Have you ever wondered why Studio Ghibli museum is always a must-see spot in Tokyo? Are you familiar with Spirited Away? How about Princess Mononoke?
Those two and four other Studio Ghibli films are on the top 15 highest-grossing anime films in Japan.
With Spirited Away being the second-best animated film with a worldwide gross of $331 million. It even surpassed Titanic as the highest-grossing film in Japan.
And the person behind these films is Hayao Miyazaki. The person who also designed the museum himself.
How much is a Ghibli Museum ticket?
The ticket price for the Ghibli Museum is only ¥1,000 (or about US$9) each and must be purchased in advance. Tickets go on sale every 10th of the month at 10 a.m. Japan time and will sell out quickly within an hour!
If the ¥1,000 ticket is sold out, you can get a last-minute ticket or a next-day ticket from an authorized travel agency in Japan.
Why visit: Is it really worth it?
If you managed to grab the ¥1,000 ticket then the short answer is: YES, it’s absolutely worth it! And even if you’re not a fan or haven’t seen any of his films, it’s very worth it! Two things the museum will do to you:
- It will ignite your curiosity in the concept and creation of animation. And,
- It will immerse you in the worlds Studio Ghibli had created — cute and creepy.
But tickets are so damn hard to get if you didn’t book in advance. Studio Ghibli films and Hayao Miyazaki are beloved in Japan. So, getting tickets to the museum is absolutely a battle with the locals and with the residents of Mitaka, where the museum is located.
That fact alone tells you just how remarkably popular the museum is. If you’re too late, prepare to pay more money!
But no worries, we’re going to show you how to buy tickets to the museum in advance and how to buy one if its sold-out everywhere.
7 Ways to Buy Ghibli Museum Tickets
1. Lawson’s website.
While this is the original way and the CHEAPEST way to buy tickets to the Ghibli Museum for ¥1,000, it’s also the most TROUBLESOME due to the website being unreliably SLOW on the sale date.
Entry tickets for next month go on sale at 10 a.m. (Japan time) on the 10th of the current month. In other words, if you want tickets for January, you need to buy them on December 10th.
You need to be on your computer at EXACTLY 10 a.m. and be quick to book those tickets. This is a challenge if you live in a different timezone.
What you need during the booking process:
- Credit card: They only accept credit cards as a payment method.
- Intended address in Japan: This could be your hotel address.
- 4-character password: You MUST write this down (to avoid forgetting) to log in to print your tickets.
- Passport number.
- Phone number and email.
The website says you can buy up to 6 tickets in one booking occasion but I’ve NEVER seen this work because the website is VERY slow and always having issues.
The 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. admission times sell out VERY quickly. By noon that day, tickets on the website were all sold out!Ada Wilkinson
And this is a warning for visitors traveling with their families…
Now, if you’ve booked successfully, a confirmation will be sent to your email. Inside that email is the link to login to Lawson’s website.
Enter the email address, the exact phone number, and the 4-character password you entered during the booking process. Upon logging in, you will be redirected to a screen with your ticket that has a barcode.
You must print this ticket. The staff will scan it at the museum entrance and your ticket will be EXCHANGED for an official ticket.
The official ticket has a real 35mm film print framers from Studio Ghibli films that were used in theaters.
2. Lawson’s Loppi Machine.
If you’re already in Japan (i.e. living in Japan or staying long-term), this is another recommended option. Lawson is a convenience store that you can find on nearly every corner of Japan.
There are some Lawson stores that don’t have Loppi Machines. Usually, these are special Lawson stores like Natural Lawson (maroon exterior) and Lawson 100 (green exterior). So you need to find a regular Lawson store, which has a blue exterior.
You can buy tickets from Loppi Machine anytime but the earliest dates that will be available to you are for the month after (i.e. tickets for May will be available on Loppi Machines in April).
Now, if you missed the sale date on Lawson’s website, then Voyagin is to the rescue. If you haven’t heard of Voyagin, they’re very popular in Japan and a subsidiary of Rakuten.
Voyagin is the only authorized travel agency that sells last-minute tickets and allows you to pre-order your tickets to the Ghibli museum 1-2 months before you visit.
Voyagin has three ticketing options:
Last Minute Tickets: Choose this option if ordering tickets after the preorder deadline. We request that you include up to 3 alternative date/time slots for your visit when placing your booking so that we can quickly secure your tickets.
Ghibli Ticket Guarantee: Choose this option before the preorder deadline to have one of our Ticket Concierges personally handle your order as a top priority, virtually ensuring your tickets. Only 10 orders per month, not available on weekends.Voyagin's Studio Ghibli Museum Ticketing Terms
Their “Preorder Ticket” option is particularly helpful if you live in a different timezone or are unable to book the tickets during the sale date on Lawson’s website.
Even more, discount if you use Voyagin’s coupon codes:
|Voyagin's End of Year Sale Coupon Codes!|
|Coupon is valid until January 6, 2020|
|YEAREND10||US$10 OFF of US$150 minimum spend|
|YEAREND25||US$25 OFF of US$300 minimum spend|
|YEAREND40||US$40 OFF of US$450 minimum spend|
4. GetYourGuide or Veltra.
Before you think it’s expensive, it’s a GUARANTEED way to experience the Studio Ghibli Museum on the day you want to visit it, and if you’re lucky, they can even release a next-day option whenever available.
This is a packaged tour that happens to visit the Ghibli museum and it includes:
- Bus transportation with an English-speaking tour guide.
- Lunch buffet at Hotel Gajoen in Tokyo.
- A side tour of Edo Tokyo Open Air Museum (or Jindai-ji Temple or Takahata Fudoson Temple if visiting on a Monday).
- Followed by a visit to the Ghibli Museum.
If you think about, this package is a very good deal! The tour guide though will not go with you to the Ghibli Museum. So you are free to explore the museum by yourself.
Reviews from tourists who have availed this package swear by being a unique way to experience Tokyo with Ghibli Museum as a side trip.
She gave a lot of info about what we would see at the museum and gave us a suggested itinerary since we had a limited amount of time. She also made sure everyone knew how to catch the bus to the train station, how much it cost, and how to get all the way back to Shinjuku station.
She also toured us around the outside of the museum as well as gave us direction on where we could take pics and where it was prohibited. The staff at Ghibli was amazing as well!
After reporting a lost jacket, the staff took less than ten minutes to locate it and return it to us. This is definitely a worthwhile tour.Idahomom
5. A local JTB Office.
JTB is the largest travel agency in Japan. And they have offices in over 35 countries. But not all of them sell tickets to the Studio Ghibli Museum.
People in the following countries are in luck: Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, USA, Canada, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Australia, and New Zealand. As JTB in these countries sells tickets to the Studio Ghibli museum. All you have to do is visit your country’s respective JTB website through this link.
An important reminder though:
- JTB releases ONLY 200 tickets per day for all overseas offices. This means that they too sell out quite quickly.
- Tickets must be purchased every 1st of the month up to 3 months prior to your Ghibli Museum visit (i.e. Tickets for March go on sale on December 1st).
All you have to do is visit the website of your respective JTB office to book. If you’re living in a country not listed, check if there’s a JTB in your country by typing this keyword on Google: JTB [your country] Ghibli Museum ticket. Without brackets.
If you are getting negative results, you just have to stick with booking your ticket through Lawson’s website or other options mentioned above.
6. Ask your Hotel Concierge to book you the tickets.
If you’re staying at a hotel (sorry Airbnb users), contact your hotel concierge and ask if they can buy your tickets in advance and they will usually buy it for you. Many hotels in Japan have done this favor for their customers while they have not arrived in Japan yet.
They get the tickets from a Lawson Loppi Machine. But they’ll charge a 10-20% fee for the service. It’s still cheaper than buying tickets last-minute.
7. Ask a friend who lives in Japan.
If you have a friend who lives in Japan, ask that friend to buy the Studio Ghibli ticket for you from Loppi Machine. The ticket price is only 1,000 yen, which is the original price of the Studio Ghibli Museum ticket.
I have done this as a favor for a friend who was visiting Japan. I bought the ticket a month before his visit. All I needed was his full name and his desired date and time of visit.
Our Ghibli Museum Experience On Each Floor
There isn’t a recommended path to exploring the museum. You do it self-paced which also correlates to Ghibli Museum’s motto:
“Let’s Lose Our Way, Together.”
The aim of Hayao Miyazaki was to make the building itself an exhibit. And for the whole museum to make you feel like a kid again.
The museum is built to resemble a hobbit house made from reinforced soil. There are spiral staircases both inside and out, long balconies, and archways which lead to exhibits.
But occasionally, a few dead ends. And that’s part of the charm because it gives you a feeling of exploration.
Miyazaki’s vision for his movies has always been to immerse his audience in the worlds he creates. And that vision has clearly been recreated in the museum.
First Floor: Permanent Exhibit Room
The first floor was where the Permanent Exhibit Room, themed: “The Beginning of Movement”.
The room exhibits the science and history of animation and works not just by Hayao Miyazaki’s but also by other animators.
If there’s one thing Ghibli museum can do to improve, it would be to make the English language available to discuss everything.
The Bouncing Totoro 3D zoetrope in this exhibit is without a doubt the highlight of this room. It was the first time we’ve seen such a motion display.
It is a sequence of 347 still figures of “My Neighbor Totoro” characters. And creates an illusion of motion along with the rapid flashing LED lights when rotated.
I was particularly impressed by Mei and Satsuki’s character where the movements were really smooth. It seemed to be crafted perfectly frame by frame.
No wonder why the creators of this 3D zoetrope took them almost a year to finish. We kept coming back for this many times.
And could stare at it for hours which is Miyazaki’s main goal, on why he personally requested this zoetrope created:
To have every visitor stop and be mesmerized. However, if you are sensitive to light or epileptic, you should stay out of Bouncing Totoro 3D zoetrope.
Second Floor: Special Exhibit Room
The second floor has two exhibit rooms.
First Exhibit room: “Where A Film Is Born.”
This room looked like it belonged to an artist’s room that had just left the room to take a break. It was filled with several books, unfinished sketches, and freshly sharpened pencils.
Visitors are free to touch everything in this room. In fact, YOU are ENCOURAGED, to feel the artist’s vibe with the goal to inspire you to be the next Hayao Miyazaki.
Second Exhibit room: “Scene of Food”
The second exhibit room’s theme changes annually. The year we went, it showcased all the eating and food scenes from Miyazaki’s film and how there were drawn and created.
This room would make you realize how difficult it really is to create just a set frame of eating food in animation–already renders about 50-100 frames.
Third Floor: Art Collection
Cat Bus Room
The 3rd floor is where the Cat Bus from “My Neighbor Totoro” is. Elementary children age 12 and under can bounce and play in this room.
Adults are of course free to touch the Cat Bus fur that you’ve been dreaming of touching as you see it from the movie. It is not the exact size of the Cat Bus as they wanted it in the film.
They shrink it just to fit the room. I wouldn’t recommend making your smaller babies from 0-24 months here. Your little one is too small and can be crushed by bigger children.
Plus, the place can be pretty packed considering the size of the room is really small. If you need a little time alone for yourself, this is your chance to talk down to your kids if they can stay and play while you explore the rest of the museum.
Next to the Cat Bus room is the Tri-Hawks Bookstore.
Here, you can browse children’s books and picture books that are personally hand-picked by Hayao Miyazaki.
It was named Tri-Hawks as Mitaka, where the Ghibli Museum is located.
Mi-Taka translates to “three hawks” in English.
Mothers or fathers are free to read books here to their little ones.
However, the books are mainly in Japanese though.
The same floor is where you can also find the souvenir and gift shop called Mamma Auito.
It was inspired by the comedy-adventure animation Porco Rosso where Mamma Auito was a name of an air pirate gang.
Deck Area: Straw Hat Cafe
From the 3rd floor, we found our way out to the Straw Hat Cafe.
Bright orange and red cafe and restaurant with inside and outside seatings that offer an outdoor atmosphere and the views of Inokashira Park.
The restaurant is located outside or deck area of the museum, you are free to take photos in this area.
Rooftop Garden: Life-Sized Robot Soldier from “Laputa: Castle in the Sky”
Looking down over Inokashira Park is a life-sized 5-meter tall iconic character from the first film created and released by Studio Ghibli, the Laputa Robot Soldier.
Made from hammered copper plates, the statue took around 2 years to create.
But the detail makes it seem ready to spring to life at any moment.
The soldier is from the movie “Laputa: Castle in the Sky.”
And actually debuted in the final episode of Lupin the III Part II.
Although there would be some small changes to its appearance in the movie.
The 15-min Studio Ghibli Short Film That Made Us Wish Were Kids Again
Lastly, the museum shows 15-minute short films inside the Saturn Theater. The theater is located on the main floor of the museum.
The films rotate throughout the year and all are original creations for the theater.
During our visit, the theater was showing “Kujiratori (The Whale Hunt)”, which was a cute movie about children’s imagination.
Honestly, even though the movies shown are very much meant for small children, this is a highlight of the museum and a must-see during your visit.
The film tells the story of school children playing pretend that came to life.
This is our favorite feature of the museum.
It simply reminded us that it’s always fun to be a kid again and to have those special moments.
How to Get to the Ghibli Museum
Ghibli Museum is located inside the Inokashira Park. To get there, take the JR Chuo Line from Shinjuku Station to Mitaka Station. The museum is a 15-min walk from there. Don’t drive here. The museum has no parking lot.
Respect the Rules
Absolutely no photography inside the museum. The museum stated that they want you to:
Experience the Museum space with your own eyes and senses, instead of through a camera’s viewfinder.
Below are some important museum rules:
- No eating or drinking.
- Admission to the Saturn Theater is limited to one screening per person.
- No smoking on the premise.
- No re-entry to the museum.
Since photo taking is not allowed inside, take as many photos as you can from outside the museum, as the building itself is interesting and was inspired by European architecture.
Things to Do Near Ghibli Museum
After visiting the Ghibli Museum, you can explore Inokashira Park, which is one of the most important parks in Tokyo. This park is especially beautiful during the cherry blossom season.
You can also explore the Kichijoji Station area, a trendy place with an interesting vibe.
1. How early should I arrive at the museum?
Arrive at the museum at least 15-30 minutes before your designated entrance time. They are very strict on this rule.
So if you’ve missed your time slot, you’re NOT allowed to get in and tickets cannot be refunded. The good news is that, as long as you make it inside on time, you can enjoy the museum for as long as you want up until closing time.
2. Is the museum baby-friendly? Stroller-friendly?
For families with infants or small children, make sure to bring your baby carrier as strollers are not allowed. You need to leave your strollers at the designated storage area of the museum.
All floors have restrooms equipped with a diaper table. The first floor, however, is the only one with baby room and breastfeeding facilities.
3. Are there coin lockers?
Coin lockers are available but only for small luggage. If you have large suitcases, proceed to the Information Center and ask the staff for assistance.
4. Do you recommend the food at the Straw Hat Cafe?
Straw Hat Cafe seems to be pretty LOVED and has 4 out of 5-star ratings. Some stated that the food is cooked fresh and all come from an organic farm which is guaranteed healthy.
Unfortunately for us, we didn’t really get to dine at the Straw Hat Cafe because the restaurant was packed and has a LONG waiting line despite our off-season visit. I recommend that you eat here outside lunch hours, hopefully, the line has died down.
Based on their menu, the variety is limited like breaded pork, steak, sandwich, soup, and omurice (omelet rice) which are typical and the same as the ones you can find in many restaurants and cafes scattered in Japan.
The food served is not gimmicky, definitely not Ghibli-themed except for one coffee latte that has a coffee foam art of a straw hat, and a soda drink, that’s it, (sorry Instagrammers).
With these in mind, arrive at the museum with a full stomach as we did. We ate in Ichiran Ramen near Kichijoji Station.
Ghibli Museum is always mentioned as a must-visit in Tokyo. After visiting, I wanted to kick myself for not going sooner.
Perhaps it was my fond memories of watching My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away growing up. But after seeing the exhibits here, it made me feel like a kid again.
The main takeaways:
- Don’t ever feel embarrassed if you can’t help feeling like a kid again. Ghibli Museum always encourages you to touch everything in it. This is why Studio Ghibli museum is a favorite of playful parents and young at heart.
- The experience is worth more than the original ticket price. And it is best bought through Lawson for 1,000 yen only.
I can’t wait to share it with my own daughter when she’s old enough to appreciate it. I just hope that she won’t be too scared of many odd-looking characters like I was with the Cat Bus when I was young.
The museum hopes to ignite your curiosity in the concept and creation of animation and understand the artist’s essence and spirit.
However, if you have obtained it through other methods that are more expensive, it all depends subjectively if you really consider yourself both an anime and a Ghibli fan.
If neither of these things really have any meaning to you, then I would still suggest giving the museum a chance. Who knows, you may come out of the museum wanting to see more.
Special Tip: Watch 1 or 2 Studio Ghibli films before you visit. This is just to create a compelling sense of familiarity with Studio Ghibli films.
Did I miss anything? Please leave your comment below if you have any questions!