Sunday, 13 September 2015

27-07-2015 ~ Ghibli Museum & Exploring Tokyo

Good effort at getting in sync with Japan time, but we woke up at 04:00. After talking to people back home on Whatsapp (Japan is 8 hours ahead of UK) and trying to sleep again, we gave up and started planning our day.

We went for breakfast at 07:20 on the ground floor of the hotel and exchanged our paper vouchers for a choice of 3 meals. We both chose the rice meal, which resulted in a bowl of rice, pot of green tea, and a 9-compartment plate with small pieces of fish, egg, pickles and some unidentifiable foods. I was feeling adventurous and so tried everything - BEWARE the pickled plum! Felt like my face had been sucked inside itself; so sour! Next up was a red blob that seemed to have little balls inside a skin... This was very spicy! I was later enlightened that these were spicy fish eggs... Other than these early morning shocks the meal was good though we were confused as to why we weren't given a cup to put the tea in - we later learned that the meal was called 'Rice in Tea' and we should've poured the tea into the rice bowl... you live & you learn.

After breakfast we left to go to the Ghibli Museum. SO EXCITED!! We took the Tozai Line from Kudanshita to Nakano (¥200 each) then the Chuo Line to Mitaka (¥170 each). We caught the dedicated Ghibli bus from bus stop 9 to the museum and arrived well before 11:00 (we got a return bus ticket for ¥320 each).





As we got off the bus we saw the Laputa robot! (see above). There was no queue so we went straight in - we'd bought our tickets months before through one of the certified online stores in the UK.

The museum entrance is stunning! It looks like the baby's room from 'Spirited Away' and there are stained glass windows all round with images from all the films. So beautiful!
Down the beautiful wooden staircase to the basement floor which holds the cinema and the first room which has exhibits of toys, models, 3D scenes and old film movies. There were 2 especially clever exhibits with strobe lights & models of characters in successive poses of movement (running or jumping etc).

On the next floor up are two rooms that look like the animators studios full with sketches, drawings, colour charts, models and storyboard books - I could've spent hours in these rooms but M wanted to continue exploring. On the top floor is the cat bus soft play area - great half scale fluffy model of the cat bus with cuddly soot sprite toys (unfortunately for children only). On the other side of the top floor is the Ghibli Shop - so many things to buy here! Though it was busy the queues for the tills were fairly short. We came away with postcards, 3 packs of playing cards, notepad, badge, and an Ohm model...

The door next to the cat bus area leads to birdcage staircase up to the roof where the Laputa Robot is. There was a small queue to take a photo with the robot and then a path leads around behind the robot to the other end of the roof where a cube from Laputa Castle sits.





Sadly there were no photos allowed inside the Museum but we got a few of the outside...
This museum is AMAZING, we can't recommend it enough! There was no time limit on our tickets and we spent about 2-2.5 hours there.

We got the bus back to Mitaka station and caught the train to Ikekuburo to check out Sunshine City. Be aware Sunshine City is a 20-25 minute walk from the station which was pretty hard work in 36C heat and humidity to make it feel 42C! Lots of ice cream was consumed along the way, as was a Family Mart lunch of Chicken Onigiri/Cold chicken noodles. Sunshine city is a huge complex with shops, restaurants and 2 indoor 'theme parks'. We looked at Pok√©mon World, Disney Store, and a shop that sold character goods including Ghibli, Moomin and Snoopy. We bought really good ice cream & sorbet from Blue Seal which is an Okinawan chain (coincidence as we're going there after Tokyo).

We took the train to Harajuku and walked down the famous Takeshita Street which was super busy (as is the norm I believe). We didn't see anyone fully dressed up though there were a few girls in unusual clothing.



We walked back to the station via the parallel street of high end shops (Dior, Vivienne Westwood, Ralph Lauren etc) and caught the train to Shibuya to see the famous crossing that's in the movies. We thought it was organised chaos. One of the things we loved about Japan is that most cities have the bird tweet noise to accompany pedestrian crossings, and the fact that no one jay walks! Everyone waits and crosses only when the green light shows. Very impressive!




We stopped for dinner at a restaurant under the bridge opposite the station & used the vending machine ourselves! We ordered two pork ramen with cold green tea & a beer, good cheap fast food.

Exhausted we headed back to the hotel for shower and sleep.

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