The other day my daughter asked me if I’d mind taking her to the Studio Ghibli museum in Mitaka, Tokyo, since she needed to buy something for a friend’s birthday and wanted to get something really special. If you’ve got kids, you probably know of their tendency to grow up way too fast, so I was all too happy to go with her and re-live the hours we’d spent watching the films of Hayao Miyazaki together. The Ghibli Museum is one of the true highlights of a trip to Japan, a monument to everything the company has created over the years, complete with a giant catbus that children under 12 can play inside as well as a scale replica of a Laputa robot. Everything about the museum is meticulously designed for visitors, from the carved wooden trays you put your money in when buying something to the wonky works of art you can discover walking down random hallways. There’s also a cafe and restaurant that sells Ghibli-themed treats — I had omurice shaped like Mei’s straw hat from Totoro and a parfait topped with a single Kompeito candy. On top of everything else, you get to see a short film as part of your admission, with a different one showing every month. The best film is the Mei and the Kitten Bus short sequel to Totoro, and if you’re ever planning a visit I recommend you check the museum’s English homepage for the film schedule to make sure you can see this film. To avoid overcrowding by fans, advance tickets are required to visit the museum. While you can get the tickets through travel agencies, they can be difficult to purchase, so J-List has a Ghibli museum purchasing service available, if you ever need it.
One of my favorite places in the world, the Ghibli Museum.