Studio Ghibli is without a doubt the most famous animation studio in Japan. The studio has produced some of the most beautiful and awe inspiring films that have stood the test of time, transcended language barriers and inspired millions. The Ghibli museum is the hand crafted legacy of this legendary studio, which elegantly captures the child like wonder you experience through their films.
Located in Mitaka, Tokyo, the museum can be accessed from two train stations – Kichijoji and Mitaka, along the JR Chuo line. I highly recommend that you access the museum through the Kichijoji station, as you can explore the park in which it is located, Inokashira Park. All you have to do is follow the cute signs leading to the museum from there.
And of course, the moment you reach the museum grounds, you see what studio Ghibli is best known for.
The exterior is full of colour and very inviting. It all feels very much like you’re Alice arriving in wonderland. This is where the queue to enter the museum starts.
Unfortunately, photography is not allowed inside its premises, but this allows you to truly experience the museum first hand. The tickets are also really 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 like you are stepping into an enchanted world. The whole basement level is an ode to animation and beautifully illustrates its techniques and history.
The first floor was filled with concept art and exhibitions related to some of their short films. 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 (Ghibli and Pixar are good friends!) and a giant exhibit which is best left as a surprise. Anyway, there is also a cafe with an insanely long queue, where you can buy themed meals! You can also get hotdogs and ice cream from a separate counter, without the crowds.
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, with most of ghibli’s merchandise concentrating on totoro and gigi the cat. You can also access the rooftop garden from there.
Last, and my favourite part of the museum, is 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. There are several films which are showcased on a rotational basis, and this will definitely be the highlight of your day! Although you can watch the movie at any of the stipulated timings, I recommend watching the movie before exploring the museum, as some of the exhibits give insights into these exclusive films which can then be better enjoyed.
Getting tickets is the most important and difficult part, so here’s a quick explanation on how to get your hands on them.
Firstly, you can get them from JTB group overseas, but this is only available at specific regions. Next, the most convenient way of getting them is through Lawson’s online sales, where they are sold a month in advance. Lastly, you can get them directly at Lawson stores. Here are the instructions in English, remember to select the English option to read the instructions! Tickets come with stipulated days and timings.
[Adapted from my now missing Odigo page]