Ghibli Museum, Tokyo

The world of Ghibli is just magical. Studio Ghibli creates incredible animations; it’s like Disney, but more in touch with nature and often a bit darker . . . and I love it! The Ghibli Museum has therefore been on my bucket list for a long time and there was no chance I was going to Tokyo and missing it.

No beating about the bush with this, tickets can be a bit of a nightmare to get hold of. You definitely have to plan it in advance as turning up on the day and hoping for the best is not an option (there are plenty of blogs that explain the different processes you can go through to get hold of them). Personally we missed the initial ticket release and ended up having to fork out a little more than we expected to . . . but when you’re going all that way anyway . . .

Ghibli Museum Sign

When you get a ticket you are given a time slot in which to arrive. Photography is not allowed within the museum. It’s a massive shame because there are so many wonderful photo opportunities e.g. I SAT IN THE CAT BUS!?! (Just is case you don’t know this is a character that features in ‘My Neighbour Totoro’, he’s both a cat and a bus, he’s got to be seen to be believed!). The reasoning that they give on the website for the no photography policy is that,

“The Ghibli Museum is a portal to a storybook world. As the main character in a story, we ask that you experience the Museum space with your own eyes and senses, instead of through a camera’s viewfinder. We ask that you make what you experienced in the Museum the special memory that you take home with you.”

So I entered the museum portal, eyes ready to absorb all the special memories. And it did not disappoint. It’s incredibly hard to explain the beautiful and thoughtful detail that has gone into the many little themed details; stained glass in the windows shaped like little soot balls, swirling colourful murals straight out of My Neighbour Totoro. But since the museum itself was designed by Master Animator Miyazaki Hayao, the man whose head all these brilliant stories come from and whose hands are talented enough to draw them so they can come to life, I really should have expected no less than perfection. You hand in standard external booking ticket and in return you are given a real Ghibli Museum ticket, which consists of two squares of film, which held up to the light you can see a beautiful tiny clip of one of their films.

The amazing thing about the museum is that many parts do not need interpretation. Since a picture can speak a thousand words the displays in the permanent exhibition room showing the ‘Beginning of Movement’ are such that they visually show how animation films are created. There’s a beautiful animation about a little water spider that falls in love, an original short film made exclusively for the museum . . . it has no words the animation alone tells the story which means that it is accessible to native and foreign speakers alike, children and adults.

Ghibli Museum Map

In the exhibition space that looks at ‘Where a Film is Born’ the rooms are set up as if the animators have just left. The walls decorated with hundreds of hand drawn pages from the many different Ghibli films. On the animators’ abandoned tables are overflowing ashtrays, pots of pencil stubs, lined up pots of colours. It’s beautiful, moving and the more you look the more you see.

Ghibli Museum Robot

Up on the roof top garden is one of the few photo opportunities; a lone Laputan robot, straight out of Castle in the Sky. It’s pretty moving and was beautiful against the blue spring sky.

Ghibli Museum Flag

So to summarise. I sat in a cat bus, watched a Ghibli animation I’d never seen before, saw beautiful original illustrations in real life and learnt the painstaking skill and detail that it takes to bring hand drawn animation to life. Basically my time as the main character in the Ghibli museum’s story was truly brilliant.


5 thoughts on “Ghibli Museum, Tokyo

    1. Again, I’ve added a bit more detail into my post. Catbus is a character that appears in ‘My Neighbour Totoro’. As his name suggests he is both a cat and a bus combined. I’d very much recommend that film, especially if you’re a Miyazaki or Studio Ghibli fan. It came out in 1988, but it really is a timeless classic 🙂


  1. Thank you. I have a number of Miyazaki films in my video collection (Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, etc), but I guess I should get Totoro, too. 😉


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