06 Aug Studio Ghibli Museum – our family visit
I was first introduced to Studio Ghibli in high school when we watched Spirited away. I’ve since watched many more and our toddler son had watched My Neighbour Totoro. Despite a meltdown at the Cat bus (read below) we really enjoyed visiting The Ghibli Museum.
Getting Studio Ghibli Museum tickets
In Japan Studio Ghibli Museum tickets can be purchased from automatic machines in Lawson convenience stores. They go on sale on the 10th of each month for the following months dates. As we would only be in Tokyo just before wanting to visit the museum this wasn’t an option for us as they would most likely be sold out.
A selected number of Studio Ghibli Museum tickets are available to purchase internationally through JTB. We purchased ours online with JTB Australia. The ticket price is somewhat inflated and includes added charges of service fees and postage cost. Tickets go on sale four months in advance, at the start of the first month. I ordered ours as soon as they were available. We were given a voucher to hand over on the day of our visit.
How to get to Studio Ghibli Museum
Studio Ghibli Museum is located in Mitaka, Tokyo. We were able to get a direct train from Yoyogi station to Mitaka station. It is a 24 minute ride and we got on a train at about 9am. Once at Mitaka station, we followed signs to the exit and began walking towards Inokashira park (the museum is within the park). Shuttle buses are available to take you from Mitaka Station to the museum. We decided to walk the 1.4 km and enjoyed the scenery. Along the way were signposts stating how many metres to reach the Ghibli Museum.
Entering Ghibli Museum
With our voucher we had to choose the day but could go at any time. I thought it would be best to go when the Ghibli Museum opened at 10am. We reached the entrance about ten minutes to ten o’clock and after looking at the large Totoro and soot sprites at the ‘pretend’ ticket booth, we joined the back of the line. While waiting in line, a staff member came to check our ticket. Right on 10 o’clock someone rang a bell and the large stain-glass doors opened. We exchanged our voucher for a ticket which are in the form of a film strip and make a wonderful souvenir. Inside, we left our stroller in the designated area.
Studio Ghibli Museum short films
After entering we headed straight for the theatre room to watch the Ghibli short film. The theatre room’s ceiling is painted as a sky with a sun and a moon and the walls feature painted flowers. Looking at all of this kept Fletcher entertained while waiting for everyone to take their seats and the film to start. It had minimal dialogue so there was no problem with understanding it. It was a great animation and the three of us really enjoyed it.
Areas of Ghibli Museum
We made our way around each room of the museum. One room had a great display of 3D characters from “My Neighbour Totoro”. There were several figurines spread around a rotating plate, when a strobe light flashed, the figurines appeared to jump and move around. There were several other great displays, they were a little hard to get to as the room was very crowded. Upstairs showed what Hayao Miyazaki’s creative spaces might look like with many sketches placed around on the walls. There is a room for Studio Ghibli Museum exhibitions, which change over time, during our visit it was based on The Nutcracker. I was a little disappointed it wasn’t Studio Ghibli related. You can check the special exhibitions on Ghibli Museums official website.
Studio Ghibli Museum Cat Bus and toddler meltdown
In an upstairs room, a life-size furry Cat Bus can be played on by children under twelve years old. Fletcher wanted a turn but he was getting tired at this stage after walking around viewing the museum. Small groups of children are allowed in at a time. Staff were sectioning off groups within the queue. I put Fletcher at the back of the line and stood next to him. He wasn’t keen on standing in line by himself so I picked him up and a staff member indicated that it was fine for me to do so and made a point that he was part of that sectioned off group.
There were one or two groups in front of Fletcher’s and he wasn’t keen on waiting his turn, not understanding why he couldn’t go and play like the other kids. I said he would get to go and play on the cat bus but he had to wait for his turn. He soon got completely over it and started crying. I wasn’t sure whether to wait it out or give up our place and have him miss out on getting to go in the Cat bus. It was clear he was just too tired, so we left and went outside in the hopes he would calm down. He didn’t. He was worn out and now beyond any reasoning. We went back downstairs, got our stroller and cut short our visit of the museum.
Studio Ghibli Museum shop and cafe
We had to leave the Museum with our cranky toddler and while I’m glad we got to see all the exhibitions, we did miss out on seeing both the shop and the cafe, which has cute Studio Ghibli themed items. I did buy things later from a genuine Studio Ghibli Museum merchandise store in Tokyo Station.
We strapped Fletcher in the stroller and set out to walk around Inokashira park. Despite being a tired wreck, Fletcher was refusing to sleep. After saying he wanted food, I gave him a banana and we kept on walking. He settled down and soon spotted a playground. Feeling bad that he didn’t get a go on the cat bus, we let him out for a play, at least he would burn any left over energy and then be ready for a sleep. After several times climbing up steps and going down a slide, we called time and back in the stroller he went.
Inokashira park wasn’t the nice strolling area I had envisioned before our visit, I was unaware that the park’s pond had been completely drained and several of the grounds around were off-limits due to restoration works. Unfortunately I think we visited at a bad time, I’ve since seen photos of the lake with swan boats on it.
With Fletcher asleep we decided to walk around the Kichijoji area. We had no sense of direction so entered Kichijoji station into Google Maps and walked towards it. Fletcher stayed asleep for close to two hours. While he slept we walked down many streets and bought a ‘melon pan’ bun to eat and walked some more. When he woke up, Fletcher’s mood was not much better so we decided to just have lunch at McDonald’s. I ordered a kids set meal for myself as well because they came with cool bullet train toys. Japan McDonald’s offer kids meals with a cup of hot corn as a side, so I felt a little healthier.