Skip to content

Ghibli Museum Guide: How To Make The Best Of Your Visit To The Beloved Animation Mecca

Ghibli Museum guide

The Ghibli Museum is approaching its 20th anniversary, having opened its doors on 1st October 2001. Yet, the whimsical museum appears to be a timeless fantasy, housing exhibitions of animated classics. Tickets are always in demand, so if you do get your hands on one, you should make the most out of it with the help of this Ghibli Museum guide.

1. Reserve your tickets on LAWSON

Ghibli Museum - lawson app
Image adapted from: App Store

You need to purchase an electronic ticket through the LAWSON mobile application to gain entry into the museum. For iOS users, click here to download it. For Android users, click here.

Ticket sales for the day of visit begin 1 week prior. This means that if you intend to visit the museum next Friday, you can only start purchasing your ticket this Friday.

Click here to book your tickets. You’ll be prompted to register for a LAWSON account with a Japanese phone number. Then, select the date of visit and entry timing to book your tickets. 

In the past, international visitors could also purchase admission tickets from travel agencies. However, this is currently suspended due to COVID-19.

2. Admire the fresco at the entrance

Ghibli Museum - entrance
Image credit: @domiiiiiiiiiiiii1228

Upon entering the Ghibli world, stow your phones and cameras away as photography is prohibited. Instead, take the time to enjoy every sight without distraction. Your journey begins with a magical welcome at the entrance, where an impressive fresco awaits you.

Ghibli Museum - fresco
Image adapted from: 三鷹の森ジブリ美術館 GHIBLI MUSEUM, MITAKA

Frescoes are watercolour paintings done on wet plaster on walls and ceilings. The frescoes at the Ghibli Museum features a huge sprouting beanstalk, on which many characters from different Ghibli films perch. 

Ghibli Museum - fresco totoro
Image adapted from: 三鷹の森ジブリ美術館 GHIBLI MUSEUM, MITAKA

Try to spot familiar faces such as Mei, Satsuki, and Catbus from Totoro.

3. Learn about film creation through the permanent exhibition

a boy's room exhibition
A Boy’s Room – A Gift From Grandpa
Image credit: Mechachap

Head down to Where A Film Is Born, a permanent exhibition located on the ground floor.

Ghibli Museum - where a film is born
Image adapted from: 三鷹の森ジブリ美術館 GHIBLI MUSEUM, MITAKA

The exhibition consists of 5 rooms, and the rooms are furnished with books, illustrations, and homely decor related to the process of creating Studio Ghibli’s iconic films. 

You’ll find toys and sketches in “A Boy’s Room – A Gift From Grandpa”. The space is meant to represent a room that belongs to a boy who has a budding interest in film-making.

Ghibli Museum - a girl's room
A Girl’s Room
Image adapted from: 三鷹の森ジブリ美術館 GHIBLI MUSEUM, MITAKA

Meanwhile, in a room called “A Girl’s Room”, you’ll find paintings lining the walls. The little witch hanging near the window adds a quirky touch to the room – perhaps it’s meant to represent Kiki from Kiki’s Delivery Service.

witch a girl's room
Image adapted from: 三鷹の森ジブリ美術館 GHIBLI MUSEUM, MITAKA

4. Enjoy an original short film at the Saturn Theater

saturn theatre
Image adapted from: 三鷹の森ジブリ美術館 GHIBLI MUSEUM, MITAKA

After witnessing the film creation process, head down to the Saturn Theater to see original Studio Ghibli short films. Based on the info provided on the Ghibli Museum website, these short films range from ~9-16 minutes in length.

Ghibli Museum - featured short films
Past featured films
Image adapted from: Ghibli Museum

The theatre screens the featured film multiple times a day. The featured film is changed every 1.5 months. You can check the screening schedule for the upcoming month here.

Ghibli Museum - saturn theatre windows
Image adapted from: 三鷹の森ジブリ美術館 GHIBLI MUSEUM, MITAKA

Before the film starts, the windows at the sides of the theatre will automatically close in order to simulate a dim cinema atmosphere. 

Ghibli Museum - train compartment
Image adapted from: 三鷹の森ジブリ美術館 GHIBLI MUSEUM, MITAKA

The broadcasting room, which is shaped like a train compartment, will then begin screening the film. When the film ends, the windows will then reopen to brighten up the room.

Note that you may only enter the theatre once during a single visit. As the Saturn Theater can only accommodate about 80 people – possibly even fewer due to COVID-19 regulations – it’s advisable to queue up early to ensure that you can catch the film during your visit.

5. View the Earwig and the Witch special exhibitions

The museum houses special exhibitions. Each special exhibition lasts 1-2 years. 

Ghibli Museum - mini earwig and the witch exhibition
Image adapted from: 三鷹の森ジブリ美術館 GHIBLI MUSEUM, MITAKA

On 22nd January 2021, they opened a mini exhibition for their first 3D movie, Earwig and the Witch. It features the ideation and animation process of the movie.

Ghibli Museum - earwig and the witch special exhibition
Image credit: Ghibli Museum

A grander exhibition for the movie was then opened on 2nd June 2021, outlining the animation process in greater detail.

Ghibli Museum - interactive display earwig
Image adapted from: 三鷹の森ジブリ美術館 GHIBLI MUSEUM, MITAKA

Within the exhibition, you’ll find an interactive display that allows you to adjust the expression of the film protagonist, Earwig. It serves as a taster of how 3D animation works.

6. Take a picture with Robot Soldier

robot soldier statue
Image credit: @rinasakai

After touring the exhibits indoors, head up to the rooftop terrace to snap a commemorative shot with a large Robot Soldier, which was featured in the 1986 classic Castle In The Sky. This is a rare chance to document your visit with photos – remember, photography is prohibited in the rest of the museum.

7. Unwind at the Straw Hat Cafe

straw hat cafe
Image adapted from: 三鷹の森ジブリ美術館 GHIBLI MUSEUM, MITAKA

After enjoying the visual feast at the museum, treat yourself to a quick bite at the Straw Hat Cafe. Boasting a bright yellow-red colour scheme, the lively eatery continues the fantastical theme of the museum. 

Ghibli Museum - straw hat cafe entrance
Image credit: Kentaro Ohno

The menu offers small bites such as sandwiches and pound cakes, which will be served with special Ghibli-themed tableware and decorations.

Kuishinbo Cutlet Sandwich
Image credit: Ghibli Museum

We recommend getting the Kuishinbo Cutlet Sandwich (¥750, ~USD6.86), a simple but delicious sandwich with a piece of pork cutlet and lettuce. It also comes with a mini flag, on which Ghibli characters are printed. You can take it home as a souvenir.

clam chowder
Image credit: Ghibli Museum

If you’re visiting during winter, warm up your bellies with their clam chowder (¥500, ~USD4.57).

pound cakes
Image adapted from: Ghibli Museum and Ghibli Museum

Don’t miss out on their assortment of pound cakes. The prices range from ¥380 (~USD3.48) for a plain pound cake to ¥420 (~USD3.84) for a brownie.

Browse the menu here.

8. Buy Ghibli merchandise at MAMMA AIUTO!

Image credit: Ghibli Museum

End your visit by bringing home exclusive merchandise available at MAMMA AIUTO! The store sells postcard sets, mugs, and pottery pieces made by skilled artisans.

View the full catalogue here.

Getting to Ghibli Museum

The Ghibli Museum awaits you in Mikata. Spend a good day taking photos with Totoro, buying exclusive merchandise, and learning about what goes on behind the scenes at Studio Ghibli.

Getting there: The official website recommends taking the Ghibli-themed bus from the south exit of Mikata Station to the museum. Single-trip tickets cost ¥210 (~USD1.92) for adults and ¥110 (~USD1.00) for children. Round-trip tickets cost ¥320 (~USD2.92) and ¥160 (~USD1.46) for adults and children respectively.

Address: 1 Chome-1-83 Shimorenjaku, Mitaka, 181-0013 Tokyo
Opening hours: Wed Mon 10AM-5.30PM, Daily (Closed on Tuesdays)
Admission: ¥1,000 (~USD9.14) for general admission; ¥700 (~USD6.40) for middle and high school students; ¥400 (~USD3.65) for elementary school students; ¥100 (~USD0.91) for kids ages 4 and above; free for ages below 4.
Telephone: 0570-05-5777

For more places to visit in Japan, check out:

Cover image adapted from: @kyonsan_official, @b.o.l.t.luna.official and @b.o.l.t.luna.official