Located in the small town of Mitaka about 30 minutes from Yokota by train, the Studio Ghibli Museum is a must see for anyone with an interest in art or animation, a love of the studio’s films (such as My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away), or just a desire to become lost in a fantasy world for a while.
The museum is surrounded by Inokashira Park in Kichijoji (see linked Yokota Travel entries), lending to its magical feel. Inside the museum is a warren of rooms carefully tucked behind archways or beyond tall staircases in such a way as to make you feel like you’re exploring another world. The rooms are filled with beautiful tributes to the studio’s works, including shadowboxes, animation cells, and my personal favorite, a live stop-motion display, achieved by a spinning display under an extremely fast strobe light. The upstairs rooms are made to look like fanciful animators’ workstations, the surfaces cluttered with reference objects and the walls literally papered with original sketches from the studio’s films. Stained glass images, inspired by the studio’s most famous films, provide light in the walkways.
There’s plenty for the kids to do, too. A play area with a fuzzy, near life-sized Cat Bus from My Neighbor Totoro takes up an entire upstairs room, and a kid-centric house of lenses and illusions currently fills the temporary exhibit area on the second floor (2013). Throughout other parts of the museum, there are plenty of things to peer into and touch. The kids we saw were especially enjoying the working water pump in the outdoor courtyard. The museum also screens animated shorts which can only be seen there, a favorite with the children.
The museum has two stores. One is a “reading room” filled with books recommended by the museum and famous animator Miyazaki, as well as a book of museum photos and its various displays. The other gift shop is full of everything from inexpensive pens and pins, to necklaces and statues costing hundreds of dollars.
Note that photography inside the museum is not allowed, but there are plenty of photo ops outside, so you may want to bring your camera. We enjoyed getting our picture with the giant rooftop robot guardian from Castle in the Sky!
Tickets are ¥1000 per adult, and less in varying age categories for children. Tickets must be purchased in advance at a blue Lawson store. Follow these instructions as the Lawson machines are not in English: Ghibli Museum Ticket Purchase Instructions. Museum entrance times vary and are printed on your ticket. Entrance windows are every two hours from 10:00am-10:30am to 16:00pm-16:30pm, Wednesday through Monday, except during certain holidays. Phone: +81 570-055-777. GPS: 35.696323, 139.571232. Roxanne Ready, July 2013.
DIRECTIONS BY TRAIN: Take the JR Ome Line to Tachikawa, then switch to the JR Chuo Line towards Tokyo. Get off at Mitaka Station, the seventh stop. Then walk from the South exit for 15 minutes along the Tamagawa Josui “Waterworks”, a waterway easy to spot for the extreme overgrowth of greenery surrounding it. Or if you don’t want to walk, take the community bus from Mitaka Station to the museum for ¥300 per adult, half price per child, round-trip.