In Tokyo’s western suburbs you’ll find the one-of-a-kind Ghibli Museum — a fantastic and whimsical museum dedicated to the legendary Studio Ghibli film studio (often considered “Japan’s Disney”).
Co-founded by director Hayao Miyazaki, Studio Ghibli is behind some of Japan’s — and the world’s! — most beloved animated films, such as “My Neighbor Totoro,” “Princess Mononoke,” “Spirited Away,” and “Ponyo.”
The wonderful Ghibli Museum attracts a huge number of visitors, and tickets are extremely limited. In this article we’ll go over ways you can get tickets, and other tips on visiting the Ghibli Museum.
Originally written in 2017, this post was updated on December 22, 2021.
About the Ghibli Museum
The name “Ghibli” is from the Italian word for a hot desert wind, and it was Hayao Miyazaki’s hope that Studio Ghibli would “blow a new wind through the anime industry.”
Miyazaki aimed to create worlds that were intricate and lush, and with so much attention to movement and detail that viewers might feel that these worlds could be real, no matter what sort of fantastical or amazing things happened in the course of the story.
The Ghibli Museum is dedicated to the studio’s work, as well as to illuminating the mechanics of the world of animation. Even though there are many references to the lovable films within the museum, you don’t have to be a Studio Ghibli fan to appreciate the amazing artistry on display, or be completely charmed by the exhibits!
Located on the edge of Tokyo’s Inokashira Park (more on how to get to the museum below), the Ghibli Museum is a multi-storied mansion full of twists and turns, tiny doors, winding staircases, and a rooftop garden — recreating the mood of the enchanting Studio Ghibli universe.
Ghibli Museum Exhibits
Photography isn’t allowed inside, which only adds to the excitement and mystery of the place. I won’t spoil it all for you, but there are quite a few things to look forward to.
The main exhibition hall demonstrates the magic of animation, with over-sized and intricate mechanical contraptions. Then there are smaller exhibition rooms throughout the building – some permanent, and others that change from year to year.
One permanent exhibition room recreates a Studio Ghibli art director’s studio to include the tiniest details, even down to real bowls of candy on the desk, and pots of gouache paint with paintbrushes used to paint the gorgeous backdrops of these lovable films.
The walls of this “studio” are covered in fine art, and Studio Ghibli is somewhat unique among animation studios in that they place important emphasis on the background, spending as much time developing the mood and details of the world the characters live in, as they spend developing the action elements in the foreground. There are several interesting scrapbooks on display, showing how the artists were inspired by nature, feats of engineering, and abstract art to create these mesmerizing films.
Another exhibit area features interactive, life-size recreations of popular film settings, such as the interior of the amazing flying ships of “Laputa” where you can explore the galley, opening drawers and cabinets to find them full of kitchen utensils and cooking ingredients.
Near the top of the museum, visitors have the chance to play with one of the most adored characters in the Studio Ghibli films: a giant plush catbus from “My Neighbor Totoro!” Please note that only children aged 12 and under can climb inside.
In addition to various exhibition rooms, back on the ground floor is a delightful miniature theater, which shows an animated short from the studio, created exclusively for the Ghibli Museum and only viewable here. The short movie plays several times each hour.
You may be pleasantly surprised that almost everywhere you turn at the museum, you’ll find English-speaking staff who are extremely versed in all things Studio Ghibli, so any question you might have can be easily answered. I spent a really enjoyable 20 minutes learning how the tone of a film is set, and how many animators it takes to produce a film like “Spirited Away,” one of my favorites.
How to Get Tickets to the Ghibli Museum
Excited to visit? Don’t forget, you’ll need to plan ahead to purchase your tickets, as they sell out in advance!
Getting tickets to the Ghibli Museum is no easy feat. Apart from the fact that tickets sell out ahead of time, the ticket-buying process is also not as simple as most travelers wish it were.
First, of course, you’ll need to decide when you’d like to visit. The official Ghibli Museum website typically lists its opening calendar. Note that there are usually closures around the New Year’s holidays, and irregularly throughout the year for exhibit changes. The museum is also typically closed on Tuesdays, and open from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm on other days.
Ghibli Museum Tickets via JTB
JTB is Japan’s largest travel agency, with offices throughout the world. The Ghibli Museum offers tickets through JTB’s global offices (to find your local office, visit JTB’s Ghibli home page).
JTB offers a limited number of tickets available for purchase approximately 3 months before your desired visit date. The tickets go on sale on the 1st of the month for the entire month 3 months later. So if you’d like to visit anytime in May (whether May 1st or May 31st), tickets would go on sale on February 1st for all of May.
Getting Ghibli Museum Tickets via Lawson Convenience Store
Lawson is one of a handful of ubiquitous conbini (convenience stores) in Japan. If you’re in Japan or have a friend in the country, you can purchase tickets at Lawson in person. For those of you outside of Japan, you can get Ghibli Museum tickets via Lawson’s online ticket platform.
Tickets go on sale at 10:00 am Japan Standard Time on the 10th of each month for the whole following month; in other words, on April 10th at 10:00 am Japan time for the entire month of May.
Ghibli Museum tickets sold via Lawson are for a specific day and time, and sell out very quickly (for example, weekend time slots usually begin selling out within the first few minutes). Also, due to the large number of people trying to purchase online, you may have to be really persistent and patient to get through.
Even though tickets are for specific timed entries (10:00 am, 12:00 pm, 2:00 pm, or 4:00 pm), once you’re in you can stay as long as you like until closing.
Other Ways to Get Ghibli Museum Tickets
If the idea of hovering over your computer at 10:00 am JST while frantically hitting refresh on your browser sounds less than ideal, keep in mind that there are other ways to get tickets to the Ghibli Museum.
One is to work with a company like ours that specializes in bespoke Japan trips. Any top-quality Japan travel company should be able to make the process seamless for you, from helping you decide when to visit, to handling the legwork of obtaining tickets for you.
Another option is to check major online travel agencies (such as Rakuten), which often offer Ghibli Museum tickets. They may charge a premium, but it is likely worthwhile for travelers who highly value convenience.
Finally, if you’re desperate to visit but regular tickets are sold out, consider joining a Ghibli Museum Tour. JTB and other large travel agencies occasionally offer group tours that include tickets to the Ghibli Museum. Even if you’re not typically the tour type, this can be a good backup method when all else fails.
How to Get to the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka
Once you have managed to purchase your tickets (congratulations!), getting to the museum is relatively painless. The museum’s address is:
1-1-83 Shimorenjaku, Mitaka-shi, Tokyo-to
Located on the edge of Tokyo’s Inokashira Park, the museum is equidistant from both Kichijoji Station and Mitaka Station. You can take the JR Chuo Line from the massive Shinjuku Station to either Kichijoji or Mitaka, or take the Keio Inokashira Line from Shibuya to Kichijoji.
If you love to walk, we recommend strolling from Kichijoji Station to the Ghibli Museum. Make sure to leave time before and/or after to explore Kichijoji itself. It’s a fun and energetic neighborhood full of interesting shops and great food and drink. Alternatively, there is a local bus from Mitaka to the Ghibli Museum, which runs roughly every 20 minutes from Mitaka Station’s south exit.
Once you arrive, be prepared to queue before entering. Museum staff will be checking tickets and passports while you wait.
Side Trips to Combine with Your Visit to the Ghibli Museum
Since you’ll be in this part of western Tokyo, you may as well make a day of it! There are plenty of great things to see and do in this part of the city, including:
- A stroll through Inokashira Park and Kichijoji for its great food and unique boutiques
- Nakano’s frenetic energy, and the Nakano Broadway shopping district
- Alternative youth culture in Koenji and Shimokitazawa, two neighborhoods overflowing with record shops, cafes, vintage stores.
Good luck getting tickets, and we hope you enjoy your visit to Tokyo’s Ghibli Museum!