Lose Your Way at the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, Tokyo

Aaron Baggett
ghibli museum mitaka
Photo by kaige used under CC

Studio Ghibli is a part of my childhood in the same way that Disney and Universal were before they started rolling out direct-to-video bastardized sing-a-longs of all my childhood memories. I have probably seen Pom Poko about as many times as I have seen Star Wars—and believe me, I have seen Star Wars a lot. If you have not seen Pom Poko, but, like me, hold a deep appreciation for heartwarming stories about raccoons waging war on humanity, you owe yourself the courtesy of seeing it. For all the other Ghibli and Miyazaki superfans, your next step is to visit the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka.

Ghibli Museum
Characters from Miyazaki’s movies come to life. | Photo by Kentaro Ohno used under CC

Buying tickets for the Ghibli Museum

The Ghibli Museum is a great experience for young and old alike, and for ¥1,000 a pop you can’t go wrong. However, the Ghibli Museum is also one of the most popular attractions in Tokyo, and you need to buy tickets in advance. We recommend avoiding stress and sorting them out online; it costs a bit extra, but is way easier if you’re traveling from overseas.

Haven't reserved tickets for Tokyo's Studio Ghibli Museum? No problem - get them online here. click here for details
 Suggested Activity 

Pro tip: An easy way to see both the Ghibli Museum and Edo-Tokyo Open Air Museum is by joining this top-selling tour for Ghibli fans. It includes lunch and transport, making it a good deal.

If you’re here for a month or so, you can also stop by a Lawson convenience store and use their Loppi automatic ticket vending machine to buy your entry pass. Tickets for the next month go on sale from 10am on the 10th of each month. What this means is that you might not be able to secure tickets through Lawson unless you buy them pretty far in advance, like on the day they come out.

Note: Under no circumstances should you just show up at the museum and try get tickets on the day—it will be a wasted trip. However you decide to buy them, be sure to get your tickets ahead of time.

ghibli museum tokyo
Photo by Kentaro Ohno used under CC

Get lost in the magic

If I had seen the giant Totoro (below) as a kid, my head would have exploded from the sheer whimsical power emitting from him. I mean just look at his huge fuzzy face. For all we know, the cat bus is about to pull up at any moment.

The Ghibli Museum has no set path and was designed by Hayao Miyazaki himself. It is obviously aimed at children, but adults should have no trouble becoming lost in Miyazaki’s world. Indeed, the museum’s motto is “Let’s lose our way together.”

Ghibli Museum totoro
Totoro’s job, post Jollywood. | Photo by nakashi used under CC

Inside the Ghibli Museum

The inside of the museum is a bit like a maze. It looks like Bruce Wayne’s manor built in an alternate universe, in which he grew up spoiled and happy without the memory of his dead parents to sully his mood 24/7. There are a couple of permanent attractions, such as the bottom floor’s history of animation showing off an impressive assortment of zoetropes, stroboscopes and other cool things I had to Google to figure out what to call them.

48 Hours in Hong Kong on Less Than US$100 read more
Hong Kong Cheapo

There is also an exhibit dedicated to the life and work of Hayao Miyazaki. It gives an intimate tour into his journals and drawings; while it is impressively detailed, the most memorable aspect that it left with me is that the life of an animator really sucks. That and Hayao Miyazaki has smoked more cigarettes than Joe Camel.

Ghibli Museum wall
Photo by shuets udono used under CC

There are often special temporary exhibitions too. Recently, one of these involved a cat bus for adults to clamber around—sadly, that’s gone now and only kids under 12 can get close to the version of the cat bus on display.

Visiting Tokyo soon? Don’t leave without downloading our ebook!
20% off coupon code: TYO7382.

The robot on the roof

At the top of the museum is a full-scale replica of the robot from Castle in the Sky ,and it’s one of the only spots where you’re permitted to take photos. Clamber up to see it and check out the architecture of the museum at the same time.

Ghibli Museum Mitaka
A favorite selfie/we-fie spot. | Photo by Kim Ahlstrom used under CC

Exclusive films at the Ghibli Museum

Another cool thing you’ll find at the Ghibli Museum is that the ticket for a secret Studio Ghibli film is included with the price. These short films have never and will never be released outside of the museum, so this is a really good opportunity to gain something that you can hold over an annoying anime fan that likes to name-drop obscure films no one has ever seen.

ghibli museum
Photo by Bougvla used under CC

Tea and gifts

The Ghibli Museum has a cozy little tearoom where you can take a break from the crowds and enjoy a cute cappuccino and light meal. There’s also a gift shop where you can pick up memorabilia and maybe a souvenir or two. But be warned, it ain’t all that cheap!

Ghibli Museum
Latte art at the Straw Hat Cafe. | Photo by bm.iphone used under CC

Getting to the Ghibli Museum

The museum is within the bounds of Inokashira Park in Mitaka, on the west side of Tokyo. To get there, take the JR Chuo Line from Shinjuku Station (you’re looking at about 20 minutes). From Mitaka Station, you can either walk to the museum (just follow the signs—it’s a 15-minute stroll), or catch a shuttle bus (¥320 return, ¥210 one way). There’s about one bus every 10 minutes. Sadly it’s not a cat bus. Though it does have a picture of the cat bus on it. Meta!

Ghibli Museum bus
Photo by Tai-Hua Lu used under CC

Can’t get enough of the Miyazaki magic? Find Ghibli fun all over the capital with our special Tokyo for Ghibli lovers guide.

This post was last updated in December 2017.

Written by:
Filed under: Art, Things to do
Tags: Anime, Family, Ghibli, Ghibli Museum, Hayao Miyazaki, Kids, Museum, Studio Ghibli, Totoro
Tokyo Cheapo small logo
Name: Ghibli Museum
Pricing info: 19 years and older: 1,000 yen | 13-18 years: 700 yen | 7-12 years: 400 yen | 4-6 years: 100 yen
Address: 1-1-83 Simorenjaku, Mitaka-shi, Tokyo 181-0013
Location(s): Kichijoji, Mitaka,
Access: Mitaka
Web: http://www.ghibli-museum.jp/en/
Business hours: 10:00-18:00, Closed most Tuesdays, as well as year-end and periodically for maintenance
Places Mentioned

Watch this next
New Video: Exploring Toyosu—Tokyo's Revitalized Fish Market

Our video guide to the tuna auctions at the shiny new Toyosu Fish Market

Get our Tokyo Cheapo Hacks direct to your inbox

Recommended hotels located nearby

Questions or comments about this article? Start a thread on our community forum