Tokyo's magical Ghibli museum
The Ghibli Museum is a fantastic little attraction that brings to life the unique and beautiful style of Studio Ghibli's iconic animations. From the full sized furry Cat Bus (for kids only - sorry, grown-ups!), the mesmerising 3D zoetropes and interactive exhibits, to the museum's other-worldly buildings - even the menus in the cafe - each tiny detail references the movies’ inimitable magic. It's half mini theme-park, half museum, and complete in its immersive quirkiness; kids and adults alike will be spellbound by the endearing enchantment of this much-loved bastion of Japanese cinema.
What to expect at the Ghibli Museum...
Situated in Mitaka in western Tokyo, the Studio Ghibli museum showcases the history and art of this world-famous Japanese animation company, and the inspired work of its founder Hayao Miyazaki.
Often compared to Disney for capturing the imaginations of children and adults alike with productions like My Neighbour Totoro, Princess Mononoke and the Academy Award-winning Spirited Away, Ghibli’s distinctive anime style is loved world-wide.
Surrounded by the expansive gardens and lakes of Inokashira Park, the museum was designed by Miyazaki himself, and from the moment you enter through the front gates you will be immersed in the dream-like Ghibli world.
Totoro greets you, and if you look carefully you will also find ‘soot sprites’ hiding in the walls! Once you enter the main building, you're surrounded by beautifully coloured stained glass and a ceiling fresco, all including hidden Ghibli characters. The museum literature states 'welcome to wonderland', and it really doesn't feel like an exaggeration - you could lose yourself for hours in the Ghibli magic.
The first floor showcases the history and skills of the studio and the anime tradition it follows. Walk through the five-room exhibit entitled ‘Where Film is Born’ to see behind the scenes of the creative process, and enjoy the privilege of watching an original Ghibli short feature that is only available to see at the museum.
Kids will be able to fulfil the dream of bouncing in and on a real Cat Bus in the playroom, and everyone can appreciate sitting peacefully in the roof-top garden - in the shade of the giant Robot Soldier statue - and finding a moment of tranquillity.
The museum also has a diverse selection of temporary exhibitions, such as an experience based on the book Yureito (The Haunted Tower), which included hand-drawn manga illustrations by Hayao Miyazaki. A visit to this excellent museum offers a truly one-off experience that will bring a smile to children of any age.
Location: Mitaka, Tokyo
Duration: half a day
Accommodation: your choice of Tokyo hotel
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'We spent hours here, and we didn't even have kids with us! My companion is a huge Ghibli fan and was delighted to see behind the scenes; I'd only seen Spirited Away and Howl's Moving Castle, but found the place captivating anyway - the Totoro stroboscope was especially charming...'