Exhibition: When Marnie Was There (思い出のマーニー)


During our April 2015 visit to Matsuyama on Shikoku, there was an exhibition of dioramas based on the Studio Ghibli film When Marnie Was There at the Ehime Museum of Art (website in Japanese).

Both my husband and I are Studio Ghibli fans. Neither of us had seen the film, or even read the book by Joan G Robinson, but we both wanted to see the exhibition. It was a really rainy day, so perfect for visiting the museum, which is located within the bounds of the Matsuyama Castle moat.

Although it was only a short walk from our hotel to the museum, by the time we got there we were drenched. We left our dripping coats and bags in a coin locker and paused in front of the exhibition information panels in the foyer to take photographs, before heading up to the exhibition floor to buy our tickets.

The exhibition was great, full of animation cels, preparatory sketches, storyboards and a reconstruction of the production designer Yohei Taneda’s studio. Because I’m an archivist working in a museum, I’m always interested in the way paper based objects are displayed in exhibitions so, although photography of the original artworks wasn’t allowed, I sneaked a shot of one of the fixings for a sketch book.


Such a museum nerd. But look at how neat that is.

Anyway. The full scale dioramas of scenes from the film were stunning. They really made me feel as though I was in the scene. There wasn’t any English interpretation available, so I wasn’t able to glean much about how the dioramas had been put together, or how much involvement Yohei Taneda had had in putting the exhibition together.




I was very taken with the life sized reconstruction of Marnie’s bedroom. The attention to detail was astounding. I would like to have known whether the exhibition team made all the “antique” items, or whether they were items that Yohei Taneda had collected as inspiration for his production design and had then given them to be used in the exhibition.


It interested me that 3D models of sets for a 2D film had been made. Again, I wasn’t sure whether they had been made by the production team behind the film to aid with creating the animation cels, or whether they were something made for the exhibition. The work that had gone into them was immense. Some of the dioramas had video projections of scenes from the film embedded in them.


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It was a lovely way to spend the morning. If we’d had time, it would have been good to look around the rest of the museum, but we spent too much time in the shop afterwards and also wanted to go to Dogo Onsen in the afternoon. Next time we are in Matsuyama, we will make time to look at the other exhibits in this museum, and maybe visit some more of the museums Matsuyama has to offer.

7 responses to this post.

  1. […] Kanda Myojin (神田明神) Exhibition: When Marnie Was There (思い出のマーニー) […]


  2. Posted by Yannick Dupon-Hirao on 18/08/2016 at 1:53 am

    I just discovered this blog while I am staying in Japan fot the 11th or 12th time I don’t remember exactly. A Ghibli Studio fan too, I have seen “Marnie” movie. Very beautiful indeed, but the end was a deception to me. “Le soufflé est retombé” as we say in France. By the way, I love this blog as a japanophile myself and you are great, but I cannot understand being a vegetarian. What a loss of pleasures in life !!! And in Japan too : Kôbe beef, sashimi, sushi, tonkatsu…


  3. Excellent blog post!!! 😃😃😃😃


    • Posted by Yannick Dupon-Hirao on 27/09/2016 at 7:42 pm

      I was in Matsuyama myself on last August (what a heat !!!) and went to Ehime Museum, but at that time exhibition was about Bhutan (coming from Ueno, Tokyo). Not uninteresting, Bhutanese clothing art especially, and the wonderful butterfly that Bhutan offered to Japan !
      Matsuyama is famous for its haiku poets, like Shiki, or Santôka, and its novelists, like Shiba Ryôtarô or Natsume Sôseki. Strangely enough, the whole city celebrates the love story of Botchan and Madonna, from the Natsume Sôseki novel “Botchan”, but there is no love story at all between them in the novel !! I guess it comes actually from some soap opera program…
      The Shiki Museum is a big one ! In France, have we such a building just for a poet ??
      And the Shiba Museum is even bigger ! Built by the best Japanese architect, Tadao Andô !!
      People say that Miyazaki was inspired for “Spirited Away” by the Dogo Onsen, but a Japanese friend showed me another big sized bathing building in Taiwan which is much higher and closer to the film.


      • I understand it was hot a bit in Japan, but could you at least say something about my comment? Like a ‘thank you perhaps’?

    • Thank you very much, Osmovies. I’m glad you enjoyed it.


      • Posted by Yannick Dupon-Hirao on 28/09/2016 at 7:10 pm

        Osmovies, did you stay in Matsuyama ? Or elsewhere in Japan ? What do you recommend to us for a next trip, please ? Do you know the Ghibli Store in Mosaic (Kôbe) ? and the one close to Nene-no-michi in Kyôto ?

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