Fans of Japanese animations would definitely know about Studio Ghibli as they are the creators of some famous animations like My neighbour Totoro and Spirited Away. The museum is extremely popular with locals and tourist and getting a ticket to the museum is no easy feat as tickets run out as soon as they are posted online. You can purchase your tickets from JTB, Lawson Online as well as some local Japanese agency. You can buy your tickets 1 month in advance for Lawson and 2 months in advance with JTB
The museum opens from 10 am but visitors start to queue up as early as 9.30 am
We were able to park our car at the public carpark at the park which is just next to the museum. The queue was already well beyond the entrance at 9.45 am
The building itself is very vivid in colours and the structure looks like they fit very well in the animation pictures. Studio Ghibli director Hayao Miyazaki designed the museum himself, using storyboards similar to the ones he creates for his films. The design was influenced by European architecture such as the hilltop village of Calcata in Italy. The museum is dedicated to the art of animation
This is the main entrance of the museum and if you are wondering why the lady has this signal; yes the museum does not allow any photography inside. The owner described the museum as a portal to the story telling world and would like visitors to experience the magic with their own eyes and ears.
After registering at the main entrance, each visitor is given a map and a theatre ticket. I managed to sneak a picture without revealing too much. The ticket itself is like small film strip and every ticket is different so this is a nice souvenir to bring home. The theatre itself will show you a short 20 mins animation film but it is all in Japanese but is quite easily understood.
You can also access the roof top via this sweet metal spiral staircase which is something you can imagine from the Ghibli films.
Photos are allowed once you are outdoor so you can take as many pictures as you like on the rooftop which has this giant robot structure as well as some flowers and a small pond. The rooftop is pretty small so you probably will not spend too much time here.
Showing a limited view of the building inside so as not to spoil the fun, there are multiple spiral staircases inside the building and there is a total of 3 floors. The first floor has the theatre as well as an exhibit room showing the history and science of animation with many interesting moving and working exhibits. One of the highlight is a three-dimensional zoetrope named “Bouncing Totoro”, with models of characters from My Neighbor Totoro. This was so beautiful, it was a pity I could not take a video for my own enjoyment.
On the 2nd storey is a mock up of an animation studio and there are 5 rooms which is dressed up with books, rough sketches of the artist as well as finished works of the films. There is also an exhibit that shows the process of film making from sketches, storyboarding, keyframing, cleanup, coloring to background painting.
The last floor is the access to the roof top, a small child playground, a small library with books as well as the souvenir shop which has the most people at any time. There are so many cute items in the shop that you cannot resist getting something to bring home to remember this magical time
The exit is just after the souvenir shop and has a staircase that leads all the way back down to the first floor where you exit to the outside. There is a still a small garden with some nice veranda where you can take some pictures. From this little garden, you can go up one floor and there is a small café that sells beverages and snacks like hot dogs.
Overall, there are many interesting exhibits within the museum and for animation lovers, this is like Disney to them. It is very fun to see how a film is made from sketches to the final product and it is back to childhood when you spend time inside the building which is out of a story book
Address: 1 Chome-1-83 Shimorenjaku, Mitaka, Tokyo 181-0013, Japan
Operating hours: 10 am to 6 pm ( Closed on Tuesday)