We started off our second day in Tokyo with a trip to Mitaka (三鷹市) – a city just outside the 23 Central wards of Metropolitan Tokyo, about 20 minutes on the JR Chuo Line from Shinjuku Station. Mitaka is home to the Ghibli Museum (三鷹の森ジブリ美術館), which features the Japanese anime work of Studio Ghibli (株式会社スタジオジブリ, Kabushiki-gaisha Sutajio Jiburi). This museum is the main draw of why we went there, as my friend is an ardent fan of Studio Ghibli. If not for her, I probably wouldn’t even take note of this city.:P
Upon reaching Mitaka Station, we were greeted with beautiful drawings of Japanese anime.
Mitaka Station is not as crowded and busy as Shinjuku Station, and we could really feel we have gotten into the suburbs hehe. There was also a little pushcart stall selling exquisite accessories & gift items, where we bought several items later before departure.
Anyway, we proceeded to the South Exit to take the Mitaka city bus to Ghibli Museum (Fare: one-way JPY 200 purchased from the bus driver, round-trip JPY 300 purchased from the vending machine at the bus stop). It operates at 10-min intervals from 9am to 7pm. We were fortunate enough to board the Cat Bus (featured in one of Ghibli’s animes) instead of the usual red city bus. Even the interiors of the bus were full of cats (of course not the real cat!) haha.
Along the journey on the bus, I could see that it is a rather scenic route. In fact it is only about a 15-min walk along the Tamagawa Josui “Waterworks” from the Mitaka South Exit to the museum if you don’t mind walking. The bus stops right in front of the museum and this is how the entrance looks like (according to my friend, it creates the feeling of walking into their anime world):
Photograph is not permitted in the museum so I can’t share many pictures except at its entrance and outdoor spaces. The museum is not very big, but I guess for anime fans, there is already a lot to explore. Needless to say, they have a merchandise store selling all kinds of anime stuff from the works of Studio Ghibli & it was so crowded with fans grabbing everything they could lay their hands on (I gladly gave up my “right” to them & chose to sit down on 1 of the benches instead to wait for my friend to do her shopping haha). We also watched an original short animated feature from its Saturn Theater at its basement with only about 80 seats. My friend has been there a few times and she said each time the film would be different. The one we watched that day was a slow sad feature.
At the outdoor area, there is a Straw Hat Cafe, that looks cosy & beautifully decorated, which we wanted to go in & have our cakes & tea but it was full house with a long queue! What a great pity. 😦
Beside the Straw Hat Cafe is a kiosk selling hotdog buns, soup and drinks. We had a bite at the hotdog buns as we didn’t want to wait, & they were quite good – wholesome! I can’t say the same for the soup, as I can’t really appreciate Minestrone-type of soup. 😛
At the rooftop is also the iconic robot soldier in the first film created and produced by Studio Ghibli – 天空之城 (Castle in the Sky 天空の城ラピュタ). I had difficulty getting a perfect shot of the robot soldier with no obstruction as the icon was just too hot & popular with many visitors wanting to take a photo there too. One really must act fast to take a good shot here!
In total, we spent about a good 2-hours at this museum. Although I am not a Japanese anime fan, I do appreciate to some extent, the very delicate and beautiful works of the studio. It was indeed an eye-opener for me!
FYI, if you are thinking of visiting this museum, you must reserve your ticket indicating your date & time of visit (Fee: JPY 1,000 per adult) in advance (up to 1 month in advance) at a reservation machine in any of the Lawson convenience stores in Tokyo. A Japanese contact number is required when you make your ticket reservation, and it’s best that you understand some Japanese because the machine only shows Japanese instructions…… We booked our tickets on the first day we arrived through the help of a Lawson staff who could speak English (thankfully!).
Hope you will enjoy the trip there too! 😀