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Ghibli Museum, Tokyo

last update: February 08, 2020
The Ghibli Museum, Mitaka no mori Jiburi bijutsukan in japanese (三鷹の森ジブリ美術館, literally "Ghibli Museum, Mitaka Forest"), is a museum entirely dedicated to the fairy world of Studio Ghibli, a Japanese animated film studio among the most famous in the world. The museum was inaugurated in 2001 and was strongly desired by Hayao Miyazaki himself, one of the most important animators in the history of cinema, who also contributed a lot to the project. An extract of his words about it..

"This is the Kind of Museum I Want to Make!
A museum that is interesting and which relaxes the soul
A museum where much can be discovered
A museum based on a clear and consistent philosophy
A museum where those seeking enjoyment can enjoy,
those seeking to ponder can ponder, and those seeking to feel can feel
A museum that makes you feel more enriched
when you leave than when you entered..."
(read more)

Practical info

Admission:: 1000¥

Opening hours: 10:00-18:00, but you can enter the museum at designated hours only: 10-10:30/12:00-12:30/14:00-14:30/16:00-16:30

Closing days: every Tuesday, with some exceptions (official closing days calendar)

Time needed for the visit: at least 2 hours for a relaxed visit, but many fans of the Ghibli films stay there up to 4-5 hours. Once inside, you can stay until closing time

Other useful info: the ticket cannot be purchased on the spot or even on the day of the visit, but must be booked well in advance (More information)

The Ghibli Museum

The museum is located on the border between Mitaka and Kichioji, inside Inokashira Park, one of the most fascinating parks in Tokyo.
The architecture of the building is unique, an art deco structure designed by Hayao Miyazaki himself, which integrates perfectly with the surrounding park. That extravagant atmosphere, which is a peculiarity of the imaginary world of the Ghibli films, can be immediately perceived from how the museum looks from the outside, with sinuous and colorful motifs and unexpected details scattered here and there.
ghibli museum
Once you have crossed the entrance gate to the museum area, there is a fake ticket office with the Totoro cat inside. You can go through this first gate even without a ticket. If you are desperate because you failed to purchase a ticket to visit the Ghibli Museum, you can still take a walk through the Inokashira Park, take a picture with this Totoro, glimpse the external shapes and colors of the building and feel even more bitter.
totoro at ghibli museum
Before going inside, each visitor must exchange his ordinary ticket for a souvenir ticket that contains an original film. This is a great souvenir not to be thrown away.
ghibli museum's film ticket
Taking pictures is not allowed inside the building, as visitors are encouraged to "explore the museum with their own eyes and senses, rather than through the viewfinder of a camera", and to bring their memories home.

To respect the philosophy of this museum, we will not publish photos of the interior. You just need to know that the interior style is reminiscent of many films by Studio Ghibli, with various extravagant elements such as bridges on the ceiling, balconies, spiral staircases, and many fun objects that recall various characters from the Ghibli world.
ghibli museum map There are no maps or routes to follow, this is the only museum map
The museum is divided into three floors, and a roof terrace
The permanent exhibition of the museum is located mainly on the first floor, where they explain all the work behind the animation of the Ghibli films, the evolution over the years of animation techniques, and exhibit sketches, drawings and dioramas related to their films and many other objects. For example, a large zootrope with Totoro's characters.

In the basement of the building there is the Saturn Theater, a cinema room where to watch special never-released short films that can only be watched in this place. In total there are 9 short films, depending on the period you may find one rather than another. At this link you can find out the current and next short films. The audio is in Japanese and without subtitles, but rest assured that the dialogues are not strictly necessary to enjoy the shorts. Running time 10-18 minutes.
mei and the baby catbus

Mei and the Baby Gattobus

Perhaps not everyone knows that the movie My Neighbor Totoro (1988), one of the most famous Japanese animated films of all time, has a sequel or spin-off, if you like, that has never been released anywhere. You can only watch it at the Saturn Theater of the Ghibli Museum, a few days a year, when it is scheduled.
Mei To Konekobasu (めいとこねこバス, "Mei and the Baby Gattobus") is a short film of 2002 written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki, lasting 13 minutes. The short tells the story of little Mei's encounter with what looks like a Gattobus puppy. The two fly together up into the sky to the midnight forest, where they will meet many interesting characters.
The second floor hosts temporary exhibitions, which could be about a particular aspect of the film-making process, or about a specific film, or sometimes even a non-Ghibli film (temporary exhibitions schedule).
Here there is also the Cat Bus Room, with two larg and soft Catbus (from the movie My Neighbor Totoro) to play with. Until a few years ago there was only one catbus and it was only for children, causing strong envy of adults. Today fortunately there is a Gattobus for everybody.

Going up through a narrow spiral staircase you get to the roof garden, one of the few areas where photography is allowed. Here is the guardian of the museum, a 5-meter high bronze statue, sculpted by Kunio Shachimaru, depicting a robot soldier from the movie Laputa - Castle in the Sky.
The vegetation in this garden is such that you almost forget that you are on the roof of a building. One particular corner looks like the Totoro forest.
laputa robot ghibli museum
Moreover, there is an internal courtyard with a really functioning water pump, recalling some movies (Spirited Away, Kiki's Delivery Service).
ghibli museum water pump

Other attractions

straw hat cafe ghibli museum

Straw Hat Cafe

The Straw Hat Cafe (Café Mugiwara Boushi in japanese) is located in a raised courtyard inside the museum. The menu includes hot and cold drinks, cakes and other desserts, but also sandwiches, curry rice, omurice and pasta (red the full menu in japanese). All the ingredients should come from organic farms. Outside the cafe, a small stand also sells hot dogs, chips and ice cream. In this cafe you will not find neither traditional Japanese food nor Ghibli-themed food, with the exception of some flags depicting some characters as decoration.
Be prepared for a long wait to get a free table, especially around lunchtime.
mamma aiuto ghibli museum

Souvenir shop Mamma Aiuto

Of course there is a well-furnished gift shop inside this museum, full of Ghibli gadgets of all types, including jewelry, pins, figurines, T-shirts, posters, and so on. Many of these items can be found in many other themed stores across Japan, but some things are exclusive to this shop. In the shop's blog (in japanese) you can see some of these exclusive items.
The shop was named after an air pirate gang in the movie Porco Rosso, set in Italy. "Mamma Aiuto" literally means "Mom, help" in italian.
tri hawks ghibli museum

Tri Hawks Bookstore

In the museum library, located next to the gift shop, you will find a collection of children's books that inspired the films of Studio Ghibli, and many other books selected by Miyazaki himself. You will also find manga versions of each Ghibli film, large illustrated books on Ghibli shorts shown at the Saturn Theater, postcards, and more. The name Tri-Hawks is nothing more than a literal translation of "Mitaka", the name of the neighborhood where the Ghibli Museum is located.

Is it worth visiting the Ghibli Museum?

If you are a fan of Studio Ghibli's films or you have seen any of them, the answer to this question is too obvious, it is absolutely worth it, you will love this place.
If you have never seen a Ghibli film in your life, it is equally obvious that you will not be able to appreciate the many details inside this museum that recall this or that film. However, the museum can still be fun and interesting, because it makes you discover many things about animation techniques and a world you don't know.
If you have never seen a Ghibli movie, it is recommended that you watch at least a few before visiting the museum. We particularly recommend Spirited Away (2001), My Neighbor Totoro (1988), Kiki's Delivery Service (2002).

How to get Ghibli Museum tickets before it's too late

Tickets for the Ghibli Museum cannot be purchased on the spot, but must be purchased in advance. As one of Tokyo's most popular tourist attractions, tickets for the museum often run out several weeks in advance.
It is highly recommended to buy tickets for the Ghibli Museum as soon as possible.

Ticket sales period

Tickets for the visit during a given month are put on sale, in the direct sales channels, from 10:00 (be careful: japanese time) on the 10th day of the month preceding the visit. So, for example, tickets to visit the museum between July 1st and 31st can be purchased starting from 10am Japanese time on June 10th. Tickets are valid only for the specified date and time of entry. Some travel agencies allow you to book your ticket from 3-4 months before the sale starts.

Where to buy the Ghibli Museum tickets

You can buy tickets for the Ghibli Museum mainly in four ways:

What to do if the tickets are sold out: last minute tickets

Well, yes, even if tickets are sold out everywhere, there are a still a couple of last resorts to try before giving up. The Govoyagin platform sells last-minute tickets which can sometimes be found up to 3-4 days before the day of entry. Of course, the price for this service is much higher than the standard price, around 8,000-10,000¥. Try to buy last-minute tickets for the Ghibli Museum

Guided tour of the Ghibli Museum and scenarios of the film Spirited Away + lunch

This guided tour in English not only includes a visit to the museum, but also an all you can eat buffet lunch at the Hotel Gajoen Tokyo, used as a model by Miyazaki for the castle of the film Spirited Away. After lunch you will visit the Ghibli Museum, and, after that, you will also visit the Edo Tokyo Open Air Museum, another place that inspired Miyazaki.
Buying this guided tour is certainly an interesting alternative for any Ghibli fan, but it is also an additional resource to try in case the tickets are sold out in the direct sales channels. In fact, it may happen that the tour operator still has some tickets available. Book a guided tour of the Ghibli Museum

How to get to the Ghibli Museum

As already mentioned, the Ghibli Museum is located within the vast Inokashira Park, more or less the same distance (1.2 km) from two consecutive stations along the JR Chuo line, Kichijoji station and Mitaka station.
Both stations can be easily reached from Shinjuku station (18-20 minutes, 220¥).

From Kichijoji station,take the south exit and look for the entrance to Inokashira Park. Once inside the park you should find various maps and directions for the museum. More information about Kichijoji

From Mitaka station, take the south exit, and simply go on foot by following google maps or the signs on the street. If you get off at Mitaka station, you will also have the opportunity to take a bus that connects the station with the museum (210¥, 320¥ round trip, half price for children). The bus leaves from stop No.9 in front of the south exit of the station. More information on this bus.
bus ghibli museum

Guided tours, activities and other things to do

If you are planning a trip to Japan and you want to do something more than just visiting famous places and monuments, we suggest you to use Rakuten Travel Experiences.

How to use Rakuten Travel Experiences

Rakuten Travel is a very useful website to enrich your travel experience, especially if you are going solo or it's your first time in Japan.
Because of the language barrier (and more), in Japan it is very difficult to interact with the locals and to get off the tourist track.
Thanks to Rakuten Travel you can find a lot of interesting and sometimes unique guided tours and activities all over Japan (and not only in Japan), that you would otherwise never be able to enjoy.
But there's more: on Rakuten Travel you can also buy tickets for several famous attractions, events, transportation and other useful services for tourists. Last but not least, you can reserve a table in hundreds of restaurants.

Some examples

Take a look at Rakuten Travel Experiences

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