Whether you have seen only one of the films or you’re an avid lover of Hayao Miyazaki’s works among others, the Studio Ghibli Museum located in Tokyo, Japan, is not to be missed. A museum like no other, it encapsulates a real child-like feeling of wonderment with huge scenes depicting castles and cities from films such as ‘Kiki’s Delivery Service’ and ‘Howls’ Moving Castle’. Step into the world of Ghibli and straight away you see a gentle moss covered building with large glass windows, portholes and hatches that you’ll see as you wander through the museum.
With your ticket you will receive a free cinema ticket to one of the six short films that play on a random rotation throughout the year in the museum’s own mini-cinema. Not available on DVD or to watch outside of the museum, the films last around 15 minutes and are only in Japanese with no subtitles but are still a joy to see.
Upon first entering the museum what you will immediately notice is that it is not laid out like normal museums. Normal museums are full of long hallways with exhibitions on clear display with a few ‘interactive’ pieces here and there. Miyazaki states that he wanted the Ghibli Museum to feel like a magical place and in fact the tagline of the museum is ‘Let’s get lost together’.
The museum is set out over three floors with a huge hallway in the centre of the museum connecting the floors. Spiral staircases lead to the first and sometimes the second floor and in archways you’ll see more staircases leading to different levels. An elevator passes between two of the floors and you’ll see a walkway connecting two balconies together on the first floor. Artwork adorns the walls and windows and you’ll see children and adults alike running around, ducking under archways and pointing in awe at the various works on display.
As you walk through the museum you can see the various works that inspired Miyazaki to make some of the great Ghibli films as well as early artwork and storyboards in the art room. On the second floor, if you have young children, you can supervise them while they play in the giant plush Catbus corner among piles of dust bunnies. Unfortunately this is only for younger kids!
The animation room is full of different animation styles and techniques including stop motion, puppets, hand drawn cells and the use of clay figures to give depth to an animation.
Take a step outside into the quiet garden world of Arrietty, and if you decide to have a look on the roof you can shake hands with and even take photos of yourself with a giant, full scale robot statue from Laputa; Castle in the Sky.
If you’re tuckered out from running around the various rooms and hallways, the Ghibli Museum has its own tea house with sandwiches and hot and cold drinks available.
Sit on one of the terrace benches or find a place inside for a little break! After having lunch make sure to check out the souvenir shop where you can buy the Studio Ghibli DVD’s as well as artbooks, stationary, plush creatures, glass sculptures, sweets and more. Careful though, it can get quite expensive!
The Studio Ghibli museum can be found by hired car or by taking the Ghibli Bus which can be caught at the JR Mitaka Station which can be easily reached from Shinjuku Station and is completely unmissable!
Unfortunately you are not allowed to take photos inside the main museum part, perhaps to maintain the mystery behind the museum, But you can buy books within the museum that contain photos of the museum as well as visual designs for the museum too!