Today we visited the Studio Ghibli Museum, located within Mitaka Inokashira Park in Tokyo.
It was an excellent day and one of the highlights of the trip so far. It’s quite easy to find tickets and locate, with the right advice.
How do I buy tickets?
For residents of the U.K., buying tickets might seem tricky but is fairly straightforward. There’s only one place to buy them from, a company called The Japan Specialist.
To order them, you do need to be vigilant on the release dates and not forget to logon as soon as possible on the sale date.
The general rule is that tickets go on sale on the 1st of the month for dates three months in advance. So, if you want to buy tickets for any date in September 2016, you need to login on 1st June 2016. At any one time tickets are available for four consecutive months, though they are usually completely sold out about six weeks in advance.
The tickets will be sent out to your home address immediately and you will need to make sure you remember to take your tickets on the day as no re-issues are available.
How much is it?
£12 per person.
How do I get there?
The best way to get to Mitaka is by train. There are no parking facilities there.
The best train to get is the JR Chuo Line, which is covered by your Japan Rail Pass (if you have one) and is relatively cheap without one at less than £2 each way.
Then, once you get there, take the south exit from the station and walk about 1.5km. It’s a nice stroll and is well sign-posted so is difficult to miss.
What makes it so special?
The Ghibli Museum was designed and curated by legendary animator Hayao Miyazaki and his magic is felt throughout. There’s a replica of the Catbus for children to play in, a wonderful rooftop terrace garden to relax in, a permanent exhibition of the science of animation and a yearly temporary exhibition.
Another draw for Ghibli is fans is the opportunity to watch an exclusive Ghibli-produced short film in The Saturn Theatre. There are nine on offer and they are shown at random. You only get to see one film per ticket, making it difficult to see every single film unless you visit at least nine times.
The film we saw on our day is Yadosagashi (Looking For A Home), which I reviewed here.
The permanent exhibitions at the museum are absolutely stunning and well worth the trip out for fans of Studio Ghibli. The ground floor features several contraptions that provide an insight into the science and technology behind animation.
The most impressive item in the exhibition was a three-dimensional zoetrope called ‘Bouncing Totoro’, which is essentially a large rotating circular platform with around 200 small models that when viewed gives the impression of a short animated scene of characters from My Neighbour Totoro skipping and a running Catbus. Truly inspiring.
On the first floor there is a replica of an artists’ studio featuring 100s of sketches by Hayao Miyazaki and takes you through a journey from initial concepts to final production.
Special Exhibition – The Haunted Tower: Perfect Popular Culture
The current exhibition is called The Haunted Tower and has been curated by Hayao Miyazaki.
It is a small exhibition based on Rampo Edogawa’s 1937 novel ‘The Haunted Tower’, a book that Hayao Miyazaki used as inspiration for his directorial debut ‘The Castle of Cagliostro’. It is laid out like a comic strip with the panels hand drawn by Miyazaki himself. There’s also a central labyrinth for children to get lost in.
One of the best features was a large diorama based on ‘The Castle of Cagliostro’, which was an impressive piece of art.
Does not speaking English hinder the experience?
Without a doubt there are things at the museum that can only be enjoyed fully with a complete grasp of the Japanese language. The temporary exhibition was almost impossible to understand, but it didn’t mean that it wasn’t highly enjoyable.
If you are going to the Ghibli Museum then chances are you are a huge fan of the Studio Ghibli films, or at least animation in general. Like the films they have produced, the experience is very visual. Any fan would love this experience no matter what language they speak.