We made a day trip out to the western suburbs of Tokyo to see the Ghibli Museum. Only one of the daughters was a true fan, but it was such a charming place that we all had a good time.
All most of the travel directions steer you to Mitaka Station, it is actually equidistant from Mitaka and Kichioji, and so we elected to use Kichioji, which turned out to be great. Kichioji is an interesting neighbourhood with a formerly bohemian reputation within Tokyo. Walking south from the station, I see that it has clearly gone upmarket, with LLBean and Eddie Bauer stores within a block of each other; go figure. If you want to see lots of stores, take the south exit from the station, go down a narrow street, cross at the light and jog over to the right. If you want more peace, just keep going south. In either case, you will hit Inokashira Park within a few blocks, and then you can make your way southwest to the museum. A very pleasant stroll on a sunny day.
My favourite parts of the museum were the second floor recreations of Miyazaki’s studio and workshop, both of which were stacked with books, technical drawings, and photo albums that provide all the points of reference for the intricately imagined worlds in each of his films. I wish that I had been able to read Japanese as there were no explanations in English, but absent any language, you can see the degree of work and creativity that is put into each of his films.
Our tickets were for 12 noon, so we pretty much knew that it would be hopeless to get into the Straw Hat Cafe, so we got snacks from the hot dog stand. I couldn’t resist their private label beer.
If you are really determined to eat at the cafe, I’d get tickets for 10 am, go through the museum for an hour or so, and then have an early lunch. During our entire visit, there were at least 10-15 people seated waiting to get in.
We spent two blissful hours there, and then had a nice walk back to the park to the station.