Day 20 was a really special day. One of the main reasons why I wanted to go to Tokyo after my university programme was because of the Ghibli museum. I’m actually not that big a fan of huge metropolitan cities (I also generally prefered Kyoto to Tokyo), but I had more than enough reasons to visit Tokyo because of my interest in anime. My sister and I had pre-planned everything, including buying tickets online at the best time (weekday, 2pm) so as to avoid excessive crowds.
But before that, we still had the whole morning to explore around. We decided to go to the Shibuya area, from where we could take a direct train to the museum. First was the very famous Shibuya crossing, the malls in the area and, of course, hachiko.
We walked all the way to yoyogi park, which was about 15 minutes away. There were not too many people there so we took the opportunity to take photos.
After walking around yoyogi park for a while we made our way to mikata, which is where the museum is. The museum was about a 20 minutes walk from the station and you have to walk through a line a shops and a park (Inokashira Park) to get to it. In the park, there was a pond with one of those swan-boat things you sometimes see in shoujo manga! They look more like manual labour than romantic boat ride though.
We continued on until we saw the sign for the museum, which was not too far away. Look at how pretty it is!
And of course, you immediately see what studio Ghibli is best known for the moment you enter the museum grounds.
Just a giant forest spirit
The exterior is full of colour and very inviting. It all feels very much like you’re Alice arriving in wonderland; a very similar, magical feeling to when I visited Disneyland.
Unfortunately, photography is not allowed on the inside of the museum, which i found out after being scolded (again). I was just so awestruck I instinctively pulled out my camera. Also, the tickets are incredibly cool, and are small film strips from one of their movies.
The museum is extremely well made. The walls were decorated with a totoro-esque forest theme and the glass stained windows were absolutely gorgeous. You can tell the amount of effort that went into crafting the museum to make it seem almost like you were stepping into an enchanted world. The whole basement level is an ode to animation and illustrates its techniques and history in a cute, whimsical way.
The first floor was filled with concept art and exhibitions related to some of their short films that are showcased in the theatre on the basement floor. There were watercolour paintings, story boards and it seemed to recreate the studio itself with tables littered with pencils and books.
On the other side of that level was a room with some pixar exhibits (apparently ghibli and pixar are good friends!) There was also a giant cat bus. A GIANT CAT BUS! And you can sit in it!
Anyway, there is also a cafe with an insanely long queue, but you can get hotdogs and ice cream from a separate counter with less people.
The second floor has a large cat bus that kids can play on (lucky kids) and a gift shop where you can get original merchandise. Unfortunately, they don’t have much merchandise for less popular and more recent films. Actually, this is a common problem everywhere, with most of ghibli’s merchandise concentrating on totoro and gigi the cat.
The roof top garden has a giant statue of the nature loving robots from castle in the sky.
Last, and my favourite part of the museum, was the short film. You get one viewing per ticket, and there are no English subtitles. Even so, I immensely enjoyed the exclusive film which you can’t see anywhere else (unfortunately).
There are several films which are showcased on a rotational basis, and the one I saw was called Hoshi o katta hi, or the day I bought a star. The film was absolutely beautiful and the animation was stunning. It felt a bit like howl’s moving castle, which is my favourite ghibli film.
Once we were done with the museum, my sister and I grabbed dinner at a nearby ramen shop. We finally headed back, tired but very satisfied. I highly recommend this wonderful museum. It’s truly an amazing experience (and a hand-crafted one at that). Anyone who enjoys even a few of their films will definitely love it.