing of this article, the campaign has raised about $217,000 with 197 days still to go.

"We would like to express our sincere gratitude to everyone who made a donation," said the city's mayor on the official campaign page.

The museum opened in 2001 and welcomes about 700,000 guests each year.

"It is a facility that can be called a treasure of Mitaka City, which is attracting attention from all over the world as a base for transmitting culture," reads the description on the campaign page. "And in October of this year (3rd year of Reiwa), we will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the opening of the museum."

Reiwa is Japan's "imperial era," which officially began in 2019, reports The Guardian.

Fans of the studio's work can easily get lost in the wonder of the museum, which offers special exhibitions about animation as well as original short animated films from Studio Ghibli that can only be seen at the museum.

"Forgetting the hustle and bustle of everyday life and spending time at the museum will be an irreplaceable and important time not only for children but also for us adults," reads the campaign.

"We look forward to your support so that the museum will continue to be properly managed and operated, and that it will continue to be a cozy place you can always enjoy with a smile."

Hayao Miyazaki
Generous donors from across Japan helped save the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, Japan from permanent closure. Above, pictured is Hayao Miyazaki, a co-founder of Studio Ghibli; he designed the Ghibli Museum. Getty/Kevin Winter / Staff