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As I understand it, there are two options for getting tickets to the Ghibli museum: through a local travel agency before we get to Japan, or at a Lawson's convenience store after we get to Japan.

I just enquired at JTB, the only US travel agency that sells these tickets here in the US. It turns out that in addition to the 1000 yen (12 USD) ticket price, they charge an extra $5 for each ticket, plus $10 for shipping. For two tickets, this is a 83% markup. Yay monopolies!

On the other hand, if I wait until I get to Japan to buy them, I worry that tickets will be sold out, since I'll be buying them on the day of the visit.

Should I be worried, or are tickets generally available even right before visiting? I'm thinking of going on a Monday (April 9).

I'd be particularly interested in hearing from people who bought tickets on short notice. How much time in advance did you buy your tickets, and was it during a peak season/weekend?

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

Here's what I found out:

While you can reserve tickets through Lawson's website (if you read Japanese), you have only 2 days to print your tickets out at a Lawson's branch in Japan before they cancel your reservation. So it's not a great option if you want to buy tickets in advance. It's March 30th now, and the April 9th 10am slot is already sold out.

On the other hand, JTB only has a limited number of tickets it can sell. So just because you see open slots at Lawson's website, this doesn't mean you can get a ticket for them from JTB. I tried purchasing tickets from JTB on March 27 and they had no tickets earlier than April 21.

In summary, if you want to ensure a visit to the Ghibli museum, bite the overhead and reserve it through JTB, about a month in advance (probably earlier if you plan to visit during Japanese holidays like Golden Week or Obon).

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One positive for buying the vouchers beforehand from JTB is that they are locked to a particular day only. The Lawson-bought tickets are tied to a day and time.

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