The Ghibli Art Museum, dedicated to the animation studio of the same name, is located in the small town of Mitaka, in Tokyo’s eastern suburbs. It was built under the supervision of Goro Myazaki, the son of celebrated director Hayao Miyazaki, who then remained in charge until 2005. One can discover the work carried out backstage of the famous studio that gave birth to Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke.
From the small station of Kichijoji, walk through the lovely park of Inokashira. Prettily decorated signposts will point the way for you. As an alternative, you may also get off at Mitaka station and take the neko-bus (the enormous flying cat sporting innumerable legs featured in My Neighbour Totoro) to get the feel of the atmosphere straight away and avoid walking.
The large entrance gate appears after a few minutes, at the edge of the Mitaka forest. A giant plush toy Totoro standing before a fake ticket office welcomes visitors, who are first taken to see the outside of the building, a funny architectural fantasy. They then hand over their vouchers to the staff under the arbor.
Caution: Advance bookings are compulsory.
Inside the Museum
After a short wait in line, you are given your 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.
There are several variously-sized rooms where you can discover the indescribable charm of the worlds created by the Ghibli studios. You will see exclusive paintings on paper and cels (transparent sheets of cellulose acetate), wonderful dioramas with animated toy figures, a reproduction of Hayao Myazaki’s office and a large room where temporary exhibitions are hosted, mostly about the studio’s latest release. There is an adjoining playroom with an enormous neko-bus plush toy where children only may have some fun!
Climb the spiral staircase to the roof of the Museum where a life-size reproduction of the giant robot from Castle in the Sky is there for you to take a photo of him. When climbing back down to continue your visit of the outside of the Museum, there is a coffee shop for you to relax indoors or on the outside patio. 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. A chain store with shops throughout Japan, Donguri Kyowakoku, holds the official licence to sell Ghibli by-products and goodies.
Since photos and videos are forbidden, very few media images show the inside of the Museum. This virtual tour with commentaries in both Japanese and English is therefore very welcome for those who wish to take a look at it:
However there is nothing like actually going in order to take in its unique atmosphere.
There is a movie theater built slightly below ground floor level. It is called the “Saturn Theater” and shows unreleased exclusive short movies from the Ghibli Studio such as Kujira Tori or Chu Zumo (most were produced or even directed by Hayao Myazaki 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 Blue-Ray, and they cannot be downloaded either, which adds to the unique experience of watching them at the Museum.
Get a feel of the magical atmosphere of the Ghibli Museum by taking a look at our photo gallery until you can discover it all onsite.
How to get to Ghibli Museum
By train -- Two solutions:
- Mitaka Station (JR Chuo Line - from Shinjuku, 15 minutes or 20 minutes by Local train) and a 5-minutes in the Neko-bus
- Kichijoji Station (JR Chuo Line or Keio Inokashira line) and a 15-minute walk through the park
By taxi -- Address: 1-1-83 Shimorenjaku, Mitaka-shi, Tokyo 181-0013, Japan (Tel 0570-055777)
Location reachable with the JRP : order your Japan Rail Pass (from ~US$ 271)
- ¥1,000 (~US$ 9.10) for 19 years old and over
- ¥700 yen (~US$ 6.40) between 13 and 18
- ¥400 yen (~US$ 3.60) between 7 and 12
- ¥100 yen (~US$ 0.90) between 4 and 6
- free for children under 4 years old
Neko-bus: ¥210 yen (~US$ 1.90) one-way / ¥320 (~US$ 2.90) return / half price for children
Get your Japanese Yens free of charge
Open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. except on Tuesday, holidays and certain vacation periods (indicated on the official website calendar)
Café open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
How long / when to visit
From one to three hours inside the museum / about half a day in total from Tokyo
Best season: all seasons
三鷹の森ジブリ美術館 (Mitaka no Mori Ghibli Bijutsukan)