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Japan’s Studio Ghibli Theme Park has finally opened in Aichi Prefecture! Through the attraction, guests can enter the idyllic worlds created by Hayao Miyazaki.

While there are no dark rides or roller coasters, the park more than makes up for it in immersion and a wonderful natural experience with sustainability in mind.

“It is a park, not an amusement park. The whole idea was to harmonize with and improve the existing park and its nature.” It is a “hybrid park” built around existing public space, in order to minimize harm to the environment. Talk about sustainability!

In fact, Studio Ghibli’s films often touch on nature and environmentalism, with the films often featuring lush grasslands and verdant forests. Ghibli’s films are also known for their warm, comforting and indulgent depictions of food – where cuisine functions as a character of its own and a beautiful cinematic element that draws the viewer in.

You’ll be happy to know that the theme park has both nature and food in spades! Securing tickets for the Ghibli Museum can be a challenge due to its immense popularity. It’s recommended to book well in advance to ensure a spot on your desired date.

Here are the best things to do in Japan’s Studio so that you can include it in your next visit to Japan! 

1. Explore Ghibli’s Grand Warehouse

Image Credit: The Guardian

The park’s main attraction is Ghibli’s Grand Warehouse, a large mega exhibit filled with set pieces that recreate iconic moments from the films.

For example, you can visit the Sky Garden from Studio Ghibli’s first film: “Castle in the Sky” and take in the splendor of the iconic airship from in all its steampunk glory! 

Image Credit: Washington Post

This recreation of the office in “From Up on Poppy Hill” is lived-in and homey, yet gorgeous in its details. Enjoy all this and more in Ghibli’s Grand Warehouse!

Ghibli Theme Park
Image Credit: Washington Post

2. A Journey into the Spirit World: Spirited Away

Spirited Away
Image credit - Best Japanese

Yubaba’s Office from Spirited Away in the Grand Warehouse – Tokyo

At the heart of Tokyo’s Ghibli Theme Park, visitors are transported into the fantastical realm of Spirited Away through the exquisitely detailed recreation of Yubaba’s office. This central attraction embodies the charm of Studio Ghibli Films Japan. It further completes with the iconic film’s intricate designs of every setting from the film. The park serves as a tribute to the storied heritage of Studio Ghibli’s cinematic masterpieces, offering an array of immersive experiences.

Guests have the unique opportunity to mingle with the animated characters, revisit the film’s unforgettable moments, and savor the whimsical dishes served at the bathhouse’s restaurant, reminiscent of the movie’s magical feasts.

Ride the train with No Face

Spirited Away - No face
Image credit - Best Japanese

Stumble into the Spirit World through a perfect recreation of the iconic scene from Spirited Away! From the velvety train seats to the packages and handrails, this set piece will make you feel like you are traveling through the world of Spirited Away with the lovable No Face!

In fact, it is considered one of the best scenes in all of film history! Considering that it won Best Animated Picture and is the most famous animated film from Japan, it is no surprise that this scene was recreated for the theme park. 

YouTube video

3. Step into the Enchanting World of Totoro

Within the confines of the Ghibli Theme Park is the world of Totoro which stands as a heartfelt homage to the cherished classic, My Neighbor Totoro, from Studio Ghibli Japan. This endearing attraction has touched the hearts of audiences worldwide with its charming characters and heartwarming story.

Visit the Dondoko Forest

Totoro - Dondoko Forest
Image Credit: MANILA BULLETIN

Through swathes of trees and shrubbery, you will see the entrance to Dondoko Forest! The area is largely themed around the adorable creatures in “My Neighbor Totoro,” one of Studio Ghibli’s most famous and comforting films.

Here, acorns line the walking paths where guests walk on as they enter the magical forest featured in the movie. Little soot sprites and small easter eggs are also visible, so watch out for all the hidden details!

The Totoro Bar Experience

Totoro Bar
Image credit - Best Japanese

Step into the enchanting realm of the Totoro Bar, where a rustic wooden countertop and the iconic, wide-eyed Totoro await to transport you into a Studio Ghibli-inspired fantasy. This magical bar, reminiscent of the Ghibli Museum’s charming setting, invites you to a unique experience where nostalgia and wonder blend seamlessly. As Totoro greets you with a silent nod, you’ll find yourself immersed in a captivating dream, making the Totoro Bar a must-visit destination for fans and newcomers alike.

Enter the Catbus

Totoro- Central Stairs to the Cat Bus ride
Image credit - Best Japanese

Ascend the central stairs at Ghibli Park, marked by the whimsical neko sign, and find yourself face-to-face with the delightful Cat Bus. 

My Neighbor Totoro - Cat bus
Image credit - Best Japanese

Aboard life-sized Catbus in the Dondoko Forest section Tokyo’s Ghibli Park. A real-life rendition of the iconic character from My Neighbor Totoro. This furry, friendly shuttle whisks visitors along a scenic 1.9km path, connecting the enchanting Mononoke Village to the lively Dondoko Forest. With plush seats and eyes that light up, the Cat Bus offers a cozy ride straight out of the beloved film, making it a top attraction for Ghibli enthusiasts and families. 

Image Credit: ShotasPOV

Make sure to look out for this neko sign such that you don’t miss the Cat Bus!

Image Credit: LiveJapan

Hunt for Soot Sprites in Satsuki and Mei’s House

Image Credit: Washington Post

You can step into the shoes of “My Neighbor Totoro’s” protagonists Satsuki and Mei as you enter their house. Further search for the elusive soot sprites within the perfectly replicated house of the sisters. Every detail, from the charming Totoro-inspired attire to the house’s nostalgic and fanciful design, is a faithful tribute to the beloved film.

The park’s life-sized recreation of the girls’ house is perfect: down to the adorable Totoro-themed clothes and its nostalgic whimsical aesthetic. 

4. Experience the Magic of Pom Poko

Ghibli Grand Warehouse - Pom Poko
Image credit - Best Japanese

As you wander through the lush pathways of the park, you’ll find yourself in the midst of the playful tanuki from the beloved film Pom Poko. These mischievous raccoon dogs, known for their shape-shifting antics, are ready to whisk you away on an adventure filled with laughter and joy.

Don’t miss the chance to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Pom Poko at the Studio Ghibli Fest 2024. It’s a milestone that brings together fans from around the globe, united by their love for the tanuki’s tale of resilience and harmony with nature.

5.  Unravel the Mystery: When Marnie Was There

When Marnie was there
Image credit - Best Japanese

You will also find the setting from the beautiful tale of When Marnie Was There at the magical Ghibli Theme Park in Tokyo. This beloved Studio Ghibli masterpiece has been brought to life in a way that will stir your soul and ignite your imagination.

As you enter the park, the air is filled with the sweet whispers of the past, beckoning you to explore the mysterious world of Marnie. The path leads you to a recreation of the Marsh House, where the boundary between reality and memory blurs. Further inviting you to uncover the secrets held within its walls.

Celebrate the 10th anniversary of When Marnie Was There at the Studio Ghibli Fest, where fans can connect with the story like never before. Engage with interactive exhibits that allow you to step into Anna’s shoes, reliving her summer of discovery and friendship with the ethereal Marnie.

6. Soar High with Porco Rosso

Porco Rosso
Image credit - Best Japanese

As you step into another setting of the park, you will find yourself in the spirit of the 1920s aviation hero. The hero not only greets you but inviting you to relive his daring escapades. The park’s design pays homage to the classic film, with attractions that let you feel the wind beneath the wings of Porco’s beloved seaplane.

At the heart of the park, find yourself mesmerized by the Crimson Pig’s Hideaway, a replica of Porco’s secret island lair. It’s a place where you can lounge like the laid-back ace pilot, surrounded by the sounds of jazz and the scent of the sea.

7. Join Ponyo’s Seaside Escapades at Ghibli Theme Park

Ponyo
Image credit - Best Japanese

Splash into a sea of adventure, as you enter the park, be greeted by the iconic scene of Ponyo running atop the waves. It brought to life in a stunning display that captures the essence of the film’s poetic tribute to the forces of nature. The little fish-girl’s dream of becoming human resonates throughout the park, inviting visitors of all ages to explore her wondrous underwater world. Celebrate the timeless tale of friendship and wonder as you discover the many attractions inspired by Ponyo and her aquatic escapades. From the Hill of Youth to the Valley of Witches, each area of Ghibli Theme Park is infused with the charm and whimsy of Studio Ghibli’s creations.

8. Visit Transcontinental Flight Cafe

Image Credit: Sora News

Transcontinental Flight Cafe is one of the restaurants in the theme park. It serves several types of sandwiches such as BLT or ham and cheese pictured above! The meals come with little flags that contain scenes from the movies, drawn by Miyazaki himself. For dessert you will find some delicious fruit and banana chocolate dessert cream sandwiches. 

Furthermore, Hayao Miyazaki’s son Goro has a favorite treat from the menu – the Neopolitan pasta sandwich. Considering he is the lead planner for the park, it definitely sounds like a must-try! 

Unfortunately, the cafe does not make the exact foods from the films. So if you’re looking to eat the bacon and egg breakfast from “Howl’s Moving Castle” or the scrumptious egg ramen from “Ponyo,” you’ll need to go elsewhere. 

Thankfully, an izakaya chain called Donan Norin Suisanbu serves perfect recreations of Studio Ghibli Food. Just like the theme park, it is also located in the Aichi Prefecture. Sweet!

9. Visit the Food Exhibit

You can count on the Studio Ghibli Theme Park to have an exhibit on food! Inside Ghibli’s Grand Warehouse is an exhibit entitled “Taberu wo kaku,” which means “Drawing Eating.” This is an expanded version of the food exhibit viewable in the Ghibli Museum in Tokyo!

Image Credit: Washington Post
Image Credit: Washington Post

Look at those gorgeous eggs, pancakes, and chocolate cakes with melting butter and garnish! Studio Ghibli’s mouthwatering replica dishes from the films are on full display here. 

Image Credit: LiveJapan

For more Studio Ghibli food content, check out this video below, featuring all of the foods across the films.

YouTube video

10. Buy Souvenirs

Dondoko Forest also has Omamori to protect you from bad luck! Make sure to stop by the souvenir shop if you want to bring home some keepsakes from your trip here.

There are plenty of other souvenirs to watch out for in the park, such as vintage candy (rarely being sold nowadays) to little toy capsules from gachapon machines.

11. Watch animations in the warehouse

If you need a break from exploring, just find the large yellow building that says “Cinema Orion.” Inside, you can enter the video exhibition room and watch animated short films by Studio Ghibli!

12. Visit the Hill of Youth

Hill of the Youth

The Hill of Youth is the theme park’s third land, which contains European-style brick buildings and a steampunk-esque elevator tower from “Castle in the Sky.”

Three of the park’s lands are currently open for visits, but there are two more currently in development: Mononoke Village and a seaside town based on Kiki’s Delivery Service! More reasons to revisit this whimsical park in the future. 

We hope you enjoyed this list as much as we enjoyed making it. 

FAQs on the Ghibli Theme Park

1: Can international visitors easily access the Ghibli Theme Park in Japan? 

A: Absolutely! Located in Aichi Prefecture, the park is a convenient excursion for travelers. With clear signage and accessible transportation options, Studio Ghibli’s enchanting world is within easy reach for fans from around the globe.

2: What should first-time visitors not miss at the Ghibli Theme Park? 

A: First-timers should make a beeline for Ghibli’s Grand Warehouse, where iconic scenes from the films are brought to life. Don’t miss the chance to ride the train with No Face or hunt for Soot Sprites in Satsuki and Mei’s House.

3: How does the Ghibli Theme Park embody the spirit of Studio Ghibli’s films? 

A: The park captures the essence of Studio Ghibli’s storytelling, with a focus on harmony with nature and intricate attention to detail. It’s a living tribute to the studio’s legacy, offering a tangible connection to the themes and artistry of its films.

4: What dining experiences are available at the Ghibli Theme Park? 

A: Visitors can indulge in a variety of dining options that evoke the culinary delights seen in Ghibli films. While the exact dishes from the movies aren’t replicated, the park offers a taste of the whimsy and charm that Ghibli fans adore.

5: Is the Ghibli Theme Park suitable for visitors of all ages? 

A: Yes, the park welcomes Ghibli enthusiasts of all ages. With its gentle attractions and serene landscapes, it’s a family-friendly destination that transcends generations.

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About Aaron Ang

Aaron is a 20-year old college student who loves Pokemon, video games. and kpop (especially Twice and Loona!) He writes articles about East Asian culture and makes commentaries on pop culture. When not writing, he practices kpop dance routines or hangs out on Discord. His dream is to work at Disney or Nintendo one day!