Thursday, 5 January 2012

Louise & Rob: Day Six

We wake up to another konbini breakfast, scoffing down delicious  but unusually textured waffles and vitamin-rich lemon juce filled with odd jelly balls, all while watching commuters rushing on their way to work. We feel slightly smug about being awake this early without setting an alarm. So, the jetlag only took six days to get over then...

We discover the postcards that we’d chosen and written days ago (bought from a stationary shop that seemed to sell racks upon racks of postcards and nothing else, until we discovered it was about 10 times larger than we realised and quickly stocked up on Moomin goodies). We check the map to find the post office – it looks straightforward enough – and set off to post them at last. 

What we don't realise is that in this area, Shinjuku splits into levels and we wind up being in the right general vicinity, but completely unable to reach the actual building. Once we finally descend to street-level, we go in, only to find we’re on the wrong floor. The good news is, the staff are very helpful and deal with our language shortcomings very well, and we’re soon all done and ready to continue today’s adventure.

 As we’re heading to the Ghibli Museum today, we decide a stop at an ATM might be a good idea. We’re delighted by the fact that even the ATMs are polite, and not only that but they play you a little tune as they unveil your money dramatically from a secret compartment somewhere under the screen. Ta-dah!

We get the train to Mitaka, and relish the breathing space – this is the first quiet train we’ve been on! Upon reaching Mitaka we decide to catch the bus, rather than walk, when we see it’s a big, yellow, friendly looking thing covered in cartoon characters. It could almost be the Catbus!

The bus more than makes up for the spacious train, as excited Japanese children – and adults – clamber around eagerly. But before too long, we’re there. This is exciting – the whole reason for our journey in the first place, and we’ve finally arrived! We’re not disappointed, either. 

We’re greeted at the entrance and a friendly staff member swaps our coupons for real tickets – which feature cells from films – Louise’s is from Spirited Away, and we can’t quite work out which film Rob’s is from, but think it may be Tales From Earthsea. We’re then ushered into a bright blue room, which has the most spectacular ceiling, with a painted fresco featuring the studio’s most popular characters, but we’re too excited to spend much time searching.

We head into the Central Hall, which has a tiny spiral staircase and a glass lift, Louise heads to the toilet and leaves Rob waiting as she explores the tiny details, which include Kiki’s Delivery Service’s Cat Jiji featuring on the taps, Totoro on doors and beautiful stained glass windows throughout the whole building.

We explore the exhibitions, which cover Hayao Miyazaki’s work prior to the formation of the studio, alongside pieces relating to their films. We’re bewitched by a moving statue with a My Neighbour Totoro theme, which uses strobe lighting to make the characters seem like they’re moving.  

There are storyboards, interactive exhibits and statues all over – it’s a Ghibli fan’s dream.

The next room we go into has a almost life-size plush catbus sprawled across the floor. We notice a sign stating that only school children can play – so watch jealously for a while, before heading on. 

The museum has its own movie theatre, where they show limited edition shorts. We head inside and take our place on the coliseum-style seating to watch Miyazaki’s The Whale Hunt – which seems to involve school children heading on a fantastical journey. We interested to note this is the first film that was shown in the theatre – so we feel very lucky to have seen it.

On our way to the roof, we’re waylayed by the souvenir shop, where we absolutely load up on goodies, including a giant Totoro – which Louise spends the rest of the day proudly holding, keyrings, badges and a jigsaw. We’re in Ghibli-shopping-heaven, but it’s ok...we’re celebrating an engagement...

We’ve been in the museum for a while now, so we head towards the Straw Hat cafe, snapping a few pictures on the way (you’re allowed to outside...honest!)

We look over the queue for the cafe, before deciding to eat from kiosk instead, ordering cool drinks, chickin hotdogs (sic) and ice cream. The barley tea looks interesting, although Louise had looked at online accounts of Ghibli Museum visits and heard bad, bad things. So we stick with safe apple juice – which Rob confidently orders in Japanese. 

After a quick refuel we head up a cramped staircase – trying hard not to headbutt other people in the rear. Halfway up with stop to play with a musical bench and a water fountain – which turns out to be much more powerful than we realise and sprays Rob in the chops. Louise takes advantage of this and soaks Rob – much to the amusement of watching children.

When we get to roof, we’re rewarded with views of the sprawling ivy-covered museum and a giant statue of a Laputa robot – brilliant!

We also spot a Laputa-esque cube covered in engraved writing.

On the way back inside, we’re both thrilled to discover a Ghibli-themed bookshop – Louise loves books and Ghibli, and Rob’s pretty keen on them too!

We spend a huge chunk of time browsing the books, before settling on The Art Of Princess Mononoke, Hayao Miyazaki’s Daydream Note, Archives of Studio Ghibli vol.1 (Nausicaa & Laputa), a Totoro picturebook, and the accompanying books to the short films shown in the museum. Naturally the majority of these are in Japanese, but the wonder of Ghibli transcends language...

Then, when we think we’ve seen everything the museum has to offer, we stumble upon a mock-up of Miyazaki’s own office/studio, which is a treasure-trove of books, reference materials, art, scientific instruments, models and very random objects. It’s the sort of place you could spend weeks exploring and still find new items all the time. Now, suitably assured we have actually explored every bit of the museum, we decide to do our aching feet a favour and head for the bus. 

While waiting, we find the floor is littered with acorns, which makes it feel like a scene from My Neighbour Totoro. We also find what looks like another entrance to the site – a ticket booth, and we’re surprised to see this one’s staffed by Totoro himself.

It’s another squeeze to get on the bus, but before too long we’re back at Mitaka Station and ready to return to the hotel.

Walking from Shinjuku Station we notice that as it starts to rain, the residents of Tokyo react very differently to us. While we’re happy to ignore a light rain on a short journey, we see people going to great lengths to stay as dry as possible, even sheltering underneath their laptop cases or handbags. We take a slightly different route to usual, and stumble upon a greengrocer who’s open surprisingly late, selling slabs of fresh pineapple skewered with chopsticks. We stand to one side (eating on the street in Japan is a faux-pas) and enjoy a much-needed vitamin-C top-up after a diet that, we realise, has been a bit to centred on Pocky and cakes.

We finish the night with a meal of steamed dumplings from a 7-Eleven, and enjoy such flavours as pizza and chow mein balls. We sit in the room and watch the people 20 storeys below us go about their nights in the rain.


Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
There are currently Online Users
Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More