The Ghibli Museum is Japan’s must-see spot for fans of the highly acclaimed films produced by Hayao Miyazaki. Opened in 2001, the museum welcomes excited visitors to the peaceful, Ghibli-esque area of Mitaka, Tokyo. Visitor access is through reservation only, usually at least 1-3 months in advance and tickets can sell out quickly.
Director Hayao Miyazaki envisioned the Ghibli Museum to be a place where everyone, not just fans of Studio Ghibli, can relax, enjoy, and discover new insights into animation. The museum’s motto: “Let’s lose our way, together”—is a slogan that perfectly conveys the spirit of the museum.
Upon entering the museum, the friendly staff will trade your paper ticket for an extra special ticket—an actual cell frame from one of the Studio Ghibli films.
The estate design was influenced by European architecture, and is accented with symbols and landmarks from the beloved Ghibli films. Visitors are taken on a self-guided tour through Miyazaki’s creation process, through the permanent exhibits showcasing replicas of his desk, actual storyboards, and colouring cells. Special temporary exhibitions are held from time to time, usually exploring a particular theme or creative process. Be sure to visit the Saturn Theater to enjoy exclusive screenings of short animated films that are only shown at the Ghibli Museum. Although the films are not subtitled, the stories are relatively easy to follow and aren’t usually dialogue-centric.
Children 12 and under can enjoy playing on a fluffy Cat Bus from “My Neighbour Totoro”. The official museum shop, Mama Aiuto!, sells original museum memorabilia and souvenirs for you to take home. The picturesque Straw Hat Cafe offers a place for visitors to enjoy snacks and desserts whilst sitting among the natural scenery of Inokashira Park.
Note that photography is prohibited inside the museum but is welcome at the outdoor areas, such as the rooftop garden. Reserve your tickets early, either through your local JTB Group sales counters, online via Lawson Ticket, or by purchasing it through a friend or middleman service from Japan. The museum website offers an in-depth guide on the ticket-purchasing process in English. Entry into the museum is staggered by time to prevent the indoor exhibits from overcrowding.
Photo: cowardlion / Shutterstock.com
Closed every Tuesday except: Feb 11, May 5, Sep 22, Nov 3, Dec 22 
Closed at Year-end for New Year’s Holidays and periodic maintenance, maintenance periods vary.
Part of the museum’s permanent exhibition: Where a Film is Born, this room is a replica of Director Hayao Miyazaki’s. Look out for the model airplanes hanging from the ceiling, the toys and sketches that inspired him to create these films.
Watch Ghibli Museum original short films in this beautifully designed 80-seater theater. Look towards the ceiling to see whimsical murals of the sun and moon accompanied by a blue sky. As the film draws to a close, the theater windows open dramatically to let sunlight back in.
One of the icons of the Ghibli Museum, the towering 5-metre Robot Soldier Statue stands guard at the rooftop garden. Make your way to the garden via the spiral stairway near the terrace off the Cat Bus room. During busy periods, you might have to wait your turn to take a photo with the famous statue. Photo: cowardlion / Shutterstock.com
The museum’s official shop is named after the sky pirates in “Porco Rosso”. Unlike Ghibli-licensed stores across Japan, MamaAiuto! stocks exclusive museum merchandise not found anywhere else. Some may even consider the gift shop’s paper bag to be a souvenir in itself.
Take the JR Chuo Line to Mitaka Station. From the south exit of JR Mitaka Station, it's a 15-minute walk to the museum.
A community bus runs from JR Mitaka Station to the museum. The loop bus service runs approximately every 10 minutes. Bus tickets are on sale at the vending machine by Bus Stop No. 9.
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