The Ghibli Muesum in Mitaka (a short train ride from central Tokyo) is a fascinating visit for any fan of the studios animation.
Several floors of beautifully themed rooms provide a glimpse into the minds of the creators, and almost a step into a completely different world - a place where 'quaint' rules all.
There are hands on and play activities for children (and not easily embarrassed adults), including the wonderful 'cat bus' room, containing a large soft cat bus, complete with piles of little black dust bunnies.
Original short animations are also shown, a great day out for everyone!
The most difficult part of the Ghibli experience is actually getting tickets.
For those of you in Japan you should go to your nearest Lawson store and use the loppi machine.
This is only in Japanese, however the Lawson website has a handy guide on how to purchase Ghibli tickets.
Contrary to popular belief, you can buy tickets from outside of Japan. The Ghibli official website has instructions on how to do this: find your home country and follow the links. Here is a link for those wanting to buy tickets from the UK.
When you purchase your ticket you must choose the date, and time slot (am or pm). After payment the date and time cannot be changed.
All tickets, from inside or outside of Japan, go on sale three months before the date, but tickets (especially for the weekend and national holidays) sell out very fast.
Cost is 1000yen for adults and 400 for children aged 4-12. A mere 100 for under 4s. All three of these prices are a stunning bargain.
It's well worth the money, even just for the fact that the ticket is an actual projector slide from one of the movies (awarded at random).
The museum is closed every Tuesday (except July 26, August 16th 2011 and January 3rd and March 20th 2012).
The museum is also closed for new year and maintenance, the 2011-2012 schedule is as follows.
23 May - 3 June 2011
8 - 18 November 2011
New Year Holidays: 27 December 2011-2 January 2012
The museum is located in Mitaka, about 20 minutes from Shinjuku on the JR chuo line.
From Mitaka it is either a short walk to the museum or a 200 yen single 300 yen return trip on the Totoro bus.... you really can't miss it!
You can purchase bus tickets from the vending machine by the bus stop.
There's a book shop and gift shop, both worth a visit (but be prepared to part with cash), and the 'straw hat restaurant'. The resturant tends to get incredibly crowded anytime after 11.30am, so it's worth having an early lunch and seeing the rest of the museum after eating.
There is also a rooftop garden with the famous robot from Laputa towering above.
Photography is not allowed in the museum, but as the museum website nicely puts it:
The Ghibli Museum is a portal to a storybook world. As the main character in a story, we ask that you experience the Museum space with your own eyes and senses, instead of through a camera's viewfinder. We ask that you make what you experienced in the Museum the special memory that you take home with you.