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Tokyo, Japan

The Giant Ghibli Clock

Tokyo’s only Vaudeville-cuckoo clock–steampunk-Victorian curio cabinet time piece. 

Officially called the “NI-Tele Really BIG Clock,” four or five times a day this wacked-out symphonic mega-machine spins, dances, whirs and clanks. And as a side gig, it also tells the time.

The giant clock is in the Shiodome section of Tokyo, at the Nittele Tower (headquarters of Nippon Television). It was designed by Hayao Miyazaki, the renowned director and co-founder of Studio Ghibli, and while it’s not exactly drawn from his 2004 film Howl’s Moving Castle, it’s been likened to the aesthetic of the anime classic.

The clock is huge: over 20 tons of copper and steel, three stories high and 60 feet wide. Besides chiming out the time, there are over 30 mechanical vignettes at appointed hours, including cannons, a couple of blacksmiths, a wheel spinner, boiling teapot and two bell-headed piston crankers. They all move in a delicate and industrious ballet, some reminiscent of a cuckoo clock and others like 19th century tin toys.

The clock springs to life four times on Monday to Friday, with an extra show on Saturdays and Sundays. Each performance begins about four minutes ahead of the hour, and you can see it from many different spots around the Nippon TV tower. But get as close as you can so you can really see the detail. Anime fan or not, Miyazaki’s clock is crazy with detail.

Know Before You Go

The clock is located in front of the Nittele Tower (Nippon Television headquarters). It jumps into action every day at noon, 3pm, 6pm and 8pm, and there is an extra morning chime on Saturdays and Sundays at 10am.It’s a good idea to get there a few minutes early, so you’re ready when the music begins and the wheels start to turn.Take the Yurikamome Line to the Shiodome station or get off at Shimbashi station where several of the main lines meet.