I got a comment on my blog that reminded me about something that I’ve been meaning to post. The Ghibli Museum, a must-visit spot for anyone going to Japan, is still an amazing space and incredibly inexpensive to visit, at only 1000yen!
However, JTB, Japan Travel Bureau, the only way to purchase Ghibli tickets from overseas, has taken to charging customers exorbitant rates, with a ridiculous currency exchange AND huge ‘transaction fees’! Basically that 1000yen ticket (about CDN$10.58 by today’s exchange rate) now costs nearly $40! That’s $13.00 +tax for the ticket, and a $25.00 transaction fee!
While I think this is unacceptable and plan on mailing off a letter of complaint to the good folks at the Ghibli Museum about what their business partner is up to, this is pretty much the only game in town for foreign visitors at the moment. So read on for my suggestions for a Japan-bound traveler on what to do.
I’ve been enjoying your blog as of late as I prepare for my trip to Japan at the end of October. I really want to visit the museum but was wondering about the ticket situation. To buy the ticket from the states, it would cost $40. To buy it in Japan, it would cost $10. I’m a bit of a cheap-arse. Kinda hard to swallow the markup. Do you think it’d be prudent of me to purchase the tickets in the states? How difficult would it be to acquire the tickets in Japan? Great blog! Thanks for the help.
Hey there Jerry,
Thanks for your comment on my blog!
To answer your question–yes, the new ‘transaction fee’ that JTB is charging is insane. I don’t know that I can 100% recommend either the “buy early, pay through the nose” method, or the “take your chances in Japan” method as being a good deal though.
Here’s what you’re looking at:
Buying Ghibli tickets in Japan:
– Only 1000 yen!
– You can only buy them from a Japanese electronic vending machine, only at LAWSON convenience store, and the machine is Japanese-language only!
– The machine may or may not take your foreign Visa/Mastercard. This has been iffy for me in the past.
– Tickets bought in Japan have an “admission time” on them, meaning you MUST enter at that time or within an hour afterwards, or your ticket is invalid.
– Tickets sell out QUICK, so by the time you get to Japan, all the tickets for your dates may be unavailable.
Buying in North America:
– $40! Highway robbery! a 400% markup is unacceptable for an ‘administration fee’.
– International tickets are good all day, no ‘start time’ so you can plan a flexible schedule!
– You can buy international tickets months and months in advance.
– It’s way easier to plan your trip when the tickets are confirmed early.
So! If you’re the type to fly by the seat of your pants, then good, go for the cheap option! Otherwise, swallow your pride (and $30 that could go towards 2 great bowls of ramen) and pay for the convenience. If you need to have your trip set in stone, pay the money for the peace of mind.
Though, frankly, the third option is the best: Beg a friend of yours in Japan to buy them for you!