Sunday, 9 January 2011

Studio Ghibli Museum

Nestled in a park in Mitaka, Tokyo, is the Ghibli Museum (三鷹の森ジブリ美術館). The Mecca of anime fans everywhere, it's a wonderful celebration of the magic created by the studio through its many films. It was designed by Hayao Miyazaki (the director of many Ghibli films) himself, with the view of creating a museum that both young and old alike can get lost in.

Getting a ticket can be a little difficult if you are not based in Japan, however JTB (Japanese Travel Bureau) affiliates My Bus will sort you out tickets for just 1000JPY, about £8. It's worth remembering that the museum is very popular, so it's worth snapping up your tickets as soon as possible (My Bus release them 3 months in advance). However if you do want to chance it, and can understand written Japanese then tickets can be purchased at Lawson stores over in Japan. However I would recommend My Bus, as when tickets are bought from Lawson (although they are cheaper) they are timed tickets, so you only get 3 hours to look around, whereas when tickets are bought via My Bus you get the whole day to explore.

When you arrive in Mitaka you can either walk through the park to the museum, or grab the brilliantly decorated local bus service.

The museum itself is a hodgepodge of funny shaped little buildings, all crawling with ivy and other plant material, with lots of little surprises everywhere, from stained glass windows to small details such as taps and floor tiles.

 Upon arrival you get a nice surprise in the ticket booth, before (hopefully) realising that the real entrance is just a little further up the path. Once at the entrance a guide will check your passport details against your paper ticket, before allowing you to enter. Security is tight, but smiley.

 Photo from: Studio Ghibli Museum

Once you are allowed inside, there is an amazing fresco painted on the walls and ceiling of the entrance hall. After you've gaped at this for a little while you can approach the ticket desk and have your paper ticket swapped for a lovely proper ticket, featuring animation cells from one of Ghibli's films.

Then, you're in - properly! The main hall is full of shimmering lights and metalwork. It's clear from the beginning Miyazaki has put as much effort into the details here as he would his animations.

  Photo from: Studio Ghibli Museum

Moving on, there is a room featuring a series of animation-themed exhibits which change over time. However one mainstay seems to be a My Neighbour Totoro-themed zoetrope.
Photo from: Flixster

Up a floor is a mock up of an artist's studio which is stuffed to the gills with...well stuff. Random bits and pieces inspired by Miyazaki and Takahata's studios, as well as hundreds of colour sketches from the Ghibli films. 

  Photo from: Studio Ghibli Museum

There's also a giant catbus room, where school-aged children can see what it is like to clamber aboard the furry animal (while making all the otaku adults jealous!)

  Photo from: Studio Ghibli Museum

And one of the highlights of the museum is the Laputa-esque roof garden, complete with futuristic cube and giant robot soldier.

   Photo from: Studio Ghibli Museum

Be sure to take the time to check out the musical insect seats and ridiculously funny water fountain (press it - you'll see what we mean!) on your way up to the roof garden. 
Perhaps the best part of going to the museum is the chance to visit the Saturn Theatre - where you can view an exclusive Studio Ghibli short. These films are never shown anywhere else, so seeing one is really quite a special experience.

 Photo from: Studio Ghibli Museum

Once you have explored the museum you should head out to the roof terrace and either grab a quick snack (hotdogs, icecream and drinks) from the small hole in the wall servery or join the queue to get into the Straw Hat Cafe - which serves delicious local produce in sandwichs, soups and pastas as well as giant cakes and non-alcoholic cocktails. 

Photo from: Kaz

And then - possibly the best bit! - there are two shops to browse! Mamma Auito, which sells a variety of merchandise, including giant Totoro plushies, jigsaw puzzles and musical ornaments, and Trihawks, which sells beautiful Studio Ghibli art books alongside books recommened by Studio Ghibli members.

 Photo from: Studio Ghibli Museum

So take some time out, visit the Ghibli Museum in leafy Mitaka and remember what it is like to look through the eyes of a child.


  • Open 10am-6pm 
  • Generally closed Tuesdays
  • Admission Fee: Adult: 1000JPY, 13-18 years old: 700JPY, 7-12 years old: 400JPY, 4-6 years old: 100 JPY
  • Local bus: 300JPY return
How To Get There

You can get to Mitaka from Shinjuku station by taking the JR Chuo line. The ride is approximately 20 minutes and costs under 500JPY.
You then take the Mitaka South Exit, from here you can walk through Inokashira Park or you can catch the community bus at the well-signposted bus stop just outside of the station (bus stop #9).


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