Although a bit outside the main center of Tokyo, it was definitely worth the trip here. My friend is an animator and we are both fans of anime, so it was a treat to come here and learn about the animation process.
Original drawings and cels are on display, and visitors get an understanding of the methods used to create animated movies. Several interactive displays convey the magic of animation, breaking the motion down moment by moment.
During our visit, an entire wing was dedicated to Ponyo, the latest movie, with a big glass box containing all the finished handdrawn cels from the movie. We were also treated to a free showing of a 15 minute mini-movie.
Every visitor also gets a souvenir of 3 scenes from a Miyazaki movie.
Whether or not you were an animation fan beforehand, you will definitely gain a new appreciation for the animation process and the hard work that goes into it.
My friend really wanted to do this experience, and I'm glad we did it. Even though it was a bit pricey (18000 yen regular price, but 3000 yen off for the Maiko and Geiko plans with a coupon on their website), it was well worth every yen spent.
The staff is very friendly and accomodating. It was a 2 1/2 - 3 hr process (faster if you aren't so kimagure like me), and they applied white makeup on our faces, fit us into our kimonos (who knew geisha wore so many layers!), and gave us a choice of which color umbrella or handfan we posed with in our pictures. After the photo shoot in the studio, we were given 10 minutes of free time in the garden for as many poses as we liked.
As a bonus to the pictures we paid for, the staff also took additional pictures of us with our own cameras throughout the transformation process and during the professional photo shoot.
Afterwards, we were presented with the pictures they chose already printed out. The optional digital CD and printed sheet of proofs cost an extra 3000 yen.
Honestly, I couldn't recognize my friend nor myself! But we were absolutely beautiful and felt so graceful in our new identities.
This experience will definitely give the tourist a new appreciation for the daily lives of a geisha.