Ghibli Museum Review: A Magical Culinary Adventure

Stepping into the whimsical world of the Ghibli Museum is like walking into a dream. As a lifelong fan of Studio Ghibli’s enchanting films, I couldn’t wait to share my magical experience with fellow enthusiasts.

Tucked away in the serene city of Mitaka, Tokyo, this museum is a treasure trove for anyone captivated by the artistry of Hayao Miyazaki and his team. It’s not just a gallery; it’s an immersive journey through the creative process that brings beloved characters to life.

From the moment I laid eyes on the charming architecture, I knew I was in for a treat. The museum’s design reflects the fantasy and playfulness that define Ghibli’s films, promising an unforgettable adventure. Join me as I delve into the heart of this enchanting attraction.

Getting There

Navigating my way to the Ghibli Museum was an adventure in itself. Nestled in the serene Inokashira Park in Mitaka, which is to the west of Tokyo, the museum isn’t in the heart of the city, but getting there is simpler than you might expect.

I started my journey from Shinjuku Station, a bustling hub that connects to nearly every part of Tokyo. Here, I hopped on the JR Chuo Line, which can whisk you away to Mitaka Station in about 20 minutes. The ride itself is comfortable, and as the cityscape slowly melts into a more suburban setting, I could feel the anticipation building.

Upon arriving at Mitaka Station, you’re greeted by a whimsical sign pointing towards the Ghibli Museum, which is about a 15-minute walk along the Tamagawa Aqueduct. However, if walking isn’t your thing or you’re pressed for time, there’s a community bus that runs directly to the museum from the station’s south exit for a small fee. The bus is adorned with Ghibli characters which certainly sets the mood for what’s to come.

Important Tips for the Trip:

  • Buy your ticket in advance. You can’t purchase tickets at the museum, and they must be bought beforehand through designated vendors or online platforms.
  • Timings differ. Be sure to check the bus and train schedules as they can vary, especially on weekends and holidays.
  • Pack light. The museum allows only small bags, and large luggage must be stored in lockers at the station.

As I stepped off the bus at the museum, the anticipation that built up during the train and bus ride reached its peak. The museum’s whimsical structure peeked through the lush greenery of Inokashira Park, inviting me in to discover the wonders that awaited. Stepping through the entrance, I knew that the journey to get to Mitaka was just a small part of the enchanting experience that is visiting the Ghibli Museum.

Exploring the Exterior

Upon first glimpse, the Ghibli Museum radiates with the enchantment Studio Ghibli films are renowned for. The design pays homage to the intricate and whimsical artistry that characterizes the studio’s work, making you feel as though you’ve stepped straight into one of Miyazaki’s creations. Here’s what caught my attention as I explored the exterior:

The museum’s architecture itself is a sight to behold with its vibrant colors and unconventional shapes, which evoke a sense of wonder. The walls, adorned with a myriad of distinctive windows that range in shape and size, cast playful shadows and create a mosaic of light that adds an extra layer of charm to the building.

Roaming around, I discovered the enchanting rooftop garden. It’s home to a life-sized robot soldier from the film “Castle in the Sky,” standing guard over the museum. This iconic figure is not merely a statue but a beacon for Studio Ghibli fans, symbolizing the boundless imagination the museum celebrates. Its brassy sheen contrasts beautifully with the greenery around, making it a popular spot for photos.

Furthermore, the exterior includes cozy nooks and twirling staircases that invite exploration. The use of natural elements such as ivy that clings to the vintage walls adds to the museum’s organic and rustic appeal. The fusion of art and nature is seamless, mirroring the relationship many Ghibli films have with the environment.

As others have noted, the details are not just aesthetic but revelatory. Each turn seems to offer a new surprise—a stained glass window depicting a beloved character, or a small door that piques curiosity about what lies beyond. The walkways and gardens around the museum are meticulously maintained, with benches strategically placed to offer a restful view of the museum and its harmonious integration with Inokashira Park.

Experiencing the museum from the outside can be as fulfilling as the treasures it holds within. Each element of the exterior is an invitation to wander and an enticement to the senses. The intricate designs inspire a slower pace to fully appreciate the artful approach to architecture and homage to nature—a true testament to Studio Ghibli’s creative philosophy.

Inside the Museum

Stepping through the enchanting doors of the Ghibli Museum is like entering the mind of Hayao Miyazaki himself. Each exhibit is a tapestry of creativity that showcases the whimsical worlds and characters from Studio Ghibli’s films. I’m immersed in an atmosphere that’s both nostalgic and imaginative from the moment I cross the threshold.

The museum’s interior is equally as magical as its exterior. With no set path, I’m encouraged to meander through rooms filled with sketches, storyboards, and memorable film concepts. One-of-a-kind animations greet me at every corner, offering a rare glimpse into the creative process that goes into making an animated feature.

The Saturn Theater, a cozy cinema within the walls of the museum, features exclusive short films that I won’t find anywhere else on the planet. It’s like getting a secret peek into unreleased material, creating a special bond between the museum and its visitors. The passion and detail in these shorts mirror the care seen throughout the museum’s design.

Interactive exhibits invite me to engage rather than just observe. Toying with the intricacies of animation, I’m able to experience the magic first-hand by playing with zoetropes or flipping through image sequences to understand how static art comes to life. It’s these immersive touchpoints that make the Ghibli Museum an unforgettable experience.

A replica of Miyazaki’s workplace is replete with original drawings and watercolor paintings, making it as though I’m stepping directly into the maestro’s shoes. Stacks of books, scattered art supplies, and pinned inspirations add authenticity to this sacred space. This area is a treasure trove for both aspiring creators and lifelong fans, a testimony to the hard work behind the whimsy.

By design, the Ghibli Museum narrows the gap between film and fan. It’s living proof that art has the power to transport, and that immersive experiences can bridge the understanding between creator and audience. Each room and exhibit here builds on the sense of wonder instilled by the outside gardens and architecture, ensuring that the curiosity and awe only continue to grow as I move through the space.

The Ghibli Film Theater

Delving deeper into the Ghibli Museum, one can’t help but be charmed by the Saturn Theater. Nestled in the heart of the museum, it invites visitors to a cinematic experience like no other. Exclusive screenings take place here, showcasing Ghibli shorts that can’t be found anywhere else in the world. I found myself eagerly awaiting the start of the film, surrounded by fellow enthusiasts who shared my anticipation.

Each short film is a testament to the studio’s dedication to storytelling and animation. Whether it’s a whimsical tale that tugs at your heartstrings or an inspiring story filled with adventure, the selection offers something unique for every viewer. It’s not just a viewing experience; it’s a dive into the essence of Ghibli’s craft.

The design of the theater itself is awe-inspiring. The seats are cozy, the acoustics are perfect, and the atmosphere feels as though you’ve been transported into one of Miyazaki’s own sketches. Art and comfort blend seamlessly, ensuring the environment is as much a part of the experience as the film itself.

To keep the magic alive, the lineup of films changes periodically, compelling visitors to return and see what new tales have been spun from Ghibli’s loom. A notice board outside the theater provides the schedule for the short films, allowing you to plan your visit around the screenings.

If you’re wondering about language barriers, rest assured that the visuals alone tell a story that transcends words. Yet, if available, subtitles do help in fully understanding the narrative. It’s worth noting, too, that photography inside the theater isn’t permitted, preserving the intimate and immersive atmosphere for all. This respect for the art and the audience alike is something I deeply appreciated.

Moving from the enchantment of the films, I wandered back into the museum, carrying the stories and the emotions they evoked with me. The experience in the Saturn Theater isn’t one that fades as soon as the credits roll; it lingers, like the echo of a whispered secret, nestling in the corners of your memory.

The Catbus Room

Upon leaving the Saturn Theater, I wandered into the whimsical world of the Catbus Room, a highlight for children and adults alike at the Ghibli Museum. Replica from “My Neighbor Totoro”, this magical place is like stepping straight into a scene from the beloved film. The space is brightly colored, with a life-sized Catbus that children can climb aboard and explore. Surrounding the room are soft, oversized plush toys and cushions that echo the forest creatures from the movie, creating an interactive and tactile experience.

I’ve watched families and children with joyous abandon play in this enticing space, their laughter ringing out as they experienced the enchantment of Ghibli firsthand. It’s not simply a room; the Catbus Room is an immersive experience that allows one to momentarily live within a Ghibli masterpiece. Through childlike eyes, even adults are drawn into the playful atmosphere, a testament to the universal appeal of Miyazaki’s creations.

  • Bright, cheerful atmosphere
  • Life-sized Catbus for exploration
  • Soft plush toys and forest creature cushions

The walls are adorned with murals depicting scenes from various Ghibli films, encouraging a sense of nostalgia for the adult fans. It’s clear that this room isn’t just for entertainment but also serves as a celebration of Ghibli’s artistry. While exploring this room, I felt a renewed appreciation for the studio’s dedication to hand-drawn animation and storytelling.

As fascinating as the Catbus itself, the room has been cleverly designed to ensure safety while maximizing fun. All surfaces are soft and child-friendly, and museum staff gently guide the playtime, ensuring that every young visitor gets a turn to experience the Catbus. This careful attention to detail and consideration enhances the overall experience, showcasing Ghibli’s philosophy of creating joyous, inclusive spaces for fans of all ages.

The Straw Hat Cafe

Stepping out of the whimsical world of the Catbus Room, I soon found myself drawn to the delightful aromas wafting from the Straw Hat Cafe. Situated within the Ghibli Museum, this charming eatery captures the enchantment of the studio’s films with its quaint decor and a menu that seems curated right out of a Ghibli universe.

The ambiance of the cafe is something right out of a cozy film set. With its rustic wooden tables and windows overlooking the museum’s verdant grounds, the Straw Hat Cafe is the perfect place to relax and indulge in some tasty treats.

I was especially impressed by the array of culinary offerings. From light snacks to heartier meals, the menu caters to a variety of tastes and preferences. It’s a must-try experience for every Ghibli fan to savor dishes that are not only delicious but also crafted with an artistic touch resonating with the films’ aesthetic.

  • Totoro’s Cream Puff
  • Spirited Away Sandwich
  • Catbus Cake

These are just a few of the creatively named menu items that bring Ghibli’s charm to life.

The cafe also offers a selection of locally sourced and organic ingredients which highlights Studio Ghibli’s commitment to sustainability. The friendly staff are more than willing to share insights into the menu’s inspirations, making each meal a blend of culinary delight and storytelling.

After enjoying my meal, I couldn’t help but notice the attention to detail that went into the presentation of the food. The plating was impeccable, and the flavors were a harmonious blend of traditional Japanese cuisine with a whimsical twist that only Ghibli could pull off so effortlessly.

While sipping on my Studio Ghibli-themed beverage, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of delight as I soaked in the cafe’s atmosphere, surrounded by fellow fans sharing their love for Miyazaki’s creations. The Straw Hat Cafe is not just about the food; it’s an extension of the museum’s experience, one that stirs the imagination and palates in equal measure.


My visit to the Ghibli Museum was nothing short of magical and the Straw Hat Cafe was the cherry on top. It’s clear that every corner of this place is designed with the same heart and soul that goes into the beloved Ghibli films. Whether you’re a longtime fan or a newcomer to the whimsical world of Studio Ghibli, the museum and its cafe offer a unique experience that’s sure to enchant. I left with a full belly, a full heart, and memories that I’ll treasure forever. If you find yourself in Tokyo, don’t miss the chance to step into this real-life slice of Ghibli magic.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Straw Hat Cafe at the Ghibli Museum?

The Straw Hat Cafe is a dining establishment within the Ghibli Museum that offers meals and snacks inspired by the world of Studio Ghibli films, served in a rustic and enchanting environment that complements the magical experience of the museum.

What kind of menu does the Straw Hat Cafe offer?

The Straw Hat Cafe offers a variety of options, including light snacks and heartier meals, all presented with an artistic flair that aligns with Studio Ghibli’s film aesthetics.

Does the Straw Hat Cafe accommodate dietary restrictions?

While the article doesn’t specify, the Straw Hat Cafe’s focus on organic and locally sourced ingredients suggests there may be options for various dietary preferences. It’s advisable to inquire with the cafe directly for specific dietary accommodation.

How does the Straw Hat Cafe contribute to sustainability?

The cafe emphasizes sustainability by utilizing locally sourced and organic ingredients, which supports local agriculture and reduces the environmental impact associated with long-distance food transportation.

Is the Straw Hat Cafe just a place to eat?

No, the Straw Hat Cafe is more than just a place to eat. It’s an integral part of the Ghibli Museum experience that combines culinary enjoyment with the storytelling and artistry of Studio Ghibli, offering insights into the menu inspirations through its staff and presentation.