Ghibli Museum vs Park: Best Miyazaki Experience?

As a Studio Ghibli enthusiast, I’ve often been asked about the differences between the Ghibli Museum and the newly opened Ghibli Park. While both celebrate the magic of Miyazaki’s films, they offer distinct experiences that cater to different types of fans. I’ve explored the whimsical corridors of the Ghibli Museum and wandered through the expansive realms of Ghibli Park, and I’m here to share my insights.

The Ghibli Museum, nestled in Mitaka, Tokyo, is a cozy and intimate space that invites visitors into the world of animation through its detailed exhibits and exclusive short films. On the other hand, Ghibli Park, located in Aichi Prefecture, is an immersive adventure into the iconic scenes and buildings of Ghibli’s beloved movies, set in a sprawling natural environment. Let’s dive into the enchanting details that set these two Ghibli havens apart.

Ghibli Museum: A Cozy and Intimate Space

Walking into the Ghibli Museum is like stepping into the personal sketchbook of Hayao Miyazaki himself. Nestled in the quiet Tokyo suburb of Mitaka, this enchanting facility captures the whimsy and wonder of Studio Ghibli’s films. Here’s what makes the museum stand out:

  • Exclusive Short Films: These films can’t be seen anywhere else.
  • Intricate Exhibits: Each display meticulously showcases Ghibli’s animation process.

As I meandered through the museum, I couldn’t help but be captivated by the attention to detail found in every nook. Unlike the expansive Ghibli Park, the museum’s charm lies in its small, intimate spaces, from the adorable bookstore to the rooftop garden featuring a life-sized Robot Soldier from “Castle in the Sky.”

One key highlight is the Saturn Theater, where visitors can enjoy original short films that rotate periodically throughout the year. These special screenings are a major draw for Ghibli enthusiasts and are only available to museum-goers.

The exhibits are a deep dive into the Ghibli universe. You’ll get a behind-the-scenes look at the artistry that goes into creating Ghibli’s beloved films. Pausing at a recreation of an animator’s desk, I observed the layers of sketches and watercolors that evolve into the final frames of animation. These installations not only honor the craft but also inspire visitors to appreciate the traditional methods of hand-drawn animation.

Rotating special exhibits ensure that each visit offers a fresh glimpse into the world of Ghibli. Whether it’s exploring the architecture of different films or celebrating specific characters, the museum is a treasure trove for fans and a testament to Ghibli’s creative legacy.

Walking through the museum’s whimsically designed rooms with intricate stained glass windows featuring iconic Ghibli characters, it’s easy to be immersed in the museum’s magical ambiance. It’s a place that reminds you why Ghibli films are so cherished: they transport you to another world, and the Ghibli Museum does just that, within its cozy walls.

Ghibli Park: An Immersive Adventure

As I wandered into Ghibli Park, a new gem nestled in Aichi’s Expo Park, it became immediately apparent that this sprawling homage has taken things to a whole new level. Unlike the Ghibli Museum, the park aims to create a fully immersive environment, where guests are not just observers but participants in the studio’s iconic worlds.

The park, which opened its doors to the public in November 2022, is split into various areas, each meticulously themed around different Ghibli films. One of the most talked-about zones is the Hill of Youth. Here, buildings and surroundings evoke the romantic and mysterious universe of “Whisper of the Heart” and “The Cat Returns”.

  • The Big Ghibli Warehouse offers an indoor experience filled with play areas, exhibits and a cinema showcasing Ghibli’s extensive filmography.
  • For those seeking adventure, the Dondoko Forest is a real treat. It perfectly replicates Mei and Satsuki’s house from “My Neighbor Totoro,” allowing visitors to step right into the film.
  • The Valley of Witches with its European aesthetic, inspired by movies like “Kiki’s Delivery Service” and “Howl’s Moving Castle,” is slated to open in the park’s second phase.

What stands out at Ghibli Park is the dedication to sustaining the natural landscape. There are no rides; instead, the emphasis is on appreciating the beauty of nature and art as they intermingle. In a stark contrast to the usual commercialized theme park experience, you won’t find excessive merchandising here. The Ghibli Park experience is designed to be as unobtrusive and harmonious with its environment as possible, which only amplifies the escapist fantasy it intends to create.

Throughout the year, Ghibli Park also plans to host a variety of seasonal events, promising to offer return visitors a unique experience with each visit. Access to the park is carefully managed to prevent overcrowding, ensuring that every guest has the chance to fully absorb the magic without the distraction of long lines or bustling crowds.

Exhibits and Exclusive Short Films at Ghibli Museum

The magic of Studio Ghibli isn’t just confined to the big screen. At the Ghibli Museum, exclusive short films await, available nowhere else but within the museum’s cozy Saturn Theater. These shorts offer a peek into the untold stories and characters that inhabit the Ghibli universe. With rotating films throughout the year, visitors are always in for a new surprise, each visit potentially offering an entirely different cinematic experience.

Stepping out of the Saturn Theater, guests are plunged into a world of imagination through the museum’s extensive exhibits. I’m always amazed by the meticulous craftsmanship that goes into creating these exhibits. From sketches to final animations, Ghibli’s artistry is laid bare for fans to admire. The museum does a spectacular job at demystifying their magical animation process, showcasing original storyboards, character designs, and even hand-painted film cells.

Unlike traditional museums, the Ghibli Museum encourages interaction. Kids and adults alike can explore a recreation of an animator’s studio. It’s here that the true charm of Ghibli’s approach to storytelling really shines through; they manage to turn even a simple artist’s desk into something out of a fantasy world. With lifelike props and piles of reference books, the attention to detail fosters a deep appreciation for the labor and love that goes into each Ghibli creation.

The exhibits at the Ghibli Museum reflect the studio’s philosophy. They’re intimate, deliberate, and completely ensconced in fantasy. They serve as a tactile companion to the films, enhancing the overall emotional bond between Ghibli’s stories and their audience. Whether it’s through exclusive film screenings or hands-on exploration of the animation process, the museum offers an unmatched deep-dive into the world of Ghibli that you just can’t get from watching the films at home.

The tantalizing glimpse into the animator’s realm and the sensory joys of the short films make the Ghibli Museum not just a trip but an experience that resonates with fans long after they’ve left.

Iconic Scenes and Buildings at Ghibli Park

As I delve deeper into the Ghibli Park, it’s safe to say that iconic scenes and buildings are the cornerstones of this enchanting experience. One of the park’s highlights is the replicas of famed settings from Ghibli’s treasured films. These structures aren’t just static displays; they’re interactive and immersive constructs that whisk visitors directly into the world they’ve seen on screen.

For starters, there’s the Hill of Youth area, which features the Antique Shop from Whisper of the Heart. Stepping inside, you’re transported instantly to the film’s cozy, curiosity-filled world. The attention to detail is simply impeccable, with items that would strike a chord with any Ghibli enthusiast.

Next on the itinerary is the Ghibli’s Grand Warehouse, an eclectic combination of playground and exhibit hall. This spot boasts replicas from Spirited Away, such as the bathhouse doors, and other majestic creations that are sheer eye candy for fans. It’s a treasure trove of past movie sets and props, where I’m free to interact and play, making the experience quite surreal.

Exploring further, I encounter the Mononoke Village, which draws inspiration from Princess Mononoke. The design here embodies the film’s spirit and environmental themes. Wander through the Emishi village, feel the weight of history, and envisage the harmony between humans and nature as portrayed in the film. It’s a vivid reminder of Miyazaki’s storytelling prowess.

The Dondoko Forest is another spectacular area, mirroring the rural setting of My Neighbor Totoro. I find myself wandering paths lined with lush greenery that lead to Satsuki and Mei’s house. It’s as if I’ve jumped into the frame myself and can expect Totoro to appear at any moment.

Ghibli Museum vs Ghibli Park: The Key Differences

When deciding whether to visit the Ghibli Museum or Ghibli Park, understanding the key differences between the two is essential. The Ghibli Museum is a more intimate venue, curated as a cozy, exploratory space for fans to immerse themselves in the art and craft of Studio Ghibli films. It’s a nostalgic alcove where one can witness the painstaking details that go into animation. The exclusive short films and original artwork provide a rare glimpse into the creative process behind Ghibli’s masterpieces.

In contrast, Ghibli Park is an ambitious expansion into the physical realm, offering life-sized replicas of the film’s fantastical elements. It is as if the films have spilled out into the real world, beckoning visitors to interact with the settings they once admired on screen. Each constructed element within the park feels like stepping across the boundary of reality and into the world of Miyazaki’s imagination.

The Ghibli Museum offers a tranquil indoor experience where the scent of paper and paint evokes the feel of a working studio. Here’s what to keep in mind:

  • Exclusivity: The museum screens films not found anywhere else.
  • Interactivity: Touch and explore displays in an animator’s studio environment.
  • Educational: Learn about the animation process and Ghibli’s history.

The Ghibli Park, on the other hand, is an outdoor journey into the iconic environments of the films. The key aspects of the park include:

  • Scale: Full-sized structures invite you into the Ghibli universe.
  • Variety: Each area of the park reflects a different Ghibli movie.
  • Immersiveness: Engage with detailed, realistic recreations of beloved scenes.

Whether it’s the whimsy of standing in the heart of the Catbus Room at the museum or the thrill of wandering through the rustic paths of Dondoko Forest at the park, fans can indulge in an array of experiences tailored to their connection with Ghibli’s art.


Deciding between the Ghibli Museum’s intimate charm and Ghibli Park’s expansive wonder is a delightful dilemma for any fan. I’ve explored the enchanting corridors of the museum and roamed the vast recreations at the park, each adventure offering its own unique brand of magic. Whether you’re seeking a quiet encounter with Ghibli’s artistry or an adventurous stroll through its iconic scenes, your love for Miyazaki’s work will guide you. Rest assured, both destinations will leave you with unforgettable memories and a deeper appreciation for the stories that have captured our hearts.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Ghibli Museum?

The Ghibli Museum is a space in Tokyo dedicated to the art and technique of animation. It provides an intimate look at the works of Studio Ghibli, featuring original artwork and exclusive short films.

What can I expect from visiting Ghibli Park?

Ghibli Park offers an outdoor adventure into the whimsical worlds of Ghibli films. Visitors can experience life-sized replicas of iconic scenes and characters, making it feel like they’ve stepped right into a Ghibli story.

How are the Ghibli Museum and Ghibli Park different?

The Ghibli Museum offers an indoor experience focused on the animation process, while Ghibli Park is an expansive outdoor area that recreates the magical settings of Ghibli films. Each provides a unique way to enjoy and appreciate the artistry behind Studio Ghibli’s works.

Can I see original Ghibli artwork at these locations?

Yes, the Ghibli Museum showcases original artwork and sketches, giving visitors insight into the studio’s creative process. Ghibli Park does not feature original artwork but instead brings the art to life in its environment.

Are the film experiences at the Ghibli Museum exclusive?

Yes, the Ghibli Museum presents exclusive short films that are not available anywhere else, providing fans with a unique viewing experience.