Ghibli grief: What to do if you can’t get Ghibli Museum tickets

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Everybody loves the wonderful world of Studio Ghibli, and accordingly – everybody who visits Japan wants to get a little piece of the Ghibli action with a visit to the Studio Ghibli Museum. Unfortunately, this is getting harder and harder as tickets sell out ever faster, and restrictions are made tighter to prevent touts selling them on at inflated prices (yep, it’s that popular).

You can’t blame Ghibli for any of this, mind. From the museum’s inception it has been very ethically minded, and its reasons for tightening restrictions are to keep tickets affordable for its fans. When you think that they could easily be raking in the big bucks in the style of Disneyland et al, it’s a very commendable stance to take.

So the bottom line is, you can still get tickets to the Ghibli Museum – but nothing is guaranteed.

What if I don’t get a ticket?

If you’ve come up empty-handed – what are your other options?

Well, if you’re a bona fide, die-hard Ghibli fan and nothing but the real deal will do, have a look at this blog post about Ghibli locations across Japan.

Studio Ghibli at Roppongi Hills

If you’re travelling to Japan between the 7th of July and the 11th of September 2016, you’re in luck. Throughout this period, Tokyo’s Roppongi Hills will be hosting a Studio Ghibli exhibition packed with paraphernalia from the films of the past 30 years, including drawings, posters, proposals and all kinds of material giving you an insight into the workings of the anime masters. There will also be exhibits relating to Ghibli’s newest film, The Red Turtle, so you can get a sneak peek at what the studio has been working on!

At the Ghibli Museum
At the Ghibli Museum

Meanwhile, if you’re not a Ghibli purist and are just in search of a little pop culture magic in Tokyo, there are lots of fantastic experiences that we can suggest as alternatives. Read on…

Take a video game day tour

There is perhaps nothing that has brought Japanese pop culture to younger generations in the West than video games. Some of the most groundbreaking innovations in gaming have come from Japan’s great giants – the likes of Nintendo, Sega, Sony, Namco, Capcom, and more – and there is barely a house in the Western world that hasn’t possessed a Japanese-made games console at some point in time.

Today, Tokyo is still a Mecca for gamers – but you don’t have to be an insider to enjoy getting to know the plethora of game stores, multi-storey arcades and video game cafés the city has to offer. Our full-day video game tour was designed by Brett, our resident gaming expert, taking in all his favourite gaming haunts – from famous must-visit locations like Joypolis to hidden, retro spots.

Read more about our gaming tour from Mike Reddy, one of our Tokyo-based tour leaders.

Brett leading a video game tour of Tokyo
Brett leading a video game tour of Tokyo

Visit a themed restaurant

Tokyo is practically alive with themed restaurants catering to every proclivity you could possibly imagine – from poo to Catholicism. Some of them fantastic, and some of them decidedly dodgy – and you can read more about them here.

These are our favourites, all of them located in Tokyo:

Final Fantasy Café

If you’re a fan of the immersive Final Fantasy franchise, don’t miss the awesome Eorzea Final Fantasy Café. It’s modelled on the Carline Canopy (the in-game location from Final Fantasy XIV, as any fan will surely recognise), is decorated with props and weapons from the franchise, and has computers set up for customers to play Final Fantasy. The FF-themed food and drinks aren’t cheap, but they are good – which is more than can be said for some of the locations on this list.

Kawaii Monster Café

It’s not anime or video game themed, but the latest offering from Japan’s themed dining scene is certainly an interesting look into the world of quirky Japanese pop culture. Our travel consultant, Ali, visited recently and described it as Harajuku meets Willy Wonka meets Alice in Wonderland. Keep your eyes peeled for her review as it’ll be on the blog soon! Read more here.

Kawaii Monster Cafe
Kawaii Monster Cafe

Robot Restaurant

The Robot Restaurant has become something of a fixture on Tokyo’s theme restaurant scene – and for good reason. It would be fairer to call it a “robot cabaret” than a restaurant as the food is dire, but what a show! Flashing lights, giant fembots, bikini-clad girls, dinosaurs, sharks, neon tanks… no words can describe it, and no photos can capture it. You need to experience it to understand!

Read more about it from tour leader David here.

Robot Restaurant: Bring your sunglasses
The Robot Restaurant: Bring your sunglasses

Ninja Restaurant

As the name suggests, the Ninja Restaurant in Akasaka celebrates all things shinobi (ninja). Entering via a shadowy, half-hidden doorway, you’ll sent off through a dimly lit corridor – or “ninja training passage” – where you’ll have to survive several booby traps and discover secret doors to enter the restaurant. Once inside, you’ll be kept entertained by ninja magic tricks, and enjoy ninja-themed (and actually really delicious) food.

Travel consultant Amy tried it out – read her review here.

One Piece Restaurant

The last themed restaurant on our list, One Piece Restaurant Baratie is located on Tokyo’s futuristic Odaiba Island – also home to Tokyo’s life-size Gundam Wing Suit, which is always worth a visit! For those who don’t know, One Piece is a phenomenally popular anime and manga cartoon based around the escapades of the Straw Hat Pirates.

Fujiko Doraemon Museum

If you’re interested in getting to grips with one of Japan’s classic manga serialisations, the Fujiko Doraemon Museum is an excellent option. Doraemon is a mechanical cat who travels back in time from the 22nd century to help a young boy in the present, and the series was first published in 1969. Doraemon remains popular today, and you’ll see his likeness plastered across all kinds of goods in Japan.

Doraemon was created by the writing duo Fujiko Fujio, and the museum is dedicated to one half of the pairing: Fujiko F. Fujio (real name Hiroshi Fujimoto). The museum features a wide range of characters from the Doraemon series and other Fujiko cartoons, a recreation of Fujio’s studio, a collection of his books and cameras, a theatre showing cartoons, and a huge collection of original drawings and memorabilia.

J-World Tokyo

J-World is an indoor theme park based around Shonen Jump, one of Japan’s most popular manga anthologies, which boasts some of the world’s most popular manga titles – including Dragonball Z, One Piece, Naruto and Bleach. Inside the park you’ll have the chance to immerse yourself in virtual reality games, become a Super Saiyan, take a One-Piece-themed spin ride and walk through a ninja maze, amongst various other attractions. All the rides and games are in Japanese, but there is an English guidebook available that will tell you how to play them.

Become a Super Saiyan at J-World
Become a Super Saiyan at J-World

One Piece Tower

One of Tokyo’s more recent anime & manga offerings, One Piece Tower is another theme park, opened in March 2015. The park is arranged into areas according to character, so in one section you can explore Brook’s horror house while in another you can visit Nami’s casino or have a sword battle with Zoro.

These are just a few of the pop culture options that Tokyo has to offer – talk to one of our travel consultants if you’d like to find out more, or if you have your own anime bucket list you’d like to make reality. Take a look at our Manga & Anime itinerary for more ideas. The wonderful world of Japanese pop culture awaits!

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