Studio Ghibli Museum

Studio Ghibli Museum @ Mitaka, Tokyo, Japan

Lady and Chris had both seen a bunch of Ghibli movies over the years and wanted to see the museum. So we went.

I’m not very familiar with Studio Ghibli’s works. I remember Princess Mononoke being somewhat popular in high school, but never saw it. I know they made Totoro, but never saw it. Spirited Away is another of their movies, but surprise, I never saw it.

To see the museum, you must order tickets in advance through a travel agent in the US (JTB is what we used) or at a Lawson in Japan.

When we got there, the lines were the longest for anything we’d ever seen in Japan. It wrapped around the building and then stretched quite a ways inside. They only let a certain number of people in per day so if you don’t have a ticket, you’re not getting in.

Lines @ Studio Ghibli Museum, Mitaka, Tokyo, Japan
The outside of the building is covered in ivy and looks like something out of a fairy tale. You can go up on the roof garden and play around in the dome.

Inside the museum itself, no photographs are allowed.

There was an information desk that was supposed to have either an audio tour or literature in English, but they had neither at the time. We were flying completely blind– inside the museum, not a single thing is in English so if you want to understand anything about the history of Ghibli, you’ll need some form of assistance.

Part of what you pay for with your admission is access to a special showing of an exclusive Miyazaki short film involving characters from some of his films. I think there was a flying cat (Totoro?). This part may have had English subtitles, I don’t remember.

They did have some cool exhibits that did not require interpretation, such as demonstrations of rotoscoping and a tour of (what I’m guessing was) Hayao Miyazaki’s original office, complete with all the tools he’d use and books he’d reference. They had some concept art posted for an upcoming film about Japanese Zero pilots the studio is producing, which was pretty neat.

Exterior @ Studio Ghibli Museum, Mitaka, Tokyo, Japan
This was definitely one of the more child-friendly attractions we’ve seen so far. There’s even a life-size Totoro-thing kids can climb and slide from.

At the same time, the gift shop was pretty disappointing. They had all manner of artbooks and collectables for sale but nothing as simple as a Totoro plush doll to bring home for the kids.

So, Ghibli. It was neat but kind of pointless if you don’t read Japanese and they happen to be out of English materials that day. Also if you’re looking for child-friendly souvenirs, you probably won’t find them at the gift shop.


Pro-family and anti-drug, when he's not too busy living with four beautiful ladies, he likes long walks on the beach and poking dead things with sticks.

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