The Magic of Studio Ghibli

Japan

Fellow fans know the little jump our hearts make when faced with anything related to Studio Ghibli. In Tokyo, the animated worlds of Chihiro, Howl, and Ponyo come to life from page to screen at the Studio Ghibli Museum. Hoard an armful of Totoro plushies for a rainy day to bring a piece of childlike wonder back home. The famed founders, Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata, have built a legacy that has won awards and the hearts of children all over the world. Characters like Princess Mononoke, Kiki, and Chihiro are strong yet flawed heroines who take control of their lives. We eat with them, we fly with them, and we cry with them. They’ve brought us into their world in the film; now, it’s our turn to bring them into our world!

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Updated a year ago

Studio Ghibli Corporate Office

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Kamirenjaku, Japan • Recommendation • 

The eye of the storm, the Ground Zero of the animated films (a.k.a. The Studio Ghibli Corporate Office) is located in a suburban neighborhood of Tokyo called Koganei. You won’t be able to enter the office, as it might disrupt the magic at work within. Seeing the ivy-covered house is enough to stir excitement, though. Make sure to snap a few fan-approved photos! The company plaque out front, in between two trees, is nearly hidden so keep an eye out for the “スタジオジブリ Studio Ghibli” sign emerging from the shrubs. The neighborhood is quiet, with little shops sprinkled among the private homes. Tread along the paths frequented by director Miyazaki himself...

  • 1-4-25 Kajino-cho, Koganei, Tokyo, Japan

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Edo Tokyo Open-Air Architectural Museum

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Nishi-Tokyo-shi, Japan • Recommendation • 

…on the way to a museum that inspired much of his work! Edo Tokyo Open-Air Architectural Museum is a part of Koganei Park strewn with buildings from the Edo (1603-1868), Meiji (1868-1912), Taishō (1912-1926), and Shōwa (1926-1989) periods. Follow in Chihiro’s footsteps toward the Kodakara-yu bathhouse, believed to inspire Spirited Away (2001) and let your imagination run wild! Upper-class homes stand proudly by humble farmhouses. Colorful shingles crown buildings filled with tatami rooms and paper windows. An earth-bound spirit might just be waiting right around the corner!

  • +81423883300
  • Kogane Park, 3-7-1 Sakuracho, Koganei, Tokyo, Japan

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Seiseki-sakuragaoka Station

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Hino, Japan • Recommendation • 

Head south to Seiseki-Sakuragaoka Station where trains bring tourists and home-bound locals to the town of Tama. Continue a tour of the Tokyo corners that inspired Miyazaki with a stroll through the streets that made it into “Whisper of the Heart.” The pilgrimage through Shizuku and Seiji’s story starts the moment you take the Keio train into the station—it’s a spitting image from the film! An information board right outside the station maps out Shizuku and Seiji’s story. The map is in Japanese, but you’ll be looking for “Irohazakadōri Street (いろは坂通り),” the bridge leading up to it over the Okuri River and Kumano Jinja Shrine. The film is so faithful to the town that an aimless bike ride over the hills reveals many locations!

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Ghibli Museum

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Kamirenjaku, Japan • Recommendation • 

The enchanting worlds of Studio Ghibli are just as beloved as the characters in them. That is why Totoro, the cartoon raccoon spirit, is the first to greet visitors of the Ghibli Museum! Art stills and memorabilia fill the halls, ushering guests through the animation process that brought the films to life. Tots and tykes can climb on top of the fluffy Cat Bus before catching one of the black Soot Sprites. Recharge on the lush rooftop garden beside the Robot Soldier that watches over the museum. Tickets are hard to come by, running out months in advance, but every moment inside is worth the effort. Book through a travel bureau (for tourists) or Lawson’s convenience stores (for locals).

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The Ghibli Clock

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Tokyo, Japan • Recommendation • 

There are still plenty of Studio Ghibli attractions around Tokyo for those who aren’t fortunate enough to get tickets to the Ghibli Museum. The Ghibli Clock is a steampunk-style installation designed by Miyazaki himself. A rust-colored clock face emerges from the sleek and shiny Nittele Tower of Shiodome where tin men come to life in their metal workshops, setting out to work as music chimes. Drop by a few moments before noon, 3:00PM, 6:00PM, and 8:00PM every day to catch the whole show. On weekends there’s an extra 10:00AM show as well. At night, the clock lights up, making it all a bit more captivating.

  • Nittele Tower, 1 Chome-6-1 Higashishinbashi, Tokyo, Japan

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Shiro-Hige's Cream Puff Factory

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Tokyo, Japan • Recommendation • 

After a day on the town, chasing after Ghibli-inspired places, refuel at Shiro-Hige’s Cream Puff Factory! The Little Totoro cream puffs are their bestseller. You could say they ooze with charm! Take a bite and Chocolate-, Strawberry-, or Banana Caramel-flavored cream coats your mouth with sweetness. Green Tea, Melon, or Peach flavors are also available for the quirkier palate. Just remember, don’t play with your food!

  • +81357876221
  • 5-3-1 Daita, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo, Japan
    東京都世田谷区代田5-3-1

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Kiddy Land (Harajuku)

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Tokyo, Japan • Recommendation • 

Save the playing for Kiddy Land Harajuku. An army of fluffy Totoros awaits at the fun-filled shelves of the store. They carry merchandise from Disney to Sanrio for the kids and kids-at-heart. You can shop for your friends or buy it all for yourself—we won’t tell on you! The cashier lines are quite long, but quick-moving, as they offer products found only in Japan.

  • +81334093431
  • 6-1-9 Jingu-mae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, Japan
    〒150-0001 東京都渋谷区神宮前6-1-9

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Donguri Kwoyakoku (Tokyo SkyTree Town Solamachi)

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Urayasu, Japan • Recommendation • 

Donguri Republic has many more options for the discerning Studio Ghibli Fan. Decorate your forest-inspired room with little Kodama (the white forest spirits in “Princess Mononoke”). Grow plants for Totoro to watch over diligently. There is so much more, from character plushies and figurines to cooking utensils and bedroom slippers. Any item in Donguri Republic’s collection can add a dash of magic to your life!

  • +81356105299
  • 2nd Floor, Tokyo SkyTree Town Solamachi, 1 Chome-1-2 Oshiage, Sumida, Tokyo, Japan

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About Japan

Opposites attract in Japan—ancient traditions fuse with advanced technology while minimalism meets kitsch

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