One of the things that I wanted to do during this trip was to visit the Ghibli Museum, located at Mitaka, just outside of central Japan. Being a fan of Miyazaki’s animes, I was curious to see the animation and art museum which showcases his work.
I read that tickets to the museum – ¥1000 a piece for adults – are not sold at the museum, and have to be purchased in advance at the Lawson convenience shops in Tokyo. I bought ours at the Lawson store located just across the road from my hotel, with the help of the store’s staff, because I couldn’t make out the instructions on the ticket machine! To manage crowds, the museum has four designated entry times a day – 10 am, 12 pm, 2 pm and 4 pm. We chose the earliest time at 10am. You can find detailed instructions on the Lawson website here.
It was very convenient for us to get to Mitaka from our hotel in Shinjuku. We took a train on the JR Chuo Line from Shinjuku station directly to Mitaka station. I cannot remember how long was the ride between the two stations, but it was definitely no longer than an hour. From Mitaka Station, the Ghibli Museum shuttle bus (¥200 one way and ¥300 for a round trip) took us to the museum. Easy! Alternatively, you could take a slow walk from the train station to the museum, which is what we did on our way back.
^ A life-sized grinning Totoro greeting visitors at the main gate.
^ There was a long queue to get into the museum that day. And a bus-load of Taiwanese tourists came after us.
The museum comprises two floors – the first floor contains some exhibits and a small theatre which screens short movies produced by Studio Ghibli and the second floor houses special exhibitions. The museum also has a gift shop, an outdoor cafe and a roof-top garden.
The interior of the musem is whimsical and quaint, just like the drawings and colouring in a Miyazaki anime. While we oohed and aahed at how pretty the place was, we were actually quite disappointed to find out how small the museum is, and how little there is to see. I felt that it was just a big indoor playground for very young children.
We spent 30 minutes watching the short movie in the theatre – a cute story about a little boy and a whale in the sea. When we were there, the museum was exhibiting sketches, drawings and frames that were used in creating Spirited Away, Kiki’s Delivery Service and a couple of other animes. The exhibits filled all but two small rooms, and needed at most 30 minutes of viewing time. The rooftop garden is quite tiny too and could hardly accommodate more than a handful of people. Then we spent some time in the gift shop where yours sincerely bought herself soft-toys of Jiji, Totoro and Ponyo.
Having been inside the museum, I can totally appreciate why it is necessary to have visitors buy tickets in advance and have designated entry timings to limit the number of visitors at any one time…
Photography is prohibited inside the museum, so I could only photograph the rooftop garden and the outdoor cafe area.
^ After entering the museum, we exchanged our Lawson receipts for these entry tickets, which come in the form of a strip of film. So cool…!! If you raise the film against the light, you can see anime images on it.
^ Very attractive-looking cafe in bright yellow and fire-engine red.
^ The museum was invaded by school-going children and their mothers that day…
^ The cafe was full. You see patient moms queueing under the tent for their turn to enter the cafe. I thought it is very considerate on the part of the museum to provide chairs and a tent for the waiting mothers. We didn’t queue to go into the cafe, but bought ourselves a hot-dog at a snack bar outside the cafe.
^ The life-sized robot in Laputa on the rooftop garden of the museum!