One of the things that makes Studio Ghibli movies stand out, especially on an international stage, is how enjoyable they are for young children, high school students, and adult audiences. Universal themes are told in a way that is understandable to children but also very relatable to the child that still lives inside of us adults. That’s where the GBL store comes in.
Of course, Studio Ghibli titles and their characters are not only highly beloved but also highly marketable. Therefore, many Studio Ghibli stores named, Donguri Kyowakoku or Acorn Republic, exist for both children and adults across Japan to sell official Studio Ghibli merchandise.
The type of items you can typically find in a Ghibli store are different media related to the movies, such as DVDs; art books; soundtracks; stationary goods like notebooks, folders, or pencils; and lifestyle and home goods like tea sets, kitchenware, and figures. For a look at what kind of items have been sold in the past, we previously reviewed the Studio Ghibli moisturizer and Ghibli-themed desk calendars.
A store that stands out among some of the other Studio Ghibli stores in Tokyo is the GBL flagship store in Mitsui Shopping Park Rayard at Miyashita Park, located across from Shibuya Station. The shopping center is home to many fashionable shops as well as exhibit spaces, a dance studio, and The Kit-Kat Chocolatory. On the roof sits a large park equipped with a skate park, a rock climbing wall, and a beach sand area.
The GBL store is located in the south section of the building on the 3rd floor, right outside of the Food Hall. This Ghibli store is more geared for adults, collectors, and those also interested in, surprisingly, the outdoors.
The website offers this as an explanation of the overall vibe of the store, “What was the first Ghibli work you saw? We want to cherish the excitement and memories from that time forever. I want to always feel close to my favorite works and characters. With that in mind, the brand “GBL” for adults was made.”
All of the stand alone Studio Ghibli stores have a décor that reflects what you would expect to see in a Studio Ghibli store. Many popular Ghibli characters are represented in decorations that look like they have come right out of the brain of Hayao Miyazaki and their respective movies. In some stores, you can find a life-sized Totoro, Satsuki and Mei, or the front half of the Cat Bus in a realistic forest setting.
The GLB store is also set up as if you were walking into a Studio Ghibli movie. The Witch of the Waste’s shadow-like henchmen greet you at the front of the store, often dressed in the current clothing they have for sale. At the other end of the entrance you can see a large Flaptter machine used for flying in Laputa: Castle in the Sky. Look up and you will also see a plane from the movie Porco Rosso hanging from the ceiling!
Among other decorations on the walls you can see the Kiki’s delivery service sign that was placed out front of the bakery in the movie Kiki’s Delivery Service. Next to the sign are various tools and instruments as well as framed pictures and maps, all pertaining to different Ghibli movies.
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At the GBL store, you can find something that other Ghibli stores are often missing: clothes! T-shirts with designs from many popular titles such as My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke, and Spirited Away, as well as button down shirts and sweaters line the shelves. One section of the store is also dedicated to Ghibli-designed denim goods from a collaboration with Momotaro Jeans.
Another surprising find at the GBL store is outdoor equipment. When the store first opened I was able to snag a few Totoro shaped carabiners and some thick socks I used for a hiking trip before they sold out. As Ghibli movies so expertly capture the feeling of ‘beauty in the mundane’, these everyday items really do add a little bit of Ghibli magic to my everyday life.
With all of these great items, it can be hard not to empty out your wallet every time you walk by the store. Although they are a little bit pricey, these are our favorite items that have been sold in the GBL store.
One item that had us screaming, “Take my money!” was their line of silk embroidered souvenir jackets, also known as sukajan. Even if you are unfamiliar with this term you have probably seen these often brightly colored and loud print type of jackets as they were originally created to be souvenirs for foreign tourists in Japan. GBL has a line of Ghibli inspired sukajan featuring characters from different movies.
The Howl’s Moving Castle jacket features Calcifer on the front and a scene depicting Howl in his bird creature-like form taking down bombs on the back. The quote, “I’ve finally found someone I want to protect.. You,” is written across the bottom, as well as the release year of 2004, and the kanji for moving (動) and the kanji for castle (城). The bug creatures from the movie also line the arms of the jacket. The lining and accents of the jacket are red and orange.
The Spirited Away version of this jacket features the bath house on the front of the jacket and a scene of a bloated No-Face eating one of the frog workers on the back. Under the name Spirited Away, we see the kanji for sen (千) which is also the first character in Chihiro’s name since this kanji can also be read as chi. This is how Chihiro got her new name when Yubaba took the latter half of her name. The jacket also features the kanji for kami (神) which means god or spirit. The accents on this jacket are dark red and green.
This is not the first time Ghibli has expanded into warm wear. In the past, they also released a line of Ghibli-inspired winter wear with gloves, hats, and scarves. A bit more on the pricey side, they also released high quality sweaters from Princess Mononoke featuring the Forest Spirit and Mononoke’s wolf family. All ideal for the cold Tokyo winters.
So, what is your favorite Studio Ghibli film or anime movie? Perhaps Whisper of the Heart or The Wind Rises, or one of the newer ones like Earwig and the Witch. Either way, if you enjoy Ghibli, then you are sure to enjoy the GBL store, or any of the many Studio Ghibli stores across Japan.
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