One of the many attractions that we had waiting for us in Japan was the Ghibli Museum (三鷹の森ジブリ美術館 Mitaka no Mori Jiburi Bijutsukan – Mitaka Forest Ghibli Museum). This sprawling and maze-like museum features the Japanese anime work of Studio Ghibli, and is located snugly in Inokashira Park in Mitaka, a suburb that lies in western Tokyo.The inside of the museum is an amazing maze of twisting walkways and tiny stair-cases, alcoves and hidey-holes – a real amazing treasure to behold. In fact, the museum itself is a work of art!
If you don’t know what Studio Ghibli is, let me ask you one simple question: Have you been living under a rock? Like, a big rock. With spikes. And a tiny little hole for breathing? If you have, then you are duly excused. If you haven’t think the makers of My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away.
Unfortunately, there is strictly no photography allowed inside the museum – so all the photos here will be of the outside grounds, the Straw Hat Café and the roof-top garden. For more shots of the inside, the amazing Central Hall, Permanent Exhibition Room, the Saturn Theatre and the Cat Bus Room (eee) – take a look at these!
On the museum’s roof there is a garden with a 5-metre-tall statue of a robot from the final episode of Lupin III Part II and Castle in the Sky. The Robot Soldier was made by an artist by the name of Kunio Shachimaru. The statue is made from bronze and took a year to create.
The keystone from the movie “Castle in the Sky” can also be found on the roof-top garden that overlooks Inokashira Park. To reach this section, you have to squeeze through a narrow path that is barely visible behind masses of shrubbery.
The spiral staircase that leads to the roof-top garden! It was particularly windy when we went – and it’s not really made for people bigger than 6ft tall – you have been warned!
Looking down from the roof-top garden.
We wanted to have a small snack at the actual Straw Hat Café, but the line was massive and was moving far too slow – besides, we had visited at a strange hour (and had just come back from Kyoto via Shinkansen, so we were also a little disorientated)! So, alternatively, we decided to try our luck out at the hot-dog stand – ended up getting a beer, the hearty chicken vegetable soup and a hot dog.
Kaze no Tani Beer – the organic brew’s name references the film and manga series Nausicaä of The Valley of the Wind (Kaze no Tani no Nausicaä) produced by Miyazaki – and tastes as good as it looks!Even the wash-up taps are adorable!
Ack! :O SO MANY ススワタリ
Looking up into the wispy tree-branches as the sun sets on Tokyo.
I also managed to score myself a little Totoro plushie from the Mamma Aiuto Giftshop. This giftshop is packed with score of amazing things that would be near impossible to obtain outside of Japan. It’s located on the top of the Ghibli Museum and is named after the band of sky pirates in the movie “Porco Rosso”. PS. Nan managed to get himself a make-it-yourself (think Gundam-stylee) model Robot Soldier. He still hasn’t made it be he assures me that he will. Soon.
The museum requires tickets be purchased in advance for a specific day, either from travel agencies outside Japan or Lawson convenience store ticket kiosks in Japan. For us foreigners, it’s easier to purchase the tickets in advance – as we did, by following the instructions given to us by the very helpful official website.
When you arrive, they trade your “print-out” for a wonderful “film still” ticket! These are actual 35mm film prints that are used in theatres!
The museum’s hours of operation are from 10:00 am until 6:00 pm. For tickets purchased within Japan, four entrance times to choose from while purchasing tickets, 10:00 am, 12:00 pm, 2:00 pm, and 4:00 pm. Each entrance time allows up to 30 minutes for visitors to arrive before their ticket become invalid. Tickets purchased from agents outside Japan are valid any time on the booked day.
The museum is a 15 minute walk from Mitaka Station. Alternatively, there is also a community bus that goes from Mitaka Station to the museum every 10 minutes – and is adorably themed to suit the Ghibli “feel”. From Shinjuku Station in Central Tokyo it takes approximately 20 minutes to Mitaka Station on the JR Chūō Main Line.