A Wonderful Tribute to Miyazaki and Takahata
Ghibli Museum is dedicated to the Japanese animation studio of the same name, and located in Inokashira Park in Mitaka, in Tokyo’s western suburbs. The Museum opened in 2001 to offer a behind-the-scenes glimpse on the studio’s famous works such as Spirited Away or My Neighbor Totoro.
Ghibli Museum was partly built under the supervision of celebrated director Hayao Miyazaki’s son, Goro Miyazaki who was in charge until 2005. Since 01 October 2001, the Museum has been unveiling the famous studios’ backstage and the work carried out for movies such as Howl’s Moving Castle 🏯 or Princess Mononoke.
Get off the small station of Kichijoji and walk through the lovely Inokashira Park. On the way, cute, decorated signs will show you directions. Otherwise, you may also get off at Mitaka station and take the neko-bus (the enormous flying cat 🐈 sporting innumerable legs featured in My Neighbor Totoro) to get the feel of the atmosphere straight away and avoid walking.
The large entrance gate appears at the edge of Mitaka forest after a few minutes. A giant Totoro plush toy stands in a make-believe ticket booth to welcome visitors. The tour starts by the exteriors of the Museum, to appreciate its fun architecture. Then visitors can hand over their visit vouchers to the staff waiting under the entrance arbor.
About 650,000 visitors come to the Museum each year. In January 2017, it was announced that 10 million customers were welcomed since its opening.
Important notice: Advance booking is compulsory!
Inside the Museum
After a short wait in line, visitors are given their entrance ticket and an official Ghibli Museum brochure translated into several languages as well as a small piece of film print from one of the studio’s movies. The visit is conducted in Japanese only and photos are forbidden inside the building.
Several variously sized rooms are arranged to let visitors discover the indescribable charm inspired from Studio Ghibli’s universe. Exclusive paintings and cuts of film celluloids, wonderful dioramas with animated toy figures, a reproduction of Hayao Miyazaki’s office are on display and a large room hosts temporary exhibitions, mostly about the Studio’s latest release. There is an adjoining playroom with an enormous neko-bus plush toy where only children may enter and have fun!
A spiral staircase leads to the Museum’s roof where a life-size reproduction of the Castle in the Sky’s giant robot is standing as if waiting for you to take a picture with him. On the way down to continuing the visit of the exteriors, a coffee shops offers indoor and outdoor relaxing spaces. And naturally, a very well supplied shop (named "Mamma Aiuto" after the gang in Porco Rosso!) will provide an opportunity for delighted visitors to spend the yens 💴 in their wallets.
Since photos and videos are forbidden, very few inside views of the Museum are available. During its closing period due to Coronavirus 🦠 pandemic in spring 🌸 2020, the Museum published a series of short videos of its empty rooms, that we have collected in the following playlist:
However, there is nothing like actually going in order to take in its unique atmosphere.
A movie theater called "Saturn Theater" was built slightly underground. It shows unreleased exclusive Studio Ghibli’s short movies such as Kujira Tori ("Whale Hunt") or Chu Zumo ("The Mouses’ Sumo"), most of which were produced or even directed by Hayao Miyazaki himself! At the time of writing, it is not possible to see these funny little movies anywhere but at the Museum, neither on DVD nor Blu-Ray, and they cannot be downloaded either, which adds to the unique experience of watching them at the Museum. A total of 10 movies are programmed, of which 8 have been directed by Hayao Miyazaki, including his latest Kemushi no Boro ("Boro the Caterpillar") since October 2017.
- From July 17, 2016 to May 2017: a second plush Neko-bus was accessible to adults.
- From May 27, 2017 to the end of November 2018: exhibition about food and cuisine in Miyazaki’s movies (the toasts from Castle in the Sky, onigiri 🍙 rice balls from Spirited Away, the kitchen from My Neighbor Totoro, etc.)
- From November 16, 2019 to May 2021: exhibition on Hayao Miyazaki’s creation process, with the rehearsal of a short movie "Imaginary Flying machines" at Saturn Theater.
- Since January 22, 2021: exhibition Aya and the Witch, by Goro Miyazaki and puppet play in the central hall.
Get a feel of Ghibli Museum’s magical atmosphere by taking a look at our photo gallery until you can discover it all onsite.
Other Ghibli Official Attractions
Totoro’s House / Ghibli Park (Aichi)
Since 2005 Aichi’s Morikoro Park near Nagoya displays a life-size Satsuki and Mei house.
In May 2017, the Studio announced the construction of an amusement park named Ghibli Park around the house, with a phased opening between 2022 and 2023.
Donguri Kyowakoku shops (Japan)
A retail store chain with stores throughout Japan, Donguri Garden, holds the official license to sell Ghibli by-products and goodies. For more information, read our article:
Shirohige cafés (Japan)
This is the only bakery chain authorized to serve drinks and Totoro-shaped pastries. The original shop is in Setagaya, but a new store opened in early 2019 in Kichijoji near Ghibli Museum.
"May's Garden House" Restaurant (Thailand – definitively closed)
Opened in late May 2018 (with a pre-opening since April 16), it was the first Studio Ghibli official restaurant (except for the Museum’s café). It was in Bangkok’s Sukhumvit district, a place that producer Toshio Suzuki enjoyed a lot during a travel. Aside the guests’ reception by a giant Totoro, the restaurant featured a classical table setting, as well as a playground for children, a pond, and a library.