Immerse yourself in the magic of Ghibli at the Ghibli Park
Lots and lots of photo opportunities!
· 6 min read
If you're a fan of Studio Ghibli, then Ghibli Park is the ultimate destination for you. Located in Nagoya (between Tokyo and Osaka), this magical theme park brings to life the enchanting world of Hayao Miyazaki's beloved films. From breathtaking attractions and delicious food to exclusive merchandise and stunning architecture, Ghibli Park offers a truly immersive experience for visitors of all ages.
Ghibli Park vs Ghibli Museum
Not to be confused with the Ghibli Museum in Tokyo, Ghibli Park is a new attraction that only opened in Nagoya in November 2022.
The Ghibli Museum in Tokyo is smaller, and focuses a lot more on the behind-the-scenes of the works from Ghibli Studio — a must-visit if you are a Ghibli fan and wanted to learn more about the intricacies of the animations. The Ghibli Museum can be easily covered in half a day, and its close proximity to Tokyo makes it a very popular half-day trip. Unfortunately, the tickets are also notoriously hard to get.
In comparison, tickets to the Ghibli Park are much easier to obtain, although it is still recommended that you get them early. Unlike Ghibli Museum which focuses on the making of the animations, the Ghibli Park has a stronger focus on photo spots. Scenes from the animations are recreated in the park, providing for great backdrops for photos. You will feel like you walked into the animation, and the entire experience is much more immersive. However, Ghibli Park is much less accessible, where you would still need to travel an hour from Nagoya station.
TL;DR: The Ghibli Museum would likely appeal more to huge fans of Ghibli who wanted to learn more about the history and behind-the scenes; but if you were just a casual fan and wanted to take really pretty photos, you might enjoy the park better - though you might also want to factor in the time taken to travel to the park!
Exploring the Magic of Ghibli Park
In case you were wondering, the Ghibli Park doesn't have any thrilling rides or anything of that sort, albeit it being called a theme park. Instead, it focuses on recreating scenes from the Ghibli movies, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in a world of Ghibli. As you explore the park, you'll find yourself immersed in a world of enchantment. The air is filled with a sense of wonder as you walk through the lush greenery and vibrant flowers that surround you. The park's landscape has been carefully crafted to transport visitors into the magical realms depicted in Studio Ghibli's films.
Ghibli Park Areas
The theme park has a total of five areas, each having a different theme. Only three of these areas are currently opened, and the remaining two areas are planned for a November 2023 and March 2024 opening. Note that the areas are not joined together, but are spread across the Expo 2005 Aichi Commemorative Park; and tickets to the different areas have to be purchased separately.
- Ghibli's Grand Warehouse (currently open)
- Hill of Youth (currently open)
- Dondoko Forest (currently open)
- Mononoke Village (opening November 1st 2023)
- Valley of Witches (opening March 16th 2024)
Ghibli's Grand Warehouse
Ghibli’s Grand Warehouse is the main attraction, and if you can only visit one area, this is no doubt the one you should visit. It’s the biggest area at the moment, so you’ll easily spend most of your time here. It is recommended to cater at least 2 to 3 hours here.
In the Grand Warehouse, you will be able to find recreation of scenes from classics like Spirited Away, Arriety, and Castle in the Sky. Note that the queues to take photos could be long, so you might have to make some painful decisions of which queues to join and which to give up. There are also other timed exhibits that you could check out while you are there.
The warehouse also has a screening room, which screens animated shorts by Studio Ghibli. These animated shorts were previously only exclusively available at the Ghibli Museum, and the film changes every mont - be sure to check out the screening timetable if you want to catch it.
Take your time to explore the Ghibli’s Grand Warehouse and pick up some photo opportunities! You’re sure to recognise some of the characters and references, even if you are just a casual Ghibli fan. Play areas are also available, making it good for families with younger children.
Hill of Youth
Hill of Youth features the World Emporium from Whispers of the Heart and the Cat Bureau from The Cat Returns. There is also a rotary, a recreation of the roundabout from the town square from Whisper of the Heart. The area also features the iconic Elevator Tower that had appeared in the Castle in the Sky and Howl's Moving Castle films.
The Hill of Youth is much smaller than the Grand Warehouse, and things could get a little cramped. It is also likely to appeal more to bigger Ghibli fans.
If you are a fan of My Neighbour Totoro, then you probably don't want to miss Dondoko Forest. Here, you will be able to find the Japanese-Western style house that Satsuki and Mei moved to in My Neighbor Totoro. There is a kitchen, bathroom, sitting room, bedroom, study and more. Inside their house you can almost hear Satsuki and Mei's laughter and the echoes of the dust bunnies.
If you walk along the trail along the Dondoko Forest, you will be able to find Dondoko-do, where a large Totoro statue awaits. Children under the age of 12 can climb and play inside the structure; adults are not allowed inside, unfortunately.
Mononoke Village (Opening November 2023)
This area is inspired by the Japanese mountain village landscape in Princess Mononoke. You will be able to have a go at making Gohei-mochi (traditional Aichi mochi) at the learning center. The area will also feature a Lord Okkoto slide - but again, this will only be available for children under the age of 12. (Adults can't win.)
Buying your tickets
Advanced ticketing is required for the Ghibli Park - tickets are not sold on-site and can only be purchased online. Note that reservations are specific to entry times to regulate the crowds.
Tickets open 3 months in advance on both sites, at 2pm Japan time on the 10th of the month. So for example, tickets for January 2024 will go on sale on October 10 2023, 2pm. If possible, you would want to try getting into the ticket purchase site as soon as sales open. Be prepared to wait in queue to purchase your tickets.
When Mononoke Village opens in November 2023, your tickets to Ghibli's Grand Warehouse will come with entry to Mononoke Village!
If you were unable to get a ticket for your preferred slot, you could also try getting a ticket from the domestic ticketing site, which has more available time slots. However, note that the domestic ticketing site is only available in Japanese, so you might have to use your browser's translation engine to help you navigate the purchase process.
You can get to the Ghibli Park by train. Take the Linimo (Aichi Rapid Transit Co., Ltd Tobu Kyuryo Line) to Ai-Chikyuhaku Kinen Koen. The park is just outside the station from Exit 2.
Alternatively, you can take a shuttle bus from Nagoya Station. There are only 6 shuttles per day from Nagoya Station to the park; and 5 shuttles per day from the park back to the station. Be sure to check the bus timetables so that you don't miss the bus!
Note that there is no parking lot designated for Ghibli Park, so it is not advisable to drive there.
Weekdays: 10am - 5pm (closed on Tuesdays)
Weekends and Holidays: 9am - 5pm
The park will get crowded, and you will be spending quite a bit of time queuing to take photos. Here are some tips that could help you make the best out of your trip:
- Visit during the off-peak: The park tends to get crowded on weekends or holidays. Consider visiting during the weekday instead, where crowds tend to be less.
- Planning your queues: Expect the longest queue to be the one for the No Face exhibit (the queues at the other character exhibits are much shorter); so if that is the one that you want to take photos with, consider heading for that exhibit first. However, if you just want to take a photo of the No Face exhibit (and not with it), you could try sneaking in from the exit via the staircase near the open warehouse entrance if the staff isn't looking. Don't try this if you are planning to take a photo with the exhibit though - you don't want to incur the wrath of everyone else waiting in line.
- Dress comfortably: We get that you want to take pretty photos. But be sure to dress comfortably, as you'll be standing in queue a lot, and you will likely be walking quite a bit as well.
- Spend some time at the souvenir shop: There are some limited and exclusive items that you can find at the souvenir shop. Spend some time browsing through the collection to see if there is anything that catches your eye.