Visiting the Ghibli Museum is not an easy feat. First you need a ticket and you can’t buy those at the museum, you have to buy them elsewhere and ahead of time, and they can sell out fast. Which is why it’s taken me this long to get there. Tickets are sold through very specific ways depending on your country of origin. For the USA you need to find a designated local travel agency and talk to them. And then when you go to Japan you need to take the physical copy of the ticket with you, no e-mail version or anything on your phone will do. You can look up information for your country and the hoops you have to jump through here.
For me, my friend went to Lawsons and got me a ticket as soon as ticket sales started. She’s been trying for nearly 3 years to get me a ticket and this is the first year it worked. These tickets should have your name on them and your designated entry time at the museum (Mine in the ticket above is 4:00pm). Make sure you have your passport with you. They will check that the name on the ticket matches your passport. The best way to get here is through Inokashira park after getting off at the Inokashirakoen station. The park is full of signs that point in the direction of the Ghibli museum which is at the edge of the park. You could also get off at Kichijoji station and take the bus which may be faster, however when I tried to get back to my friends house via Kichijoji station I found the station difficult to navigate.
The line has two parts to it. First you line up and then staff will check your ticket and passport before letting you in the line to enter the museum. This line will take you to the front desk where you exchange your ticket for a guide to the museum (it has a map) and a film strip which is your ticket to see an animated short only shown at the Ghibli Museum.
The museum is broken into 3 floors and a roof. On the first floor is “The Beginning of Movement” which has zoetropes and very interesting interactive pieces. (There is one that uses strobe light so keep that in mind.) The first floor is also where you can find the “Saturn Theater” where you can get your ticket stamped and catch the animated short. They have showings pretty often so you don’t have to worry about rushing to catch it unless it’s getting closer to when the museum closes. The short will be in Japanese but should be easy to follow despite that. The second floor is where the other exhibits are. “Where a Film is Born” can be found on this floor which can be a rather cramped exhibit as you look at the process of animators, their inspiration, and some beautiful watercolors and art. The third exhibition changes depending on the year, this year’s is called “Delicious! Animating Memorable Meals”. This exhibit will be up until May 2018 and has some pretty cool replicas. Note: during a section of this exhibit you will need to take off your shoes to walk through a traditional house replica. After May 2018 check out the Studio Ghibli website for their next exhibit.
No photos are allowed inside the museum, only outside. The third floor is where you can find a Cat bus for children to play in/on, the “Tri Hawks” reading room which is full of picture and kids books and the “Mamma Aiuto!” museum shop which tends to be crowded and with quite a long line. They offer a wide variety of things, including Museum only items.
The roof is probably one of my favorite spots in the museum. The roof is a garden guarded by the last solider robot from Laputa Castle in the Sky The giant robot is right next to the stairs that lead up to the roof. Unlike the rest of the museum this section can only be reached by a spiral staircase near the Cat Bus room. People tend to line up for a picture with the robot, so expect a line.
The Museum also has a Cafe Deck Area for snacks and the Straw Hat Cafe where they make treats you might recognize from the movies. They have English Menu’s available. I ordered the chocolate cake from Kiki’s Delivery Service.
It was a dense chocolate cake with nuts in it and fondant on top. It was a lot. I would’ve ordered food but I didn’t want to ruin my dinner and was grateful the cake wasn’t bigger. I felt a bit like Bruce Bogtrotter from Matilda, sitting at the bar in front of the staff eating nothing but this whole chocolate cake by myself. Thankfully it is a personal size cake so it’s not too big, it’s just very rich and dense and wasn’t my favorite thing. I suggest checking out the Straw Hat Cafe when you’re done with the museum and eating a light a meal there.
The Ghibli Museum is open from 10am until 6pm except for on Tuesdays when it’s closed. (Usually, there are a few Tuesdays that they are open.) The Straw Hats cafe is open for an additional hour until 7pm. Also available are lockers. Bathrooms and elevators can be accessed on all three floors. I suggest trying to get earlier in the day tickets then four o’clock so you’ll have time to enjoy the museum at your leisure. I was lucky and it wasn’t particularly crowded on the day I went so I was able to get through everything at a decent pace. I loved the exhibits but they do get crowded. But if you get a ticket definitely go and the enjoy the Ghibli magic.