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OToday was one of our most special days in Japan as we visited the Ghibli Museum. Having the chance to visit this place as a Ghibli fan is really overwhelming, and part of that feeling comes from how excruciatingly difficult it is to book. 
Today was one of our most special days in Japan as we visited the Ghibli Museum. Having the chance to visit this place as a Ghibli fan is really overwhelming, and part of that feeling comes from how excruciatingly difficult it is to book. We set off early to make sure we weren't 't late for our reservation. The museum was relatively far from where we were staying and we needed to pick up our tickets from the post office first. 
When we arrived at Kichijoji station, we stopped for breakfast curry when we first arrived in Mitaka since we had time to kill and were both very hungry. It cost us around £7 for two curries, with extras and one coffee. Very cheap and really tasty and filling. This place was called C&C on the outside of the station next to a wonderful onigiri place (more about that later). 
Going to the Ghibli Museum is on so many people’s list when visiting Japan. Located in the beautiful Inokashira park in Mitaka, the surroundings of the museum are just as beautiful as the museum itself. It’s a popular spot for locals to walk their dogs too (if you love Shiba Inus you may spot a few here. I actually saw the same lady walking the same Shiba on my last two visits!). Tourists have been known to simply turn up on the day to try to get in, but unfortunately booking for the museum is a lot harder work than you might expect. 
Although tickets go on sale internationally at 10am JST on 10th of each month for the following month, you stand virtually no chance of obtaining a ticket this way. Believe me, I’ve tried before and got family to get online at silly o clock and try to book too, you’ll be waiting in a queue of thousands and thousands of people and then all spots will be full. You’ll be left sad, frustrated and tired from the adrenaline and middle-of-the-night activity. As much as the museum is open to foreign visitors, I don’t think Japan really want us to go. Much like many other booking procedures, it's very competitive, convoluted and confusing for overseas visitors. This sounds very critical, but I don't blame Japan for this and I think that's why everything is so beautiful and special here. If everyone could book easily and just turn up on the day, I'm not sure it would be so magical. 
Here's a photo of where we went for breakfast curry, in case it's your kind of thing! It's worth mentioning that the staff are very kind to tourists here too, and we didn't feel uncomfortable or out of place at all. You also order your food on a machine, which has an English function. However, not all of the options are fully translated, hence the accidental coffee I ordered, but it adds to the fun!  
James had some really fun toppings on his curry, including what looked like a deep fried cheese-spring roll, a fried egg and what appeared to be fried breaded ham. I went for pork cutlet curry with added cheese. It was so good! Plus, you couldn't get that for £3.50 at home. 
Each time we are lucky enough to take a trip to Japan we ensure to book through a proxy service. This is an unofficial way to obtain tickets as Japanese residents go to kombinis on the 10th of each month to purchase tickets for the Museum. Japan are sadly cracking down on this method of entry and are making it more difficult for Japanese residents to purchase tickets on the behalf of tourists. This means that it can be very expensive, relative to the basic entry ticket price of 1000 yen [£5.55] per adult. For two adults, we paid an eye-watering £85. In my opinion, it’s still worth the price if you’re a true Ghibli fan. It is a truly special experience to visit the museum and I’m a big fan of the fact that photography is not permitted inside the museum because it keeps the experience special for every visitor. Here's a photo of the outside, it's also very pretty! You can just about see the rooftop robot too! 
This was my third trip to the museum and I feel so lucky to see yet another of the short films, that you cannot see anywhere else in the world (except at a local annual convention at a local university, which is invitation or by application only, and not open to non-residents of Japan). Last time I was lucky to see Mei and the kitten bus, which was the perfect combination of cute and spooky, incorporating aging cat busses, ghostly Totoros and both of these characters en masse (a bit like the scene in Raymond Briggs' "The Snowman", where they go and meet up with loads of snow people, but spookier). 
The first film I watched at the museum was called “The day I Bought a Star” and I absolutely loved it. It was in Japanese, with Japanese subtitles but it was possible to get the gist of the story without being able to speak or read Japanese. However, some of the films involve no dialogue at all such as Mei and the kitten bus. No matter which film you have the chance to see, you’ll love it. Even the theatre is stunning. Upon arrival at the museum, you'll receive a theatre ticket that is a piece of film strip from a random Ghibli film and random scene. I got a great one of Howl! 
This time, we watched a short film called "A sumo wrestler's tail", about sumo wrestling mice, based on a Japanese folk tale "The Mice's Sumo Tournament". It was a very sweet and fun film to watch, and I really enjoyed it. It was James' first experience at the museum and he was blown away by the whole experience, but particularly enjoyed the time in the Saturn Theatre watching the film. It's an extremely beautiful old-school looking cinema room with beautiful decor and paintings. You can view more about the museum on the official website, here
How to get tickets to the Ghibli Museum 
If you're planning a trip to Japan and the museum is at the top of your list, read carefully! Online ticket sales open one month before, on the 10th of each month at 10am JST. At this exact time, you'll theoretically be able to book your tickets as an overseas visitor, but as mentioned above, it will be nearly impossible. On my first visit to Japan in 2019, I was pretty relaxed about the booking and tried to book on the 10th, but not at the exact time. Needless to say there were zero tickets available. Instead, I had to get a 3rd party booking that came with a guided tour of Inokashira Park and museum tickets from a website called Klook. At the time, it was relatively inexpensive at around £70 for two people (yes, museum tickets alone are only 1000 yen (£5.52) at face value so it meant the tour appeared quite expensive, even with an inflated ticket price in mind). 
When I was preparing to go for a trip in June 2023, we decided to use a proxy service. As mentioned, this is getting more expensive, and our costs in just 9 months went up from £65 in June to £85 in March for two people... just for museum tickets! This does also include delivery to your hotel for your arrival date in Japan too. However, if you send your tickets to the wrong hotel address, be prepared for a whirlwind of anxiety, confusion and museum-based panic! This happened to me this time, and it was really difficult to try to explain to the post office what had happened. The guy that obtained the tickets for us in Japan was really helpful in calling the post office and letting them know we would be coming in to collect, but the language barrier was very difficult. It took around 3 hours out of our day, and we were still unable to get our tickets. The next day, we had found our correct tracking number and went back at 7am for when the post office opened, ready with passports and tracking numbers. The person seemed to be expecting us and had our tickets ready within 60 seconds. I couldn't believe how easy it was and also felt so grateful and lucky; our museum reservation was in 3 hours time! Although this sounds really stressful and horrible, I hope it's comforting in some way that even if something goes wrong, there's still a chance you'll be able to get hold of your tickets, just make sure you have the tracking number, Google translate and your passport with you. Do remember that not all proxy services will be as kind as ours was, as in the Ts and Cs it's clear that they can't help you in this situation, but our person did and we were so grateful. 
How much is too much to pay for tickets? 
That being said, I'm not sure where I'd draw the line for museum ticket prices. If you're a Ghibli fan, don't come to Japan without trying to get some tickets, it's worth £40 or so per person to experience the museum. If you'd like to know who we use as our proxy, pop us a message via email or instagram and we will be glad to help you. When I thought my tickets were lost forever, I used a website called trip.com, where tickets alone were £75 each. They were out of stock and I was able to get a very quick refund (within 30 minutes of their 5 day window) and the online chat person was extra helpful. I do think that £75 per ticket is very steep, but if it were my only option, I'd still find a way to get the extra funds to afford it. 
After visiting the museum gift shop, we had a walk around a couple of the exhibits before visited the Straw hat cafe for some cake and to look at the goodies that we purchased. We had some fun drinks including a blue sky ice cream soda float and a coffee float. Both were really delicious and the coffee was nice and strong (needed the caffeine hit!). We shared some cake as we weren't hungry after our big breakfast! 
One opportunity not to be missed is to take a photo with the huge Laputian robot on the roof. Walk up a beautiful winding staircase and enjoy a stunning scene of objects pulled straight from Ghibli films. It’s one of the few places you’re able to take photos in the museum and will make for a great keepsake. 
Take your time walking around the museum and let yourself appreciate the work that has gone into creating the building itself. There are so many tiny details for you to discover and appreciate. The stained glass windows are also incredible, and there’s lots of them to view. Miyazaki made his vision and his ideas come to life and it truly feels as though you’re walking through scenes from his films. 
There are a series of rotating exhibitions, showing behind-the-scenes and “in the making” style materials produced by Miyazaki. There’s even a replica of his workshop with copies of his sketches and ideas. Words cannot do this place justice, and even after attending the museum three times, I could never get bored of visiting (I recently heard one person on TikTok talk about how boring the museum was, and I feel personally offended. Perhaps they were expecting some over the top, watered down tourist trap, who knows!). This time, we saw the Boy and the Heron exhibition which focused on raw drawings from the original production process. It was incredible to see. 
We originally planned to go to Inokashira Zoo, but unfortunately it's closed on Mondays. Instead, we spent some time enjoying the park and had an ice cream in the sun. 
The lady upgraded our ice cream to large because the sakura soft serve was broken - very cute, and we will hopefully go back to try that flavour too. 
The weather was so beautiful and sunny! We walked back to the station and went back to the Onigiri place next to the curry shop to get some rice balls to take back to our hotel. We got 4 rice balls to share in 4 flavours; pickled plum, egg (it had a whole egg inside that was soft and gooey, not dry and sad like ours at home), tuna mayo and pickled mustard leaves. All of the rice balls were delicious, but I particularly enjoyed the creamy tuna and the egg rice ball. Pickled mustard leaves might sound odd, but it's a really great flavour and not weird at all, you should definitely try it (I'd imagine as long as there's no dashi used in the rice ball that it's vegetarian too, maybe even vegan but I can't be sure). 
Here's a bit of a rubbish photo of the rice balls, I promise they were so tasty! All of these for 755yen (£3.99) and it's enough for two as a lighter lunch, but still filling. 
After having a bit of a rest in the room (my feet were very sore from all the walking around!), we went out to visit one of the GBL stores, and to have spicy ramen at the Afuri ramen spicy branch. We'll tell you more about this in a separate post, and I also want to add a few more photos here too, so look out for a future edit. We are also looking forward to telling you about some of the wild vending machines we stumbled across in Inokashira Park in another post! 
Quick Summary 
Value for money: 3/5 
At the ‘real price of £5.52 a ticket it’s a bargain, £42 per ticket is expensive, but totally worthwhile and it’s not worth missing out because of the price. 
Enjoyment 5/5 
It’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve had the pleasure of visiting. As long as you go into it expecting a museum and not Alton Towers, you’ll love it. 
Ease of travel 5/5 
Transport links are really great. It’s only a 10 minute walk from the station to Inokashira Park. 
Ease of booking 1/5 
Booking is ridiculous, stressful and unnecessary but so worth it! 
Thanks again for reading, we really hope our experiences have been useful, interesting or at least fun to read! 
Got any questions? Pop us a message on Instagram @IKIGAI.UK 
To finish this post, check out some of the vending machines we saw in Inokashira park! These we some of the strangest vending machines we saw during our time in Japan, which seemed juxtaposed to the calm and natural surroundings. I'd expect to see more machines like this somewhere like Shinjuku! 
Canned cakes and bread are sold in this vending machine and everything looks pretty normal until you spot the shark jerky in the bottom left. It's a surprising combination, and we didn't buy this (we were worried it would literally be shark jerky and couldn't be sure - we didn't like the idea of sharks being used for food, similar to how Japan controversially consume whale).  
If you're not afraid of spice, this vending machine might be pretty exciting. We purchased some spicy bread sticks from this vending machine and unsurprisingly, they were painfully hot! It was a unique experience, and maybe next time we will try one of the even hotter snacks (Just to be able to say we ate some and survived!).  
from this vending machine, you can grab a full hot meal! Interestingly, this is more expensive than eating in a restaurant (typically speaking!). 
See you in the next blog post! 
Laura & James 
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