Tokyo Museums: Ghibli Museum 三鷹の森ジブリ美術館
Matthew BaxterThe Ghibli Museum is dedicated to the art and animation of Studio Ghibli, Japan's most famous animation studio, founded by the world-famous Japanese film director Miyazaki Hayao.
Studio Ghibli is known worldwide for hits such as Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro and Princess Mononoke. The Ghibli Museum is located near the hipster town of Kichijoji in west Tokyo, in a town called Mitaka.
The uniquely designed Studio Ghibli building stands out from the woods surrounding it, and the inside is full of some appropriately imaginative architecture. The Ghibli Museum is a must see for devotees of Miyazaki Hayao's films, but new fans will also enjoy the oddly shaped buildings, short films and numerous galleries.
There is also a cafe, restaurant and gift shop with Ghibli-inspired goods for visitors to buy and enjoy. The museum therefore takes at least a few hours to do, especially if you have kids with you who want to play in the Cat Bus Room!
Ghibli buffs will appreciate seeing how their beloved films were made, with models, stills and storyboards showing real insights into the production process. Ghibli Museum has obviously been meticulously designed, and newcomers to Miyazaki's movies will surely be onto iTunes to download some of Studio Ghibli's films as soon as they finish here.
As visitors enter they are introduced into the wonderful world of Ghibli and the imagination of its creator, Miyazaki Hayao. In a sense the whole building itself is a stunning exhibition of his art style, with a cartoon likeindoor environment and architecture, with spiral stairs.
Highlights include the Space of Wonder, a lovely fresco painting with some well known characters from the films. The Central Hall is a wide open space, with a maze of spiral stairs, passageways, bridges and terraces to explore like a child.
Connected to this, the Where a Film is Born gallery and 4 others on the first floor show the creative process of film making in a fun and lighthearted way. Visitors should also get a photo with the Robot Soldier on the Rooftop, a huge statue in a grassy rooftop garden.
Ghibli Museum has a special exhibition every year in addition to the main exhibitions and galleries. The special exhibition sometimes showcases animation and artwork from other studios, or focuses on one of Studio Ghibli's famous films.
There is no extra charge to visit the special exhibition. Information on the current special exhibition can be found here.
Visitors are allowed to view a short film in The Saturn Theatre each time they come. There are several available, and the selection seems to change over time. Once visitors arrive, they are also given a nice slide from the short film or one of the more popular films, which makes for a nice memento of your experience. Some films have subtitles in English.
Ghibli Museum Admission
Museum Hours 10am-6pm. When purchasing, visitors need to decide one of 4 predesignated times to arrive at the museum.
Closed most Tuesdays and around New Year.
Tickets must be purchased in advance from a JTB travel agent abroad, online, or from a Lawson convenience store in Japan (Japanese only). See ticket purchasing details on the Studio Ghibli website or get tickets for the Ghibli Museum from GoodsFromJapan (our sister site).
1000 yen for adults, 700 yen for ages 13-18, 400 yen for ages 7-12 and 100 yen for ages 4-6. Children 3 years of age and under are free of charge.
Access - Getting to the Ghibli Museum
Studio Ghibli is easily accessed from either Shinjuku Station on the JR Chuo Line, or Shibuya Station on the Keio Inokashira Line.
From Shinjuku Station to Mitaka Station
From Shinjuku Station, take the JR Chuo Line to Mitaka Station (20 minutes). From the south exit the Ghibli Museum is a 15 minute, sign posted, walk alongside the Tamagawa Josui canal. There is also a bus for the Museum from Mitaka Station leaving from bus stop no.9 at the South Exit. A round trip on the bus is 320 yen for adults and 160 yen for children.
You can also get off at Kichijoji Station (the stop before Mitaka Station on the Chuo Line - 15 minutes from Shinjuku) and can access the Museum via Inokashira Park..
From Shibuya Station to Kichijoji Station
The Museum can also be accessed from Kichijoji Station, one station east of Mitaka Station. From Shibuya Station, take the Inokashira Line to Kichijoji Station. It is also possible to access the Museum from the previous station on the Inokashira Line, Inokashira Koen Station, but the route is complicated, so going to Kichijoji Station is recommended.
There is no parking available at the museum.
1-1-183 Shimorenjaku, Mitaka-shi, Tokyo 181-0013
Matthew is a blogger and writer living in Tokyo, Japan. He writes for Super Cheap Japan, a travel guide dedicated to budget travel in Japan. You can read more of his work at www.supercheapjapan.com