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 called “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!
About the Ghibli Museum
The name “Ghibli” is from the Italian word for a hot desert wind (ghibli), 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.
But before you get too excited, you’ll need to plan ahead to purchase your tickets as they sell out well in advance – we go over this in more detail below!
Visiting the Ghibli Museum
Once you have your tickets and arrive, be prepared to wait in a bit of a line before entering. Museum staff will be checking tickets and passports while you wait.
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.
Ghibli Museum Exhibits
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.
Even though most tickets are for specific timed entries (typically 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).
Make sure to arrive on time, and plan to allot at least 2 to 3 hours to enjoy the exhibition halls, view the short animated film, and explore the gift shop on the top floor.
Getting Tickets to the Ghibli Museum
Getting tickets to the Ghibli Museum is no small feat.
Apart from the fact that tickets sell out well in advance, the ticket-buying process is also not as simple as most travelers wish it were!
So the first thing to do is determine when you want to visit. Make sure to check the Ghibli Museum calendar for closures (which happen at year-end, and irregularly throughout the year for exhibit changes). The museum is usually closed on Tuesdays, and open from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm on other days.
Tickets typically go on sale one or two months in advance, but some methods allow you to get tickets even sooner. No matter which method you pursue, keep in mind that tickets sell out very soon after going on sale!
Below are some of the best ways to get tickets to the Ghibli Museum (please note that some of these details may change from time to time).
Getting your Ghibli Museum tickets via Lawson
Lawson is one of Japan’s most ubiquitous conbini (convenience stores).
In Japan, convenience stores are extremely convenient, and most offer a wider array of services (and foods!) than we might be accustomed to outside of Japan.
Lawson allows you to purchase tickets in person, or via their online ticket platform if you’re outside of Japan.
Tickets go on sale on the 10th of each month (at 10:00 am Japan Standard Time) for the following month. So if, for example, you are planning to visit sometime in July (i.e., between July 1st and the 31st), tickets would be available on June 10th.
Tickets go on sale at exactly 10:00 am JST, and sell out very quickly! The tickets sold via Lawson’s online system are for a specific day and time, and weekend time slots usually begin selling out within the first few minutes.
Note: For the summer months of July and August, the museum opens a “lottery application period” ahead of the usual ticket buying window, with winners announced the day before the ticket window officially opens. At present, the lottery application website is only available in Japanese.
Also, due to the huge number of people trying to purchase online, you may have to be really persistent and patient to get through.
If you purchase through Lawson, you’ll pay online and your ticket vouchers will be emailed to you.
As for all of the methods, make sure to follow all instructions closely to ensure you are granted entry!
Getting your Ghibli Museum tickets from GoVoyagin
If waiting by your computer at 10:00 am JST while frantically hitting refresh on your browser sounds less than ideal — and you’re willing to pay a bit more for convenience — GoVoyagin is a great option.
GoVoyagin is a website offering a huge variety of travel services, including tickets to the Ghibli Museum.
The convenience fee is 5,000 JPY at last check, and tickets must be ordered by the 8th of the month before your desired visit. Tickets are for a specified date and time slot, as with Lawson above.
Even though this method may be more convenient, it’s not guaranteed. A GoVoyagin representative will be purchasing tickets when they go on sale to the public, so your request doesn’t automatically guarantee you tickets. You can, however, request multiple dates and times to increase your chances.
Tickets purchased through GoVoyagin can be delivered to a Japanese hotel, but not to a guesthouse, hostel, or private residence. If you won’t be staying at a hotel, you’ll have to pick up your vouchers from their Shibuya office.
Getting your Ghibli Museum tickets from JTB
The Japan Tourism Board (commonly known as JTB) is a huge Japanese travel agency, with offices throughout the world.
Getting tickets through JTB can be a great option because they begin offering tickets earlier than the above methods. You will pay a small convenience fee (and a delivery fee), but overall it can be a great option.
Ticket requests can only be made three months in advance (on the first day of the month). For example, an entrance date request for May 25th can only be made from February 1st. As with the other methods, tickets sell out very quickly!
Along with the ticket-purchase window opening sooner, another benefit of JTB tickets is that they are not tied to a specific time, so you can enter at any time on the specified date.
Joining a Tour that includes Tickets to the Ghibli Museum
In case you are not able to get tickets via another method, one other option is to see if you can join a group tour that includes the Ghibli Museum (various companies, including JTB, offer tours like this).
Most people seeking tickets fail to consider this option, which may be to your benefit!
Of course, these tours can also sell out — and they cost a bit more, since they include a guide and transport — but it’s worth considering!
How to Get to the Ghibli Museum
Once you have managed to purchase your tickets (congratulations!), getting to the museum is relatively painless.
The museum’s address is:
Ghibli Museum, Mitaka
1-1-83 Simorenjaku, Mitaka-shi
On the edge of Tokyo’s Inokashira Park, the museum is equidistant from both Kichijoji Station and Mitaka Station.
While there is a shuttle bus available from Mitaka Station, we usually recommend getting off at Kichijoji Station instead. If you opt for the Ghibli shuttle bus, it runs roughly every 10 minutes from Mitaka Station’s south exit.
If you’re up for a walk instead, head to Kichijoji – and allot time to explore Kichijoji itself either before or after your visit to the museum. It’s a fun and energetic neighborhood full of interesting shops and great food and drink.
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 (stop for a crepe and coffee at the adorable Café du Lièvre)
- Enjoy Kichijoji’s great food and unique boutiques
- Immerse yourself in Nakano’s frenetic energy, and the Nakano Broadway shopping district
- Soak up alternative youth culture in Koenji and Shimokitazawa, two neighborhoods overflowing with record shops, cafes, vintage stores
If you made it this far, I sincerely hope all of this information helps you plan your visit to the Ghibli Museum!