If you can't get enough of the whimsical world of Ghibli, there's no better place to go than the Studio Ghibli Museum in Tokyo. Visiting takes some planning because purchasing Ghibli Museum tickets isn't easy, but the trouble is worth the trip. Even if you've only seen a few of Studio Ghibli's movies, the museum will capture your imagination. You'll also get an immersive lesson in director Hayao Miyazaki's production process.
Studio Ghibli is the creative giant behind many beloved Japanese animated movies such as Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, and My Neighbor Totoro. Their intricate technique focuses on movement, and animators include as many details in the backgrounds as they do in the foregrounds. When you watch their films, the characters and settings seem realistic, no matter how fantastical the plot is.
When the Studio Ghibli Museum opened in 2002, Hayao Miyazaki wanted to design a space that reflected his distinctive style and reveal the behind-the-scenes operations. The result became one of Tokyo's—and Japan's—most popular museums for children, families, and fans of Japanese animation.
When you approach the entrance, you'll see Totoro at the "box office." It's a charming place for a photo-op, but not where you'll find tickets for the Ghibli Museum. You can buy tickets at Lawson convenience stores or other third parties, but you'll need to act fast! They sell out within minutes of becoming available.
The Ghibli Museum's hours are from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm every day except Tuesdays. There are also irregular closing days due to holidays and exhibit changes. Once you determine when you want to go, you'll need to get your tickets at least one or two months in advance.
The Ghibli Museum releases tickets on the tenth of every month at 10:00 am Japan Standard Time. Note that the available dates will be for the following month. For example, if you want to visit the Studio Ghibli Museum in April, you'll need to buy your tickets in March. You can use Lawson's website to purchase them from outside of Japan, but you'll need patience, persistence, and a little luck. The high volume of traffic can make the site run slowly.
It's possible to go through a resale site or a third party, but these options can incur high fees. To avoid these kinds of charges or frustration trying to get tickets yourself, consider booking an anime tour through a company like us. Not only will you have a guaranteed ticket, but you'll also be able to see other anime-related spots in Tokyo.
Your ticket will include both an entry date and time. Try to arrive about thirty minutes before your scheduled time, and don't forget to bring your passport to validate your identification. Inside, you'll exchange your paper ticket for an official ticket, which is a roll of film from a random Ghibli movie scene.
The Ghibli Museum is easy to access by public transportation, even if it's your first time in Japan. It is equidistant between Mitaka and Kichijoji Stations. From Mitaka Station, you can board a Ghibli-themed shuttle bus for a small round trip or one-way fare.
If you choose to walk, we recommend going through Kichijoji Station. The trendy neighborhood is home to sophisticated independent shops and department stores. You'll also pass through Inokashira Park, which is one of the best places to see cherry blossoms in Tokyo.
Part of this place's charm is that there's no official Studio Ghibli Museum tour. Once you go inside, you're free to explore any path around the facility. There are three floors of exhibits, including a theater, cafe, gift shop, and a rooftop garden.
Many people stop by the Saturn Theater first, which is in the basement. The small theater seats around 80 people and plays short films produced by Studio Ghibli that are exclusive to the museum. They change monthly and run several times an hour.
Next, check out the main exhibition hall. This room illustrates the production process of animation with interactive contraptions like zoetrope show boxes and panorama boxes. You can watch sketches and models come to life by turning cranks and spinning knobs.
Another permanent exhibition room recreates the animators' work stations that include details from the type of paint they use to the snacks they prefer to keep on their desks. Inked and uninked sketches litter the walls, as well as scrapbooks of pictures that show how Studio Ghibli takes inspiration from nature, machinery, and abstract art.
In other areas of the museum, you can explore life-size models of scenery from your favorite films. There are also special exhibits that change periodically. These temporary displays highlight characteristic features of Studio Ghibli, such as the food you see, how the artists paint the backgrounds, and even first-draft sketches.
Before you reach the rooftop garden, you'll pass a room with a life-size plush catbus from the movie My Neighbor Totoro. Only children aged 12 and under can enter to play and climb in this room.
From the catbus room, you'll take a spiral staircase to the garden where a giant robot from Laputa: Castle in the Sky looms over you. The path from here will lead you to the Ghibli Museum's shop and the Straw Hat Cafe, where you can purchase desserts and drinks.
Although your ticket will have a specific entry time, once you go inside, you can stay until the Ghibli Museum closes. Many travelers are surprised when they see how small the Ghibli Museum is from the outside. Future visitors hearing this might wonder if the Ghibli Museum is actually worth the trip. However, it'll take you longer than you might think to get through everything.
Stained glass windows and art cover every inch of the walls, as well as drawers and shutters to open and discover hidden treasures. You'll also want time to spend in the Saturn Theater, take a break at the cafe, and shop for souvenirs. You can easily spend two hours without realizing so much time has passed!