The Ghibli fans have one more reason to visit Japan. We’re huge fans, so we tried to do everything we could during our trips there. On this post, you’ll find all the Ghibli related experiences we tried – and that you can, too! So keep reading to find our about Satsuki and Mei’s house and other Ghibli experiences in Japan with kids.
Satsuki and Mei’s House, Nagoya, Japan
If there’s one good reason to visit Nagoya, it’s this. I never even knew it existed – until now. We visited it in 2018 and it was such a dream!
Where it is and how to get there
The house is in Moricoro Park, also known as Ai Chikyu-Haku Kinen Kôen. I know, it’s a very long name but it’s also the train station name, so you’d better learn it. It’s in Nagoya, Japan. It’s a bit away from the center, but there’s no problem, it’s easy to get there.
If you’re going by train, you’ll need to get to the Linimo line. The line in itself is a bit more expensive, but also a bit more comfortable (and empty) than the other local lines. Exit on the Ai Chikyu-Haku Kôen Station and you’re at the park.
There are loads of signs pointing out the direction of Satsuki and Mei’s House.
We got to the information center, and the park bus was there, so we took it. It’s free of charge and it’s a circular route, so easy peasy. Most people get off at Satsuki and Mei’s house, but if you’re not sure, just ask the guide person – they’re very helpful.
After the bus, though, you’ll still need to walk for around 5 minutes to get to the ticket sales and exchange center. There are signs, so it’s easy too. It’s a beautiful walk, take your time and enjoy it!
(On the way, there’s a Japanese tea room, where you can try Matcha with Wagashi – Japanese traditional sweets – for only ¥500)
How to buy tickets for Satsuki and Mei’s house
They’re sold at the Loppi machines in any Lawson Convenience Store. It’s not as visible as the tickets to Ghibli Museum and it’s only in Japanese, so it can be hard. It’s a good option for those who have a tight schedule, so you know you’ll be able to see it when you arrive.
Tours are timed, and you should arrive at least 10 minutes before your slot.
The easiest way is to buy on the spot. Get there an buy it. Since there are tours every 30 minutes, it’s not hard to get a ticket. At worst, you’ll need to spend some time at the lovely park before you goto your tour.
Tickets cost ¥510 per adult and ¥250 per child (up to 15).
The tour of the house from My Neighbor Totoro
We bought our tickets at a Lawson store, so we took our tickets and went to the ticket counter. The lady then gave each of us a tag to hang on our necks. It showed we were group A – there are 2 groups, A and B – and told us to go to the covered area and wait. We also got a flier in Japanese and an English version, plus a fun sheet with a few items to find in the house.
After a few minutes, a man came and started saying the instructions and rules – in Japanese. Group A was going to tour the inside of the house first while group B would tour the outside. After 15 minutes, we’d trade. No photos inside the house, no climbing the stairs to the second floor, no entering the dad’s study. That was basically it.
He kept saying curiosities about the movie My Neighbor Totoro until we arrived at the house. Then I couldn’t hear anything anymore. I was in awe.
The house is set as one year after the movie, so the mom is home too, which is lovely.
It’s a self-guided tour, you are free to roam wherever you want for the 15 minutes you have either inside or outside of the house.
The inside of the house
– the first rule of Japan, TAKE YOUR SHOES OFF WHEN ENTERING A HOUSE. It is a house, so we had to take our shoes off too. Wear shoes that are easy to take off and put on! –
What can I say? It’s SO incredibly beautiful and real! It’s definitely breathtaking. I had no words beside WOW and AW.
Every detail is there.
You can open all the drawers and cabinets, you can pump water at the kitchen sink, you can enter the ofuro (bath) area, you can see their toilet. There is actual house stuff, like plates, and cups, and clothes, sewing kits, toothbrushes, board games, shoes, soaps, books, and all those little details.
Opening Satsuki’s school bag and their clothes cabinet felt a bit like invading their privacy, but heck, it’s perfect. Seriously, go do it. They’re fictional characters, after all. There was Mei’s and their dad’s hat, the girls’ shoes, just like on the movies! The sandals and the rain boots!
I’m gonna stop here because I don’t want to spoil your experience, but it’s SO MUCH WORTH IT!
* One thing to beware is that you only have 15 minutes inside. From the moment they open the doors, the clock is ticking, so the quicker you can get inside the house, the better for you.
The outside of Satsuki and Mei’s house
If the inside was perfect, the outside was too!
There’s a better view of the dad’s study from the outside, and photos from the outside are allowed, so go ahead and take your time there. There’s a calendar with Mei’s drawings, all the books, a half-written page, so awesome.
Even under the house, there are surprises. You’ll need to look everywhere.
The place where they did their laundry was a lot of fun, with real water and even the bucket with the hole on the bottom.
There was the bike, the place where the girls planted the seeds gifted by Totoro and, my favorite, the bus stop. Beautiful thing.
Don’t forget to do the Totoro dance to see if the trees grow!
By the way, the part of the lake, where their magic garden is, is the best place to take photos of the house.
* And you only have 15 minutes there too. After that time, the staff kindly ask you to drop your tag in a box and leave. And they do make sure everyone left.
Our review of Satsuki and Mei’s House
Seriously 15 minutes is way too little. They should extend the time at least a little. We wanted to but didn’t get the change to open up all the drawers and look at the books from inside Satsuki’s school bag, nor take in the place like I like to. We had to move quickly and efficiently – and there are a lot of people, so if you wait for someone to finish looking at something, time’s up, my friend. Go look along or forget it and go explore something else. For the outside, 15 minutes didn’t seem enough but there’s a lot less, so it may be doable for faster people.
But since it’s cheap, it’s easy to get 2 tours on the same day to explore slowly.
There are a lot of staff watching so that people treat the house with respect, but also giving out clues of what to look, where there are things, and all. They were great with the kids, even though the language problems.
It was, definitely, one of my favorite days in Japan.
Even the kids, who are usually just passing through stuff, were amazed at how perfect everything was. We really felt like we were in the movies.
So, all in all, it’s VERY WORTH all the trouble and the money. Don’t miss it!
The little stand selling the Totoro stuff was a bit too small and shabby, but we were there to see the house, not to buy stuff. I think.
- What / Where
- Duration of the tour
- $ ~ $$$
- Best local transport option
- Do we recommend it?
- Satsuki and Mei’s House / Nagoya, Japan
- 30 minutes – 15 inside, 15 outside
- PERFECTLY family-friendly!
- Linimo Train line and then the park free bus!
- 100% safe
- YES, please, don’t miss it!
Oh, and watch the movie My Neighbor Totoro before you go, it’s great to see it come to life while everything is fresh!
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Ghibli Museum, Tokyo
We visited the Museum twice – once during summer of 2016 and once during winter of 2018. It just never gets old! If you want to see the full account, click here!
It’s beautiful, so beautiful! Every single detail was thought through, and executed with perfection!
The stained glass windows, the paintings, the play area, the shop, the restaurant, the exhibits, they’re all very well done.
There are the permanent exhibits, like the magic of animation room and the artist rooms, and the temporary exhibits. You can visit as many times as you want and there’ll always be something new to be seen!
On our first visit, we had the real life-size Cat-bus (or Neko-bus), where we could sit and feel the fluffy fur, or even squeeze the nose. Seriously a magic moment. There was also a Howl’s Moving Castle replica, with open windows through which we could see laundry, the bathroom, the library, and a lot more. It was so pretty we inspected it for a long time!
On our second visit, the exhibit was about the food. If you haven’t noticed, all Ghibli movies have food, and they’re amazing. The exhibit was mouth-watering and so intricate that we left knowing we’ll never work there – unless we develop serious patience (and drawing) skills.
The best part is the upstairs yard, where the giant from Laputa, Castle in the Sky, is. It’s perfect, giant, and oh so incredible.
There’s a no-photo rule inside the museum, but you can take as many as you want outside, so everybody lines up to take photos with the giant. It’s amazing.
Then there’s a short film for everyone. The movie changes every month, and they’re all lovely.
For a Ghibli fan (not only Totoro fans), this is the best place to visit for sure!
And for the littlest, or under 12, there’s a play area with a great fluffy climbable Neko-bus. Yes, please.
Ghibli Architecture Expo, Osaka
In late 2017, we got the chance to visit this awesome exposition in Osaka. It showed details of how much thought goes into the architecture of the houses and villages and schools and shops in every single Ghibli movie.
It was divided into movie areas, so there was one room (or a part of the room) for each movie.
Some movies, like Heidi, Chihiro, and Totoro, the most famous, had replicas, and more details and pictures. The other had lots of drawings, sketches, and explanations – in Japanese.
There was even an audio guide, but unfortunately, only in Japanese.
The kids were very very very tired in the end, but I loved it and I seriously wanted to buy one of the sketches to put on any of my walls. They don’t sell those, though.
And we get the chance to learn about how seriously they take every movie they make. It’s a lot of work into every detail, it’s eye opening!
And there was also the no-photo rule.
There’s always one different Ghibli exhibit going on somewhere in Japan, so look around and try to find something! We saw ours on the Loppi machine (while buying the tickets for Ghibli Museum) in a Lawson Convenience Store, but there were signs in the trains here and there, so keep your eyes open! I believe they’re all amazing.
Ghibli themed food
Around Japan, there are loads of Ghibli themed food.
There’s the restaurant in Ghibli Museum, the Mugiwara Boushi.
But there are lots of bakeries and patisseries with some character stuff that are super fun!
We went to Shiro-hige (Tokyo) just to get the Totoro cream puff and found out they have lots of cookies and other pretty Totoro themed stuff. For the serious lovers, it’s worth a stop!
Don’t miss them!
But, seriously, most department stores have a Ghibli area, so you’ll only need to find it.
And don’t forget to buy whatever you want when you find it, because other than the Totoro and Jiji (from Kiki’s Delivery Service) plush toys, you won’t find the same stuff everywhere. I wish I’d known that when I let the Laputa giant plant pot for later.
The Ghibli Museum has the prettiest and more varied shop, but Donguri no Mori stores are also very very very lovely.
The exhibitions also often have a pretty good and varied store.
To finish it…
There should be many more experiences around, but these were the ones we were able to visit and drawl over.
But for Ghibli fans, Satsuki and Mei’s house and Ghibli Museum are a must! Don’t miss them for the world!