Japan: Day 7 – Tokyo

Or, well, to be specific: mostly Mitaka (a suburb of Tokyo) with other random bits and pieces.

We were supposed to go to Tsukiji Market in the morning and to Harajuku for lunch, but upon waking up I decided that I was dead tired, feeling not-so-very-good and much preferred to stay put instead of going out. At that point I didn’t much care about seeing a fish market or Harajuku. I just wanted to rest my poor tired feet and head.

So we had lunch at the mall beside the Nagareyama Ootakanomori station.

I found a wall displaying posters for Avengers. Naturally, I took pics of them. :P (There were only posters for Iron Man, Black Widow, Cap and Thor though. No Hulk or Hawkeye.)

Now that I have time to actually look at the text on those posters, I find that the words going vertically down on the left side of each poster are supposed to be descriptive of the characters, and they all begin with ありえないほど, which directly translates to “impossibly” or “unbelievably”. hahah Cap’s basically says “unbelievably righteous/just.” Iron Man’s described as “[an] unbelievable genius”. (I guess “unbelievably smart” could work too, as a less literal interpretation.)  Thor is “unbelievably heroic/big-hearted”. Black Widow is “unbelievably fascinating/bewitching.”

Ok, enough Avengers for the moment. haha (As a side note, the movie just opened in Japan last week, I believe.)

After lunch we started for Mitaka, which is on the other side of Tokyo. (Akihabara station is where the Tsukuba line terminates, so we always ended up here first before changing to other trains.)

Snapped a few random pics like these while waiting for the train. Not particularly great pics, but I liked the samples of normal Japanese fashion I get in them.

Waiting, waiting…

When we got to Mitaka, I hung around the shopping area by the station for a while as my friend had a dental appointment. No pics from there, though, as I was just feeling really tired and wasn’t in the mood to take photos. (There were also just too many people. I don’t like being squished when attempting to take pictures.)

Once my friend S was done with her dental appointment, we walked through Inokashira Park to the Ghibli Museum. Inokashira looked so green and serene. I wish I’d had more leisure time to just wander there and enjoy the trees. *vows to do that sometime in the future, hopefully not too far away*

Trees! I just like looking at nature so much more than looking at concrete jungles.

The weather that afternoon was also quite lovely – not too hot, not too cold. Saw lots of people sitting in the park, enjoying the Saturday afternoon out.

Aaah. I haven’t seen people reading out in parks since summer in Edinburgh. No one’s mad enough to sit out in the sun and read here in the tropics.

Ghibli Museum entrance! Mitaka no Mori Jiburi Bijutsukan are the words over the doorway. (Mitaka Forest Ghibli Museum)

Getting into the museum is a bit complicated. You can’t just go there and walk in. You have to get tickets in advance for specific entry times at least a day before I think. Though it’s so popular that I’m not sure that it’s easy to get tickets just one day before. I think my friend bought our tickets several weeks beforehand. (As I type this, I’m listening to the Reprise of Spirited Away, which is quite perfect for writing about the Ghibli Museum…) We’dpicked the 4pm slot, and managed to get there a little before 4 I think.

When you’re waiting in line to get into the museum, this is what you see on your left – the building itself.

If you look up, that’s the rooftop garden area of the museum.

No photography is allowed inside the museum so, no photos of the interior, I’m afraid. It’s a rather lovely place, though on the small side.

Here’s the illustrated map of the museum (more like a cross-section, really). Click on the image to see it larger.

I think this must’ve been one of my favourite things there. When you enter, they give you replica of a few animation cells from one of the Studio Ghibli movies. Mine was a few cells of Satsuki from My Neighbour Totoro. My friend got cells from Gedo Senki. So cool~

My other favourite thing was the short film they screen in the museum. They have several short films that they screen exclusively in the museum, and you don’t know which one you’re watching until you’re in the Saturn Theater (their screening hall). The day I went they showed Mei to Konekobasu – Mei and the Baby Catbus – which is related to My Neighbour Totoro. Not all the short films are related to specific Ghibli films; some are totally standalone. The downside of this is that there are no subtitles at all. The upside is that most short films don’t have a lot of dialogue or exposition and it’s usually fairly easy to figure out what’s going on. There were only a handful of spoken lines in Mei to Konekobasu, which were fortunately simple enough for me to understand. Phew.

Most of the museum is structured like a quaint home of an animator – as you walk through the rooms, it’s like walking through the process of making an animated film. The first room is covered in concept art from various Ghibli films. The walls are covered in thumbnail sketches and small concept paintings and the like. There’s furniture and stuff set up nicely to look as though someone actually lives and works there, but I was far more interested in gazing at the pictures plastered over the walls. The following rooms have things like storyboards, and ink and paint, and so on. In other words, stuff that means something to anyone who knows anything about the animation process. I don’t recall seeing signboards detailing or explaining things (or if there were, I simply didn’t notice them). It was all quite fascinating… except that the rooms were small and there were so many people. It was difficult to enjoy looking at stuff when people kept moving around you and some rooms were really quite packed, like the one where they had the full storyboards for several of the Ghibli films in book form on a table. You’re allowed to pick up those books and look at the storyboards, and thus many people stopped there and it created quite a bottleneck.

There’s a room on the ground floor that has little contraptions that demonstrate how animation works. That one’s kind of fun, though I preferred looking at concept art and such. haha

Up on the roof, you’re allowed to take pictures. This is the giant robot from Laputa (a.k.a. Castle in the Sky).

The garden space was nice to walk around in, though it wasn’t very big.

The view from the rooftop, looking down at the gate to the museum.

Next we went to Roppongi as I wanted to locate Hard Rock Cafe and get some souvenir stuff for my sisters from there… but when we got there (after quite a bit of confusion and getting lost), we found the place was closed and appeared to be under renovation. Ugh. That was irritating.

For dinner, we decided to have okonomiyaki. Happened to pass by an okonomiyaki place in Roppongi and so stopped there to eat.

It was a small little place, but perhaps because of that, had a bit more of a “true” atmosphere? Clearly not a shiny new, hyper modern restaurant. This type’s small and possibly family-run and looks to have been around for a while.

The table looked like that. The section in the middle is meant for you to grill your own okonomiyaki (I suppose in that case they’d just bring you the ingredients that you want) but you can – as we did – ask them to just prepare it for you straightaway.

Dinner! It wasn’t too bad, although the one I ordered had just a liiiittle too much of those welsh onion bits in it and after a while all I could taste was that. A bit much.

Then we went back to Nagareyama Ootakanomori… and watched TV until bedtime. hahaha

Got anything to add or say? :D