Written by Chiara Mischke
The Ghibli Clock In Shiodome - Enjoy Hayao Miyazaki’s Art For Free!
Studio Ghibli is famous all over the world. If you want to enjoy a very special piece of art created by Hayao Miyazaki himself you should stop by Shiodome in Tokyo to see the Ghibli Clock, an impressive work of art displayed publicly.
Studio Ghibli’s movies are famous all over the world. Hayao Miyazaki’s craftsmanship is one of a kind and for many fans, visiting the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka is a must during their trip to Japan.
However, it can be a challenge to get tickets to the museum. They tend to be sold out within minutes after release and you can’t buy tickets at the museum itself. If you have missed out on the museum or want to enhance your Ghibli experience in Japan, we would like to introduce you to the Nitele Big Clock, also known as the Ghibli Clock, located close to Shiodome Station in Tokyo.
This amazing clock is a piece of Miyazaki’s world you can enjoy for free at any time of the year.
The Ghibli Clock – A Project of Six Years
The official name of the Ghibli Clock is "Nittele Oodokei" (Nippon Television’s Big Clock). It was revealed to the public on December 20th, 2006.
The clock was designed by Hayao Miyazaki himself and built by Kunio Shachimaru. Shachimaru is also the creator of the big Robot Soldier on top of the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka.
Building this clock was a project that took six years to complete. In the end, they revealed a magnificent 10 meters high and 18 meters wide Cuckoo Clock weighing an incredible 28 tons.
A Detailed Piece of Art
Like Miyazaki’s movies, this clock is extremely detailed. It's almost impossible to spot everything at the first visit.
Miyazaki never confirmed whether the clock was inspired by his 2004 masterpiece Howl’s Moving Castle, but the similarities are striking. The Clock was created around the same time as the movie and both have an undeniable Steampunk vibe.
Maybe you could even say that the clock inspired the movie and not the other way around.
The claws the clock is standing on are exactly like the ones that move Howl’s castle. They are reminiscent of dragon or dinosaur claws and they are nearly as tall as a person.
Looking up from the claws you can investigate the details of the body of the clock.
It is built like a house, or a castle, with many rooms. Every room houses a different scenery but they all come together as the machinery that makes the clock move.
There are two types of tin men inside the clock. There are three members of each type.
The first type is the Lantern Man. You can spot the three lantern men working in the left wing of the clock. They have an antique looking lantern as their head which lights up when the clock moves.
Two of them work as blacksmiths. The flame they use for their work looks very similar to Calcifer, Howl’s little fire demon. The third Lantern Man moves the gears of the clock.
The second type is the Bell Man. Their home is the right wing of the clock. They have little bells as heads which seem to ring when the clock moves.
Two of them are working the gears just as one of the Lantern Men.
If you look closely, you can spot a tiny clock above them.
It's rather amusing that the clock houses a clock inside itself. But I guess if you're working as hard as these little guys you have to know when it’s time to go home.
It's details like these that make the clock truly one of a kind. While everyone else is working hard, the last little Bell Man seems to be just dancing around.
Maybe even inside a Ghibli Clock, there has to be that one person playing around while others work, just like in real life.
The Clock Comes to Life
The clock comes to life every day at 12 PM, 3 PM, 6 PM and 8 PM. During the weekends, an extra show is added at 10 AM.
The times are kind of odd so make sure you check them before you go. However, it is really worth it because there is even more to see when the clock is moving.
The clock starts moving 3 minutes and 40 seconds before the full hour.
First, the clock face starts moving and all the tin men spring into action to help the clock to move. Music starts playing, a door swings open and shut and the flame used by the blacksmiths moves up and down. The canons on top of the clock adjust their position and nearly everything inside the clock is moving one way or another.
Close to the end of the show, the two smaller claws underneath the clock face are starting to move up and down.
They are acting as the hands of the clock. While they are moving, the two balls they are holding are slowly opening up. The left one reveals a sun while the right one reveals a small cuckoo clock.
The magic will be over much to fast for the watchers to investigate all of it. But you can always come back and watch the show again as it won’t cost you anything, except the money for a train ticket.
The Magical Show at Night
Picture from: Top 5 Stunning Public Art Installations in Tokyo
We recommend watching the clock’s show at least twice, once at daytime and once after the sun has set. At daytime, you can investigate all the details and see the red copper shine in the sun. At night, however, you can see the clock lit up in all its mystical glory.
In the dark, it appears mysterious and almost scary, yet playful at the same time. Nighttime gives it the same kind of atmosphere movies like Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle have.
Get Carried Away by Miyazaki’s Magic
The sign underneath the Ghibli Clock states that Hayao Miyazaki collaborated with Nippon TV to create a piece of art that would be loved by everyone eternally.
They might just have achieved that. Even if you are not a fan of Studio Ghibli, this magnificent piece of art is worth seeing up close. It is cute and lively enough for children to enjoy, while grown-ups can marvel at its beauty and detail.