Solo in Tokyo (Day 7): Studio Ghibli Museum

April 10, 2021

It's been exactly two years since this trip happened, and the farther these memories feel for me, the more magical they all seem to be. It all feels like a dream now, but I'm so glad that I still have these photos, and most importantly that ink on my skin, to preserve the memories that I have of one of the best journeys that I have taken the courage to take, two Tokyo Springs ago.

And so here I was, on the seventh day of my trip! Fresh from the concert of the previous night, I had to wake up extra early because I was going somewhere a bit far from my usual escapades - to the location of the very famous Studio Ghibli Museum! The museum was one of my must-go-to place for this trip. I am a huge Ghibli fan, so it was really a no-brainer for me to include this in my itinerary.

How I Got Tickets
Getting hold of tickets for the museum is a bit tricky and needs some extra planning. You see, A LOT of tourists visit the museum, and the tickets cannot be purchased at the museum itself. All tickets are available for advanced reservations only. Here are the things that you need to take note of if you want to visit the museum:

🎫 Identify your target visit dates. Once you identify your itinerary dates, check on the Ghibli website when the tickets for that dates go on sale. Since I am outside Japan, I went for the Sales online by LAWSON TICKET option. Take note of this instruction on the website: 

Tickets go on sale from 10:00 (Japan time) on the 10th of each month for the following month (for example, tickets for July 1 through July 31 go on sale on June 10). Tickets are good only for the specified date and time of entry.

🎫 Promptly go online to purchase your tickets! My target ticket date was April 12, so I went online on March 10 to purchase my ticket. You have to get your tickets early because they become sold out fast! My purchase experience through the site went smoothly. I was so happy when I finally got to reserve tickets! 

🎫 Take note of your reservation code. You will need that to print your reservation details with the barcode, which is required upon museum entry. I can't emphasize this one enough. After successfully reserving and paying for the ticket, the Ghibli website will send you a confirmation email. Included there is a link that will redirect you to a page on their site wherein you can print out your reservation information with a barcode. You would also be asked for the code that you provided during the reservation process. 

A little anecdote on this ~ since my trip was still around a month or so when I purchased my Ghibli tickets, I just pushed aside my plans for that day and proceeded with the other stuff that I needed for the trip. A few days before the trip, I was on the stage of printing out all the stuff that I needed... and guess what, I forgot what my reservation code was for my Ghibli ticket! πŸ˜­ Just imagine the stress that I felt when I realized this mistake. Upon this realization, I spent the next 24 hours fretting about it. I knew my code was 4 digits, and I tried every possible combination of my usual passcodes, but still I failed. I tried to contact the Ghibli museum support and also searched for forums for people with the same situation as I was. I ended up with the plan of still showing up at the museum on my date and just explain my situation with the staff (I have the printout of the confirmation email + my passport anyway).

The next day, I tried again and typed the 4-digits for the reservation code that initially popped in my mind. And guess what - I GOT IN. I think I spent the next several minutes open-mouth gaping at my computer screen absorbing what just happened. I proceeded to printing the page, still awestruck with the luck that I had that day. The Universe just made me realize how I really wanted to go to the museum, and this experience just made me treasure this trip even more. 

🎫 Print out your reservation details with the barcode. Again, you will need this upon museum entry. The staff will scan the barcode and this will serve as your ticket pass.

How To Get to the Museum
You can ride the subway and go down at Mitaka station. Then there is a vending machine outside with round-trip bus tickets to the museum. Very convenient, right? πŸ˜€

My subway rides in the past days were uneventful, but well not for today. For the first time, I got lost and rode the wrong train.πŸ˜… In one stop, I stayed inside the train, not knowing that I was apparently in the last station. Just imagine my surprise when the train moved again, but this time to the opposite direction! πŸ˜‚ I panicked for a bit, but then I refocused my attention into revising the route on my subway app so I could align my new route again to the correct stations to get off. Good thing I still had ample time to spare before my time of entry to the museum. 😁

That green box is the vending machine for round-trip bus tickets to the Ghibli museum and Mitaka station.

The other half of my ticket for my return trip to Mitaka station
(though I wasn't able to use this).

My original plan was to just walk from Mitaka station to the museum, because based on Google maps, it was not that far really anyway. This is also the reason why I left the hotel extra early (I wasn't able to grab breakfast πŸ˜“), because I knew I had to search my way after the subway. Well good thing I spotted that vending machine!

Inside the Ghibli museum bus.

This bus actually stops in several points around the area. This is very convenient, not just for tourists but for locals also who live within the vicinity. The bus has a drop-off point at the entrance of the Ghibli museum.

Excited kid enroute to the museum. πŸ˜‚

Into The Museum
I finally arrived! It was early morning, but there were already a lot of people in line outside the museum. We were the first batch tickets (10:00AM) and the museum is just about to open.

I must say that the line was very organized. There were English-speaking staff that were asking for people's tickets and scanning their barcodes. Upon scanning mine, the staff gave me this little piece of paper, which I showed the staff at the reception table inside the museum. I was given pieces of 35mm film of Ponyo in exchange to the reservation ticket.

After several minutes of waiting in line, our batch finally was allowed to enter the museum itself! I felt like a kid in Disneyland (even better!). Because cameras are not allowed inside, I just took my time absorbing the place through my senses.😊

The museum is not as big as I initially thought but I must say the details in every corner are very apparent. You would really feel like you are inside a Ghibli film! Visitors are free to roam around the museum, which I liked. There are areas for only children to play (although I wanted to go there too 😭) like that cage in the middle of the museum and the cat bus. As an adult, I just stared at the children enviously. LOL. There were lots of areas to explore, but I think one day is enough to go through them all.

I queued in line for the first batch of viewing of the animation film. The pass for the film is already included in the standard ticket, so all you have to do is go in line with the other people. The featured short film regularly changes. For my visit they showed Koro's Big Day Out, which is about a puppy who got lost in his neighborhood. The film was enthralling. There were not much dialogue but watching the film was a very immersive experience. 

After the film, I explored the first and second floors. There were rooms with the actual objects that were used by Hayao Miyazaki and the staff in making some of the first Ghibli films. I felt like I was transported in time!
There's also a room which exhibits the animation process of the films, with details on how the animators choose colors for each scene and character. There were so much information that I just want to stay in that room and really study the process. 😍

I took this in the comfort room. LOL. Even their toilet has its beautiful aesthetics.

The Museum Cafe
Because I haven't eaten anything at this point, I realized I was already starving! I went to the cafe to have my brunch. It was still not lunch time but there was already a queue outside the cafe.

Good thing the menu was already available at the waiting area. I grabbed one to choose what my meal would be. I knew I was not going to hold back. Because I was hungry. Because this was the freakin' Studio Ghibli cafe. Because I don't know when I'll be back again. I knew I was all in. I'll order whatever the hell I wanted. This was one of those moments in my life that I was geniunely treating myself. Good job self ! This is your reward for all the hardships you've endured in life thus far. πŸ˜‚

The cafΓ© staff was asking people in the queue how many people were in a group. When it was my turn, I proudly said "table for one" (😢), and the staff redirected me in one of the high chairs facing a part of the kitchen. It was an interesting position because I get to see the kitchen staff preparing the food to serve to the other customers, which was super cool. 

I actually occupied two high chairs, the other one for my bag. πŸ˜€ (πŸ“·:

I might or might not have stolen some of these tissue. 

I had a great view of the other tables inside the cafe. While waiting for my order, I was casually people-watching, and of course taking photos.

A few seconds after this photo, the lady staff kindly requested me to refrain taking anymore photos of the inside the cafe. I remember her saying "Photos of food okay. πŸ‘Œ"

When my order came, my instincts kicked in. But before diving in, I had to take photos of my food... for documentation purposes, of course.

But yeah, what a great "documentator" (?) I am. I wasn't able to take down what name this dish was. What I remember is that it's the creamiest pasta I've ever had. It had herbs and mushrooms. And that egg just sealed this dish as a must-try in the cafe!

Just when I thought I already had the finest dish, the next best thing comes in. Their hot milk (with honey) is heaven sent! The first sip sent me straight up to the clouds. I just stared at my plate just internally happy crying because of how good these food were. And in that moment, I knew how lucky I was to experience this kind of happiness. I was in Tokyo, alone but not lonely. I was in the Studio Ghibli Cafe. I was eating these delicious food. My whole life purpose was to arrive at that moment. Okay LOL I was overreacting. But I was just so happy and grateful for this adventure, which was swiftly coming to an end. It was a bittersweet moment. I never wanted the trip to end. I didn't want to go back anymore. I wanted to stay in this dreamland forever. πŸ₯° 

Okay, when my mind finally (and reluctantly) went back to reality, I asked a staff to serve my dessert. Of course, I will always have room for dessert! I ordered their (apparently famous) Strawberry Short Cake with Berries of All Sizes because it definitely looked like food straight out of a Ghibli film. 

Hmm, I couldn't remember something that was striking with the cake, so I guess it tasted like a normal cake? πŸ˜… But for sure those berries tasted sweet! I kept that Ponyo on a stick as a souvenir. 😁

It sure was a very satisfying meal! It was all worth the trip to this place. 

Outside the Museum
Since cameras were not allowed inside, I just maximized taking photos of the exterior. It's all worth a sight too!

And here comes the awkward selfies LOL. Of course I needed proof that I really went to this place!

The Rooftop
Yes, the museum has a rooftop. It's only accessible through a spiral staircase, which is a nice touch in my opinion. 

The star of the rooftop is definitely the guardian robot from Castle in the Sky, which is in the top 5 of my most favorite Ghibli film.

Of course, I kindly asked the group in front of me to take my picture. Arigatou gozaimasu! 

I love every bit of the statue, can you tell? πŸ˜†

The robot statue guards the museum day in and day out.

Anyone who watched Castle in the Sky would recognize this cube.

The view at the rooftop was refreshing because all the surrounding trees were visible from that point.

The Souvenir Shop
Of course, I also checked out the shop for souvenirs. I knew for sure that the items would be expensive because it was the official souvenir shop of the museum. Sure, there were lots of merchandise that I only saw here (I've seen a lot of Totoro keychains in other stores in Tokyo). There were even jewelries here (maybe for cosplay) of Howl's earrings and also the necklace from Castle in the Sky. I think this was the most crowded room during my visit. I was almost shoulder-to-shoulder with most people, who were all looking closely at all the souvenirs available. 

For me, I bought the cookie set (at least it's edible and I could keep the container), the Totoro sewing set, and those sprites mirror stickers (which I think I still have not used 'til now).

The paper bag that contained the goodies!

The Totoro Entrance
My last stop was the Totoro entrance, wherein Totoro himself is manning the ticket booth! 😁This is not the real entrance of course, and Totoro is just there as a cute addition to the charm of the museum. I think I accidentally came across this area of the museum because I was actually on my way out already and I just internally screamed with glee when I saw the oh-so -familiar ticket booth with Totoro inside!

There were sprites inside! I super loved this cute detail!

This encounter with the Totoro ticket booth was the proper culmination of my Ghibli museum experience. You see, in 2012 I made this Christmas wishlist, wherein I included my desire to visit the Ghibli museum, and I inserted a photo of this very ticket booth as visualization of my wish. For the longest time, it was the sole image of the museum in my head. Who knew that after 7 years, the dream would become a reality?

I had the area all to myself, so I took the liberty of taking as many selfies as I could with the ticket booth, and of course with Totoro! I felt like this was a "look mom, I made it!" moment of my life!

And with that, I bid farewell to the museum of my dreams. As I slowly walked away from the area, I stole some last glances of the building. My heart was just floating with happiness during that moment.

Was It Worth The Visit?
My answer is a  thousand resounding YES!!! If you are a huge Ghibli fan, this museum is a place straight out of your Ghibli fantasies. I understand where some other people are coming from when they say that the museum is a bit overrated. Maybe because they had huge expectations with the place? The area to roam around the museum is not that big, and you can go around in half a day actually, if you skip the cafe. But with just the richness of details inside was fascinating enough. It's an intimate setting to experience the Ghibli magic, and I'm all here for that.

There's a Ghibli theme park in the works, with a planned opening date in 2022. Now that's something to look forward to! When all of these pandemic stuff is over, I would want to go back to Japan and to visit that theme park this time! Let's send it out to the Universe!

This was really one of the more magical days of this Tokyo trip. πŸ’“

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