By Elena Lisina
The Straw Hat Cafe is located in Ghibli Museum, Mitaka, Tokyo. It is a most adorable cafe with gorgeous interior that reminds you of Ghibli movies everywhere you look, and serves the most delicious food - all made with organic ingredients!
To go to the Straw Hat cafe, you must purchase entry tickets for Ghibli Museum. These tickets have to be purchased at least one month in advance. So if you want to visit the Ghibli Museum in July for example, you had best buy tickets in June or even May. In Japan, tickets can be purchased at any Lawson store, using the ticketing service machine "Loppi". The machine is fairly straightforward and easy to use, simply selecting the place you want to go to (Ghibli Museum), the date and time slot you want. Ghibli Museum separates their time slots in order to keep the number of visitors to the museum at a less crowded, comfortable rate. For people buying tickets outside of Japan, usually a Japan travel agency would sell Ghibli Museum tickets, but these often have to be bought three months in advance. Therefore, if you want to visit Ghibli Museum and Straw Hat Cafe, make sure to purchase your tickets early!
Now onto the actual cafe review. The special thing about the cafe is that it is one of the few places in the museum that lets you take photos. Ghibli Museum has strict rules regarding photography, because they want you to enjoy the museum with your own eyes, and not through the lens. However, in Straw Hat Cafe, they do allow you to take photos of their food - but even then, only the food and not the cafe interior itself! The food itself is absolutely delicious, and despite being above the average meal price, it is really worth it. First, their food is all made with organic ingredients, so everything was very fresh and delicious. Their organic ice cream parfait must have been one of the best parfaits I have ever eaten! Secondly, the food is all served on Ghibli character plates, and combined with a lovely dining interior and atmosphere, it feels like you are eating food in a cafe in a Ghibli movie.
Something to take note of is the best time of to go to the cafe to eat. It is best to plan your visit to the Ghibli Museum well. The cafe is very popular so there will often be a line you have to join in order to get in. The staff are friendly and efficient about it though, giving you menus to look at while you wait. My visit to Ghibli Museum was in the 12:00 entry slot (shows the high demand in tickets - morning slots of 10:00 were all gone even a month before!) so our group decided to go right to the Straw Hat Cafe first as soon as we entered. Even then there was already a short line, we waited only about 15 minutes before being seated. After a most enjoyable lunch, we could use the rest of our time slowly looking around the museum itself.
Be prepared to line up for the Straw Hat Cafe, but be rewarded with delicious food and an adorable dining atmosphere!
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I love Japan for its people, culture, food, scenery, and overall ambiance and never-ending list of things to explore and enjoy. I lived in Kyoto for one year as an exchange student, and was able to travel around various parts of Japan during that exchange time. Now I'm back in Auckland, NZ, but am aiming to be back in Japan soon in the future for travel or work!