“Lose your way”, the Studio Ghibli Museum floor guide tells you. And it’s not wrong, Miyazaki’s charming museum is best enjoyed by wandering aimlessly — no minute-by-minute itineraries here.

The Ghibli Museum is located in Mitaka, a small city in the western Tokyo area. It first opened in 1998 and celebrates the work of Studio Ghibli, the world-famous animation studio headed by Hayao Miyazaki and Toshio Suzuki. The well-loved studio has a global fan base thanks to its heartwarming stories and memorable characters. So if you’re one of those fans, this guide is for you.

Here’s everything you need to know, including how to buy tickets for the Ghibli Museum and what to do when you get there.

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What is the Studio Ghibli Museum Mitaka?

Ghibli Museum
Ghibli Museum entrace. | Photo by Adriana Paradiso

The Studio Ghibli Museum Mitaka is a celebration of all things Studio Ghibli. It has no set path and was designed by Hayao Miyazaki himself. It’s 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.”

Pro tip: Find Ghibli fun all over Tokyo with our special Tokyo for Ghibli lovers guide.

Which is better: the Ghibli Museum or Ghibli Park?

no face sits on a train
You’ll find No Face at Ghibli Park,not the Ghibli Museum. | Photo by Maria Danuco

Both places have their pros and cons. The Ghibli Museum is in Tokyo so it’s much more conveniently located than Ghibli Park, which is in Nagoya, a city that isn’t usually on tourists’ itineraries. Ghibli Museum tickets are also considerably cheaper than Ghibli Park tickets. But Ghibli Park has a lot more to offer hardcore fans, both in terms of things to see/experience and souvenirs, and because it’s a much bigger space so there are more tickets available. Another key difference is that photography is not allowed inside the Ghibli Museum at all, while Ghibli Park allows photography in most areas.

Buying tickets for the Studio Ghibli Museum

Tickets released on the 10th of each month
Buy tickets via the official websites (domestic/international)

We’re not going to lie, it’s hard to get Ghibli Museum tickets. But, that’s to be expected, it’s one of the most popular attractions in Tokyo afterall. And to make matters worse, it’s a small venue so ticket numbers are limited, and they go on sale online a month in advance with no possibility of on-the-day purchases. So long story short, if you want to buy Ghibli Museum tickets you need to be organized. Let’s diver a little deeper.

Ticket prices are as follows:

Adults (ages 19 and over)¥1,000
Ages 13–18¥700
Ages 7–12¥400
Ages 4–6¥100
Ages 3 and underFree

How to buy tickets for the Studio Ghibli Museum

Totoro’s waiting to meet you. | Photo by Maria Danuco

You can buy tickets for the Ghibli Museum via their official websites — there’s one for domestic sales and one for international sales. The rule of thumb is that you should use the domestic site if you’re in Japan, and the international site if you’re not. It is technically possible to use the domestic site from overseas, but this may require a VPN and Google Translate. Each of the websites releases a new batch of tickets on the same day, usually at 10 a.m. (+9 GMT JST) on 10th of each month. The tickets are valid for a pre-selected time and date during the following month. For example, if you want to get Ghibli Museum tickets for April 16, they will be available online from March 10. Tickets also have specific entry times, and a window of 1 hour to enter. So if your ticket is for 10 a.m. you can enter between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m., no earlier and no later. But there is no time limit once you’ve entered so you can stay as long as you like.

Important: Studio Ghibli Museum tickets can sell out very quickly, especially on the international site.

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How to pick up your Ghibli Museum tickets

If you buy your ticket through the international site, you will receive an email with a barcode for your ticket. You should print this out and bring it to the museum.

Or if you bought your ticket on the domestic site, you’ll need to pick your ticket up from a Loppi ticket machine at a Lawson convenience store. Japanese language ability will help you in this case.

Ghibli Museum
The rooftop garden, | Photo by Adriana Paradiso

Tips for getting Ghibli Museum tickets

Given how tough it is to get tickets, here are some tips to help you secure your ticket to Miyazaki’s museum.

  • Set up your account ahead of time
  • Know what dates you want ahead of time
  • Buy your Ghibli Museum tickets early in your trip planning so you have some flexibility
  • Get in the ticket queue before the release time, not after
  • Be prepared to wait. During peak travel seasons tickets are in very high demand and you could be waiting for over an hour to buy your tickets
  • Have more than one credit card ready for payment — even better if you have a Visa and Mastercard option, and an actual credit card not a debit card — sometimes the website can be temperamental about what kind of payments it accepts
  • Use a computer to make the booking if possible, the mobile site is not as user-friendly

Note: We are unable to confirm this but it seems that if you join the queue before the ticket release time, your place is randomized, but if you join after the ticket release time you go to the end of the line. This means that joining the queue before the release time is certainly worth it.

Other things to know about Ghibli Museum tickets

Here are some other things to keep in mind when you buy your Ghibli Museum tickets:

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  • Make sure you put the correct name on the tickets and carry ID — staff may check in order to prevent resales
  • Choose your entry time and date carefully, you can’t make changes after purchasing
  • Tickets are non-refundable and non-transferable
  • Check the museum’s opening days ahead of time, they’re usually closed on Tuesdays and national holidays
  • Re-entry is not allowed
  • You can buy a maximum of six tickets at a time
Look how pretty the outside is. | Photo by Maria Danuco

What to see at the Ghibli Museum

The Ghibli Museum has eight points of interest spread over three floors, plus the rooftop with its Robot Soldier.

Basement Floor

You enter the museum through the basement floor. This is where you’ll find the Information Counter, the Saturn Theater screening room, and the The Beginnings of Movement permanent exhibit room. Plus there are coin lockers, toilets (including an accessible toilet), a nursing room, baby stroller storage facilities, and an elevator for access to the other floors.

The Saturn Theater

The films are only screened in Japanese. There is no English support available (no subtitles or audio guides).

When you enter the Ghibli Museum you’ll be given a one-time entry ticket for the Saturn Theater that you can use at any time during your visit. The Saturn Theater screens original short animations that can only be seen here and at Ghibli Park. The same film is shown throughout the day, so you don’t have to worry about which one to pick. You can check the schedule at the front of the theater to see the screening times — there are usually multiple screenings every hour depending on the length of the film.

The theater is wheelchair accessible, and assistive audio devices are available if you understand Japanese. Throughout the day there are also some screenings with Japanese subtitles.

Note: The use of mobile phones is strictly prohibited during the screening, so unfortunately you can’t use your nifty translation app while you watch.

Ghibli Museum
Can you see it up there? | Photo by Adriana Paradiso

Permanent exhibit room: The Beginnings of Movement

This exhibition delves into some of the technology of animation. There are some interactive elements and everything has a distinctively Ghibli theme. Unfortunately, none of the displays are translated into English, but that isn’t a barrier to enjoyment here.

Note: Strobe lights are used in one of the displays, so exercise caution if you are sensitive to this.

First floor

The first floor houses the Straw Hat Café, the Where a Film is Born permanent exhibition, and the special exhibition room. It also has toilets (including an accessible toilet), and diaper changing facilities. When you’re ready to go home at the end of the day, you also exit via the first floor.

Where to eat at the Ghibli Museum: The Straw Hat Café

You are allowed to eat outside food in the seating areas of the café.

Ghibli Museum cafe
Have a light lunch or dessert. | Photo by Adriana Paradiso

The Straw Hat Café is a great place to grab a bite to eat and something to drink. It has both an outdoor seating area and an indoor area, and two places where you can order. The menu features light meals and snacks like hotdogs and sandwiches, as well as a variety of sweets and drinks.

Allergy information is displayed on the menu, however vegetarian and vegan options are quite limited. There is no information available on halal options. If yo’re unsure you can check the menu on the official website for more information.

Permanent exhibit room: Where a Film is Born

The exhibition is all about the production of animated films. You’ll see desks and art supplies everywhere, and drawings and sketches all over the walls. It’s quite delightful to look at, but not super informative — there are very few written explanations in Japanese, let alone in English.

Special exhibit room

The displays in the special exhibit room change every 6 months or so. At the time of the most recent update (June 2024), the special exhibition is The Boy and the Heron Part 2: Layouts. It features the actual hand drawn layout sketches and cells used in the film. The Boy and the Heron Part 3: Background Art is scheduled to start in November 2024 and run until May 2025.

Second floor

The second floor has the famous Cat Bus Room, the Tri Hawks reading room, and the museum shop Mamma Auito. It also has toilets (including an accessible toilet), and diaper changing facilities.

The Cat Bus Room

Free to enter
Only for children under 12 years old
The Cat Bus Room is home to a giant Cat Bus that’s set up specifically for kids to climb all over and play in. Kids will have to take off their shoes to get into the play area, and may need to wait in line depending on how many other children are already playing. Keep in mind that while the Cat Bus is supervised by staff, it’s not a child care facility, and the staff may not speak English.

Reading room: Tri Hawks

Tri Hawks features a wide range of books from picture books to novels and nonfiction, said to have inspired Miyazaki in his film making. Visitors are invited to spend as much time reading them as they like, but keep in mind that most of the books are in Japanese.

Museum shop: Mamma Auito

Mamma Auito is where you’ll do your souvenir shopping at Ghibli Museum. Compared to the Ghibli Park souvenir shops, and even some Donguri stores (dedicated Studio Ghibli merchandise stores you can find all over Japan), the shop is fairly small and has a more limited range of items. It also gets quite crowded, so unless you want to get a specific Ghibli Museum limited edition souvenir, you can give this a skip. Instead visit one of the the Donguri stores in Tokyo — we recommend the one in Tokyo Station Character Street or at Tokyo Skytree for their convenience and proximity to other attractions.

Rooftop Garden and Robot Soldier

Up close and personal. | Photo by Maria Danuco

The rooftop is not considered “inside the museum” so you’re allowed to take photos here. The Robot Soldier is easily the most recognizable photo spot, so the area might be a little crowded but that does mean that you’ll be able to ask someone nearby to take your photo for you.

Just keep in mind that you can only get to the Robot Soldier via a spiral staircase, so people with limited mobility may not be able to reach it.

How to get to the Ghibli Museum

Follow the signs at Mitaka Station to the Ghibli Museum bu stop. | Photo by Maria Danuco

The museum is within the bounds of Inokashira Park in Mitaka, on the west side of Tokyo. To get there, take the JR Chūō Line from Shinjuku Station (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 round trip only). 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!

Frequently asked questions

Ghibli Museum
The Robot Soldier. | Photo by Adriana Paradiso

Where is the Ghibli Museum?

The Ghibli Museum is in Mitaka on the west side of Tokyo. Don’t get it confused with Ghibli Park which is all the way over in Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture.

Is the Ghibli Museum in Tokyo worth it?

For the low entry price of ¥1,000 the Ghibli Museum is certainly worth it. But, given how hard it is to get tickets, diehard fans might get more out of Ghibli Park instead.

How long do you need for the Ghibli Museum?

Including time to watch the short film, expect to spend around 2 hours at the museum.

Can you take photos inside Miyazaki’s museum?

No, unfortunately you can’t take photos inside the museum. You can take photos of the outside of the museum though, including at the café and on the rooftop.

While we do our best to ensure it’s correct, information is subject to change. Post first published in December 2015. Last updated: June 2024.

Written by:
Maria's Tokyo favorites are: Sushi Oumi, Small Worlds Tokyo
Filed under: Art | Museums And Exhibitions
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