On our first full day in Tokyo, we went to two museums: the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka and the Snoopy Museum in Roppongi. My friend is a big fan of both and hadn’t made it to either museum on her previous trips so we decided to go on this trip. In this post, I’ll talk about the Ghibli Museum.
One of the reasons my friend hadn’t made it to the Ghibli Museum before is that you have to buy tickets ahead of time as they don’t sell tickets on site. I’m not sure if tickets sell out quickly or not but I thought it safest to buy them ahead of time. If you’re in Japan, their site states you can buy through Lawson convenience stores and if you’re elsewhere, they have a list of JTB offices you can buy from depending on the country. You can find the list here.
I purchased through the JTB office in Torrance, CA. Basically, you fill out a request online here with up to three preferred dates (and I believe it is valid for ONLY that date) and then one of their agents will e-mail you back on the availability and ask you call them to make payment. Adult tickets were $15 I think but then you had a choice of them mailing you the voucher for $14 via FedEx (free shipping if purchasing with a JR Rail Pass) or picking up during business hours for free. It would be pretty inconvenient for me to pick-up from Torrance on a weekday so I opted to have them mail the voucher to me. It’s important that you don’t lose the voucher or maybe it would be a good idea to have a scanned copy just in case.
The museum isn’t located in central Tokyo but a little west of Shinjuku in Mitaka. It’s a short walk or bus ride from either Mitaka Station or Kichijoji Station. Going to the museum, we alighted at Kichijoji Station and walked through Inokashira Park and leaving, we walked to Mitaka Station. Personally, I preferred walking through the park where we even stopped to enjoy our breakfast (onigiri or rice balls we bought from a market).
From either station though, you’ll start seeing these cute signs directing you to the museum and depending on which direction you’re coming from, you’ll either see the line of people waiting or the actual entrance sign showing you you’ve arrived. For us, we didn’t notice the sign until we left. Instead we saw people lining up and quickly went to join them since there was already quite a group.
We got to the museum maybe 20 minutes before 10 AM when they open for business and were lined up inside the museum grounds but before they opened doors, the line was already past the museum gate. Even before entering the actual museum, there were things to see though. They had a large Totoro on display and little things here and there.
When they museum opened, we began to file in and would go to a ticket counter to show our voucher and passports (DON’T FORGET YOUR PASSPORT!!!). The voucher is then exchanged for film strips that act as your ticket to the theater where you can watch a short film. Also, there is NO photography or videography allowed in the museum except on the rooftop garden and the restaurant area.
Inside the museum there are various exhibitions related to the various films. One exhibition area were full of sketches and prints such that you felt like you were viewing the creation of a film. There was a special exhibition related to all the food and meals in the various films and so on. To be completely honest, I haven’t watched that many Ghibli films and the ones I did watch were from when I was in elementary school and my parents had a few on VHS dubbed and subbed in Mandarin Chinese. Suffice to say, it probably wasn’t as meaningful to me as it would be to a true Ghibli fan.
However, I did very much enjoy the short film and highly recommend any future visitors to make sure they do not skip out on that. I believe the short film shown is switched every once in a while so if you go more than once you may be able to view different shorts. I also enjoyed all the stained glass images throughout the museum and if you’re really getting itchy to take photos, make sure you go up to the rooftop garden where you’ll find the Robot Soldier (yes, I looked that up) standing guard over the museum.
The Straw Hat Cafe is supposed to be very nice but there was a very long line so we decided to forego it but there is a take-out stand with ice cream, hot dogs and there own beer! It did seem kind of odd that they had their own beer with all the kids running around but we gave it a try and it was pretty good! The art on the bottle is also very nice. I actually ended up bringing the bottle back home with me so now I need to figure out how I want to use it.
Last but not least, there is also a gift shop (of course!) with lots of Ghibli merchandise to choose from. All in all, I think we ended up spending about 2 hours at the museum.
If you’re a big Ghibli fan, I highly recommend you make a stop at the Ghibli Museum as it is pretty magical. Even if you’re not a huge fan but you’ve seen a movie or two, it could be a nice stop in your trip but with the whole needing to buy tickets beforehand, it may not be worth all the trouble. However, the fact that photography is not allowed does mean that everything is fresh as you won’t see much of any “preview” photos online which is nice and the short film is very cute.
Hours: 10 AM – 6 PM
Admission: ¥1,000 or $15 if you buy from JTB USA (Adults)
Address: 1-1-83 Simorenjaku, Mitaka-shi, Tokyo 181-0013
Nearest Station: Mitaka Station or Kichijoji Station