I am currently on a Shinkansen (bullet-train) bound for Kyoto right now. This will be another picture-less post, I’m afraid.
Sadly, I haven’t been able to update daily. Not so sadly, the reason why is because every day has been chocked full of awesome.
On day two we went to Mitaka, which is right outside of Tokyo. Mitaka is such a different place. Tokyo is big and bright and very Japanese where Mitaka kind of reminds me of a quiet European town. There are a couple of cobble stone streets lined with shops and restaurants but is mostly small coffee shops tucked away between nicer houses and quiet neighborhoods. It was beautiful.
The greatest thing about getting off the train station and walking towards the Ghibli Museum was that, even though it was scenic and quiet, you could feel a sort of excitement around you. Every once in a while a little iron post would appear on a street corner with a Totoro on top of it that said “Ghibli Museum 300m” and so on. People were around us constantly but I couldn’t help but get more and more excited that we were getting closer.
We walked through a little, shaded park and then all of a sudden the gates to the Ghibli Museum came into view. This was when I immediately broke into tears.
A very kind gatekeeper took our tickets and then we were lead to a smaller corridor indoors painted with different Ghibli motifs.
We were given maps and a movie ticket (there is a small theatre that plays Museum exclusive short films) and then lead into the main museum.
My first thought was that the museum was much smaller than I expected. It is all wood and basically looks like a scene from “Howl’s Moving Castle.” There are random spiral staircases, a steam punk-esque elevator, tiny doors and rooms, both secret and obvious hallways that lead you every which way. The theme of the museum is “Let’s Get Lost Together” and that’s exactly what you do. Napkin and I both LOVED the “exhibition room.” It’s full of contraptions and artwork. In its own way, I guess, it explains the process of animation. It was incredible. My favorite display was a “My Neighbor Totoro” themed carousel that spun really quickly and, with the proper lighting, would turn into a moving scene of Tatsuki and Mei playing with a jump rope, Catbus flying, Totoro on his umbrella and a parade of dust bunnies and other characters in the movie. It was fascinating to see it come to life.
My second favorite part was the theatre and the movie shown. I’m unsure of the name (I could never find it in English) but it was basically the story of an Egg Princess captured by a very gluttonous witch and rescued by a loaf of bread. (You would just have to see it.)
I will go ahead and say that I was a little underwhelmed by the Cat Bus room. This might be because the room was packed or because they wouldn’t let me on him or because he was much, much smaller than I had expected. (I really, REALLY wanted to get on him.) He was full of dust bunnies, though.
In fact, EVERYTHING was full of dust bunnies! The museum was so beautiful in the amount of detail that was paid to EVERYTHING. The outside patio (where you could get ice cream and snacks) looked like it was pulled from “Kiki’s Delivery Service,” the rooms dedicated to Hayao Miyazaki looked like you had stepped into a small animator’s room (literally papers push-pinned to walls, messy desk, jars of jelly beans, etc.) … Even the bathrooms had specific decor. The whole place was an experience. It was small and cramped, yes– but it was ABSOLUTELY everything I had hoped for and I am so excited to go back.
Something interesting that I noticed: Hayao Miyazaki’s accolades were nowhere to be found. Instead of singing his praises, the museum dedicated itself to showing you what he was inspired by. There was a room full of art books and graphic novels, movies and story books that were there to show you where his ideas came from. There was even a photo album with pictures of small European villages where some of the architecture of the museum was modeled after. Maybe it’s a cultural thing but, instead of Miyazaki using the museum to pat himself on the back, he used it as a doorway into his creative process.
It was incredible.
When we had seen the entirety of the museum (this includes various pictures with the Laputa robot on the roof) we decided to head to the Straw Hat Cafe for lunch. This is the cafe at the museum. What we didn’t count on was it being full of people or the fact that twenty people were waiting outside for the next available table (I don’t blame them.) We decided that we would go ahead and call it a day and try for the Straw Hat Cafe when we go to the Museum again at the end of the week.
Next to the museum is a park so we wandered that way after saying goodbye to Totoro at the gate. There was a festival going on called “Tokyo Green 2012.” It was full of exhibits explaining wind energy, organic farming, that sort of thing. Napkin and I spotted a few food trucks and had our first Omelette Rice experience! Omy-Eggy (I dont know its real name right now) is basically a fluffy egg over white rice and smothered in marinara sauce. It’s absolutely delicious. Weird? Sure. But totally good.
After eating, we wandered slowly back towards the Mitaka Station (passing the Ghibli bus on the way and waving at the children on board) and then made our way on the JR lines back to Shinjuku.
Then! New Friends! Gaijin bar! Karaoke! But that’s the next post.
Ki Wo Tsukete!