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Visiting the Ghibli Museum in Tokyo

Another item for your Tokyo visit bucket list, the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka! Might be fun? I’m sure this will be fun. Ghibli! You know. Totoro, Nausica, Howl’s Moving Castle, Ponyo. Need I go on?

There are no photos allowed inside of the building, but it is OK to take photos of the building from the outside. So, those are the photos you will see in this post.

The most obvious and largest attraction at the museum is this giant replica of one of the robots from Castle in the Sky Laputa. It really is huge, impressive, and all-around great. I want one in my backyard. There was an orderly line to get photos with the robot, with guests helping each other hit the shutter so folks could get their photos together. It’s too big for a selfie stick.

Photo includes humans for scale.

The robot is on the roof, and you can just barely see him peeking his head out from the outside of the building.

See if you can find the giant robot in the photo below!

Hello Mr. Robot.

Aside from the main event the museum has little Ghibli easter eggs everywhere. From tiny details in the stained glass windows, to more obvious characters in unlikely places, like in the image below.

Here are some soot creatures hanging out in a random window at the Ghibli Museum.

These little guys are the soot creatures from the 1988 film “My Neighbor Totoro.” In Japanese they are called makkuro kurosuke and are are small, black, furry creatures that live in the attic of the house where Satsuki and Mei, live with their father. They are a central part of the movie’s atmosphere — a really great minor major bunch of critters. I don’t even remember seeing them named in the museum, but here they are! They also appear in another area inside of the building that your kids will love if you’re traveling with them.

There is also a mini theater inside of the museum that runs a short exclusive Ghibli film throughout the day. We saw one about a lump of bread dough that comes to life, obviously, and it really was a treat watching it with all the other fans.

The entire complex is not that large, in a three-story building that covers an area of approximately 3,300 square meters / 35,520 sq. ft., but since the inside is so packed with goodness you can easily spend three hours on site. There are also a couple of places to get food and eat outdoors.

If you you are visiting with small children, there is a park just a short distance from the museum, so you can go there to relax while your kids get dangerous on the park equipment. Perfect!

Exit Through the Gift Shop

The museum’s gift shop, called the MAMMA AIUTO! shop, offers a variety of merch. Some of the items that are typically available for sale at the gift shop include:

  • Toys and figurines of Ghibli characters
  • Posters, prints, and other wall art featuring Ghibli characters and artwork
  • Clothing and accessories featuring Ghibli characters and designs
  • Books and comics
  • Stationery
  • Home goods, such as cups, mugs, and other kitchen items

They even had high-quality figures that cost more than $150 USD when we were there. They even had a replica of the blue pendant that appears in the movie Castle in the Sky that was made by Swarovski. I didn’t buy it.

The selection of merchandise at the gift shop may change depending on timing. They do have a web shop. You can be pretty sure that they’ll have some amazing stuff, so I wouldn’t worry too much about inventory.

OK, But How do I get there?

Here is how to get to the Ghibli Museum from Shibuya.

  1. Take the JR Yamanote Line from Shibuya Station to Mitaka Station [20 min].
  2. From Mitaka Station, you can walk to the museum. [15 min], or you can take a bus [10 min].
  3. Alternatively, you can take the Keio Inokashira Line from Shibuya Station to Kichijoji Station, which is also located near the museum. From Kichijoji Station, you can walk to the museum [15 min], or you can take a bus.

Get your tickets early

The Ghibli Museum is popular, and not very large. You must purchase tickets in advance. In December 2022, tickets went on sale monthly, and the month completely sold out in one to two days. Tickets can be purchased online or at select locations in Japan, including the Studio Ghibli store in Shibuya.

Visit Tips

  • It is OK and a good idea to bring kids, even if they are under 4. They’ll have a great time.
  • Try to leave large backpacks in your hotel as it can get crowded, and there are even some pathways designed so that adults have to hunch over to get through. There is a locker cluster on site.
  • You can have lunch on site, feel free to plan your visit to span lunch hour.
  • The gift shop is modern and accepts most credit cards.
  • There is no “route” laid out, so feel free to backtrack and visit sites more than once. You’ll discover something new each time you run through.
  • Watch as many Ghibli movies as you can before your visit! It will help you recognize things and have more fun.

Check it out! Let me know if there are any questions you have about the museum that I haven’t answered here!

A Quiet Refuge with a View in Ginza, Tokyo – and free!

Ginza doesn’t have to be expensive. In addition to some reasonably priced eateries, and shopping staples like Uniqlo, you can also visit this nice area on top of Ginza Six called Ginza Six Garden.

To get to Ginza Six Garden, just go to Ginza Six and head to the rooftop floor. You’ll need to find the elevator bank that goes up to 13F.

Tokyo is a busy bustling place that can really wear you out. This rooftop garden on Ginza Six is a great place to relax and cool down. As you can see from the photos, when I was there on a weekend there was hardly anyone around. Of course, this is just before Japan will fully reopen to tourism on October 11, but I have a hunch that even after the tourists come back this place won’t be packed.

There are benches to sit on, and the view is pretty good. There are so many buildings around it’s definitely not the best view, but hey, it’s free. You can see Tokyo Tower, Tokyo Sky Tree, the Mitsukoshi building, and other sites. I give the view a 7 out of 10.

If you’re in Ginza and are looking for a place to chill out and avoid the crowds, head to the top of Ginza Six and check out this garden. Inside of Ginza Six you’ll find lots of tourist-appropriate shopping, and some very classy restaurants.

Go check out the Rooftop Garden at Ginza Six! Might be fun!

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Harajuku Circa 2002

When I was relatively new to Tokyo I visited Harajuku summer 2002. Here’s some photos and memories from that time.

Harajuku is just about a 20 minute stroll from Shibuya. If you plan to visit, just get to Shibuya and you can walk to Harajuku and through Omotesando as well on the same trip.

Takeshita Doori 2002
Takeshita Street (2002)

Harajuku used to be famous for clothing shops, crepe, and the extreme fashions of the people who hang out there. The vibe has changed a bit since 2002. Nearby Omotesando is a clean fancy street filled with high end shops and fancy restaurants. Harajuku station itself is scheduled to be remodeled and expanded and will no longer be a cute little station resembling a cabin of sorts. I haven’t been in a while, but I’m pretty sure that Takeshita street still gets super crowded. Some things will never change. Probably a much higher percentage of out of foreign tourists now though.

Back in 2002, as soon as I got to the station area I noticed the crazy fashion statements that were mentioned in every Tokyo guide book at the time. The pictures speak for themselves. The locals welcomed the photos, and posed and looked directly into the camera for me.

Harajuku Fashion 2002
Harajuku Fashion 2002
Harajuku Fashion 2002
Harajuku Fashion 2002
Harajuku Fashion 2002 - Two girls
Harajuku Fashion 2002
Harajuku Fashion 2002
Harajuku Fashion 2002

The gathering was organized and set around a specific time. Was it Sunday mornings? Local photographers came out to take pictures, and everyone came out with their suitcases filled with gear for their outfits.

Harajuku Station Area 2002
Harajuku Station Area 2002
Harajuku Station Area 2002 Photographer
Harajuku Station Area 2002 Photographer

Have you been to Harajuku recently? What’s changed? Is the vibe around the station area and entrance to the park generally the same? Now when I go to Japan I generally go to Osaka, so it’s been a while since I’ve been to Harajuku too see if these folks still come out!

I can’t believe it’s been almost 20 years…

Harajuku Fashion 2002
Harajuku Fashion 2002