Chances are you’re familiar with Studio Ghibli, the studio behind famous anime feature films including Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke. The world of Ghibli is a compellingly magical one, its beautiful depictions of society and nature drawing people in from all over the world. We can only wish we could step into a Ghibli film in person.
Yet you can actually do that here in Tokyo, where there are wisps of opportunities in the city to experience the real charm of Ghibli’s world.
Shiro-Hige’s Cream Puff Factory
One of the most recognizable icons of Ghibli has to be Totoro, the gentle forest spirit from the film My Neighbor Totoro and the mascot that appears in the studio’s logo itself. You can now meet Totoro in cream puff form, exquisitely made at Shiro-Hige’s Cream Puff Factory. Baked by an enigmatic old patissier with white hair, the cream puffs take on the shape of Totoro in various seasons. The various accessories, from hats to the signature leaf, indicate each of the many flavors made. The Cream Puff Factory is nestled in a quiet, leafy pocket of Setagaya-ku, making visitors feel like they’re truly exploring a forest in search of Totoro.
Address: Daita 5-3-1, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo
Baby King Kitchen
One of the famous charms of Ghibli films is their food presentation. They may be two-dimensional, but they have an uncanny ability to make food look extra delicious on screen. Baby King Kitchen, a vibrant cafe in Koenji, serves a Ghibli-themed menu where you can order food that you’ve seen before in classic Ghibli movies. If you’ve ever wanted to eat the fried eggs and bacon cooked by Calcifer in Howl’s Moving Castle, the fluffy ham and cheese sandwich Ponyo loved to eat, or Grandma’s carrot pie and hotcakes from Kiki’s Delivery Service, you can fulfil all your Ghibli-inspired culinary dreams right here. You even get the Kiki’s black cat Jiji on the side if you order hotcakes!
Address: Koenji-kita 3-2-15, Suginami-ku, Tokyo
The Cat Returns cookies
The Cat Returns may be one of the lesser known Ghibli films, but the humble story about a girl who gets whisked away to a kingdom of cats is one that gently settles in the heart of viewers. The heroine’s relationship with cats goes back a long time to her childhood, when she first shared a box of fish-shaped cookies with a hungry kitten. The fish-shaped cookies tie the beginning and end of the film together as a subtle symbol of generosity and gratitude. These cookies can be found at a shop in Koenji called MYNT, which also appeared in the film itself. Fans would be delighted to find this quiet piece of Ghibli history sitting inconspicuously along the street.
Address: Umezato 2-11-12, Suginami-ku, Tokyo
Spirited Away’s inspiration
The fantasy world of Spirited Away leaps out of the screen with its enchanting cast of otherworldly characters and traditional Japanese landscapes, merged together in an exciting spectacle. This is the most internationally famous of director Hayao Miyazaki’s works, and fans have come to Japan in search of places recognizable from the film. One of them is right here in Tokyo—the Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum was one place that inspired Miyazaki. The recreation of the old street here bears a strong resemblance to the town that Chihiro visits in Spirited Away. Its traditional atmosphere and retro architecture certainly brings to mind the nostalgia and mystery of the film.
Address: 1-4-1 Yokoami, Sumida, Tokyo
Last but not least, the Ghibli Museum is where you can breathe in the very essence of Studio Ghibli itself. The official museum brings together the works of the studio in the most distinctively Ghibli way possible, giving fans the complete experience of their history and unique character. The building is surrounded by rich nature, and inside is a treasure chest of everything Ghibli. In order to preserve the surprise for new visitors, photos are not permitted inside the museum apart from a space on the rooftop where the giant robot from Laputa: Castle in the Sky stands as it watches over the museum. Don’t forget to visit the cafe, where you’ll feel like you’re dining in a Ghibli film itself.
Address: 1-1-83 Shimorenjaku, Mitaka, Tokyo
Whether you’re a Ghibli fan or simply interested, each of these locations will make you fall in love with the moment of discovery as you explore each place.
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