What’s there to see at the Ghibli Museum?Hayao Miyazaki, Executive Director of the museum and one of the two geniuses behind Studio Ghibli, didn’t want to make a traditional, stuffy museum when planning the Ghibli Museum. In a blog post describing his goals for the site, he wrote that the museum shouldn’t be only for existing fans, nor did he want to just include artwork from existing films, but also new projects and special short films made just for the museum. He wanted visitors to be able to understand, just by looking at the exhibits, what the artists’ creative spirits were trying to achieve. Exhibits include the machines used to film the animation, a recreation of an art director’s studio, artwork and scrapbooks used in the process of making films, and lifesize recreations of sets from some of the movies. There’s also a small theater which plays animated short films, made exclusively for the museum.
What is Studio Ghibli?Studio Ghibli is a Japanese animation studio based in Tokyo, founded in 1985. It was headed by directors Hayao Miyazaki and the late Isao Takahata, and producer Toshio Suzuki, and in the last 33 years, it’s made some of the most popular and successful animated movies in the world. Their whimsical films include My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away (the only anime movie to ever win an Oscar), and Howl’s Moving Castle, among others. The studio stopped production in 2014 after Hayao Miyazaki announced his retirement, but since 2017 it’s been back to business as usual after the director decided to make one more movie, which is expected to be released ahead of the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
Are guided tours available?There’s no official guided tour of the museum, and tour groups often let visitors explore the museum by themselves. The museum is designed in a way that visitors are encouraged to explore, and some of the corridors are a bit narrow, so tour groups would struggle to pass through comfortably. If you do have any questions while visiting, you can ask a member of staff who will be able to help.
How long will a trip take?Most people can walk through the museum in about 2 hours, but budget some extra time if you want to eat at the cafe and spend time in the gift shop, where there’s merchandise available which you won’t find anywhere else. Super-fans will probably want to spend at least 4 hours enjoying all the tiny details.
Will my children enjoy it?Absolutely! Studio Ghibli films are loved by kids of all ages as well as adults, so if your children have seen any of them, they’ll be delighted to find out how they’re made. The museum is designed to be child-friendly, with lots of little details to discover and not very much reading, and children under 12 will also be able to enjoy playing inside a real-life Catbus, as featured in My Neighbor Totoro.