Photo/IllutrationThe Ghibli Museum welcomes its 10 millionth visitor when the family of Akio Nagata turned up on Jan. 14 in Mitaka, western Tokyo. (Miki Aoki)

The arrival of a family from Osaka marked the 10 million milestone in visitor numbers to anime giant Hayao Miyazaki's Ghibli Museum in western Tokyo on Jan. 14.

Akio Nagata, 37, came to the museum for the first time with his wife, 6-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son.

“I’m so surprised. We’re so lucky,” said Nagata, a judicial scrivener, as his family was presented with commemorative gifts of a stuffed Totoro character and anime-themed eating utensils.

The annual number of visitors to the museum featuring the work of the Oscar-winning animation auteur is around 650,000. The museum opened in October 2001.

For security reasons, the facility in Mitaka limits visitors to 2,400 per day and by advance reservation only.

Although the number of foreign visitors was around 10 percent of the total when it opened, that figure has risen to 30 percent in recent years.

“It’s almost a miracle that tickets have kept selling out even now. We are truly grateful,” said Kiyofumi Nakajima, managing director of the museum.

“We have always tried, as Miyazaki says, to ‘continue to cast sparkling lights.’ But far more than that, our museum has been loved by everybody,” he added.

The celebrated director Miyazaki is making a new CG-animated short titled “Kemushi no Boro" (Boro the Caterpillar), which is scheduled to be shown at the museum later this year.

Miyazaki was quoted as saying he was delighted to know the news and grateful that so many people had visited.