Sunday, August 22, 2010

Travel Guide to Ghibli Museum

Taken at the rooftop garden. This metal giant is HUUUUGE!

If I could point out the best moment during my indie travel in Tokyo, it would be visiting 'Ghibli Museum'. It's truly the best place for artists and anime lovers to date!

Having immersed myself in anime and manga at a very young age, it would kill me not to go to one of Japan's greatest animation museum. Hayao Miyazaki is the leading man behind the great animations from Spirited Away, Totoro and his latest creation, Ponyo. The cartoons often leave me smiling in glee like a 5 year old kid :)

There are a few extra steps needed in order to have a fun, smooth ride to Ghibli.

STEP 1: Getting the tickets
They don't have ticket counter sales at the museum. Thus, you need to buy tickets in advance. Period. It's a very Japanese thing of having to prepare everything in advance, I'd say. If you're living in US, Canada, Australia, NZ, Hong Kong, Taiwan or any other parts of European countries, then you're in a luck as you can purchase tickets at your local JTB travel agencies. But if you're not from any of above, then you better get your tickets at Lawson convenience store when you're in Japan. Go here at Ghibli's Ticketing Information.

This is how a Loppi machine works.

Read this if you are buying tickets in Lawson convenience store
This is quite a funny experience for me. When I stepped in the store, I think I saw a couple of machines, I have no idea which one is the Loppi ticketing machine so I approached the counter dude for it. I mentioned the word 'Ghibli museum', and it took awhile for him to understand.

Then he exclaimed, "aaahhhh Jibuurri!" Aha, okay, so they pronounce it with 'J' instead of 'G'.

If you would like no assistance on purchasing the ticketing machine, please print the walkthrough instructions here. But then again, even with the printed instructions, I was left to wonder when stumbling upon the numerous menu in Loppi. In my opinion, it's best to get a Japanese person to help you out with this in case you mistyped your name in Japanese or worse, having to type the wrong information. It's an advantage to know your full name in Japanese 'Katakana' as they will need that for the registration. To translate your name in katakana, go to Kanjizone.

STEP 2: Travelling from Tokyo to Mitaka
You will need a few rounds of public transportation, depending where you are staying. It took me a good 2 hours for this, so you need to travel early!

From Ueno where I was staying, in summary;
1. A couple round of trains from Ueno to Mitaka
2. Reach Mitaka, find shuttle bus nearby the station
3. Arrive in Ghibli!

I LOVE google maps cos it will calculate everything according to your departure time, journey duration, traveling method (walk/train/bus) and even the cost it takes for you to travel.

The only problem with it is that it will translate the locations in Japanese. Maybe you need a round of Babelfish with that.

Let's say you're in a train station, just look for Mitaka stop. When you arrive in Mitaka, like everything that I will always do, look out for signage. I remember seeing 'Ghibli Museum' sign on top of the ceiling on my way out from the train. From here, you need to head to the shuttle bus stop which is outside the train station. Do ask around on the location of the bus stop.

You will see this yellow thingy smack right in the middle of a pavement. At first, I thought it's just a big pole, but when you look closer, it's actually a standalone ticketing machine.

You need to pay 300 yen return ticket for this. You'll get two tickets each (journey to and back)

Close up of the pasted paper

"Entrance to the Ghibli Museum is strictly by advance purchase of a reserved ticket which specifies the appointed date of the reservation.

Ticket can be purchased only at a designated local agencies outside Japan or at Lawson convenience stores in Japan.

For more details, please contact the Ghibli Museum directly or see our website"

OMG! Cute bus! I hope they make a Totoro bus soon!

Next is to wait for the bus. It will take a good 10-15 minutes of journey from the bus station to Ghibli Museum. Once you reached the museum, you will be directed to the reception area where they'll give you an Information map and a ticket for movie screening.

The cool negative film movie tickets!

Tap detail. Located in the outdoor cafe areas.

I love every details in Ghibli Museum. The spiral staircase, the English inspired interior, the colorful tiles, that surreal Gaudi-ish feel...Unfortunately, visitors are not allowed to take photographs or video when they are indoor, but you can do so while you're outdoor. I wish I have the time to sit down and sketch things out. So tips for artists: Bring a sketch book!

Does this couple cats reminds you of Grant Wood's American Gothic painting?

One needs to peel their eyes open as you often bump to some quirky hidden characters all around the compound. Also, the museum has a few movie screenings, so make sure to be alert on that.

With limited budget and time, I managed to get a vanilla ice cream for 380 yen, which is oh-so heavenly nice especially in hot weather.

If you have more time, do spend some time dining in here. When I was there, there was quite a queue for this. But I gotta tell you, its a well worth experience eating here in a green, luscious surrounding of the garden. The museum is located right in the heart of Inokashira park so not only you get one surreal, experience in Ghibli, but you can also get your whole family to enjoy a walk in a quiet, suburban park in Tokyo...away from all the hustle and bustle of Tokyo.

Ooh, and don't forget to splurge on Ghibli's souvenir shop

I bought Totoro plush toys and a few small characters keychains for give aways. Expensive, but well worth the price coming from the one and only Ghibli Museum Shop.

Best experience to date! I will very much visit the museum again next year, we'll see :)


  1. Hi, I just want to ask, how many days in advance did you have to buy your tickets from Lawson? I'm just worried that I cannot get my tickets for my trip :(


    1. Hi Daph, glad you've asked. I visited Ghibli a few weeks ago, for the second time. I cannot say how many days in advance for you because it depends on availability, but best to purchase (to be safe) 2 weeks before the desired date.

      I'd highly recommend buying via Bridge Japan at I've kept in touch/inquire via email and they helped a LOT!

      Anymore questions, feel free to reply here or tweet me at rozeboomerang

      I've just posted a review on TripAdvisor (under username viroze) at

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