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Unread 17 Oct 19, 01:50 PM  
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Gr8WideSomewher
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When you gachapon a star: Tokyo Disney and Japan 2019 - Day 5

Welcome back to the trippie, folks! For once I don't have to apologise about taking ages because I've actually been relatively speedy this time. And Day 6 is already written so shouldn't be too long for that one either!

Thank goodness we were able to have a bit of a lie-in on this day, because it had been a crazy one the day before. We were both mostly packed already, but woke up at 7.45 to finish off the last few bits. Then we showered and got dressed - it was looking like another hot day, but with an unwelcome side of wet and clammy. Awesome.

This day is likely to be quite short, mainly because I have very few pictures from it. As you will see, we spent most of the day at the Studio Ghibli Museum and sadly taking pictures there isnt allowed, so this one may not be that interesting, especially if you dont know Ghibli movies very well.

We finally checked out and left at 8.45, catching the free bus to Maihama Station, which is the train station for the Disney Parks and Ixpiari.




We were extremely sorry to be leaving our beautiful hotel, and Bex was already formulating devilish plans to cancel our booking at the capsule hotel we were due to stay in at the end of the hotel, and book us in at Tokyo Bay again instead. She hadnt told me about these plans yet though - she likes to lull me into a false sense of security and then spring these things on me when she knows Im in a good mood. Its an excellent strategy.

Pulling our heavy cases around the station was a bit of a nightmare in the heat. Plus my case had broken on the way out (cant remember if I mentioned this), meaning that the telescope handle couldnt go out and in anymore, and kept pinching my hand.

Luckily the station wasnt too big and confusing on this occasion (boy did we have some big and confusing stations in our future ), and we caught the train into Tokyo without any trouble.

Note: for most of the trip we used Suica cards for train travel within cities, which you can top up in all of the stations and which you swipe at the barriers like an Oyster card. We bought this in advance of arriving in Japan and picked it up at the airport. The card costs 500 yen (3.60) and then you can preload it with an amount. We could have just bought it when we arrived, but picking it up at the airport was very straightforward. For longer journeys we had a JR Pass. For the most part these were easy to use and it was pretty clear which trains we could use the different passes on. The JR Pass cost around 215 for a week and included unlimited travel (with a few exceptions e.g on the fastest intercity trains). In the end we used the JR Pass for two long intercity journeys and five shorter journeys. As a single intercity ticket usually costs in the region of 90-100 it was worth it cost wise for us. When we travelled you had to buy the JR Pass before arriving in Japan and then take the documentation to the train station to pick up the actual pass. Anyway more on the intercity trains and JR Pass another day...

We took the train to Central Tokyo Station and then walked for 10 minutes to find our hotel. Once again it was hot and awkward, but at least we only got lost once. It is pretty much impossible to find your way around anywhere in Japan without access to Google Maps. Bex had hired a portable internet thingummy in Tokyo Airport before I arrived and we pretty much relied on it. This cost 90 for 17 days and we could use multiple devices. Luckily Google Maps is pretty reliable not only for directions, but for public transport too.

Our hotel was Abest Ginzakyobashi which was on a side street, in a tall, narrow building. We checked in easily and dropped off our cases, but of course werent allowed to go up to our room yet. The receptionist let us fill up our water bottles (extremely necessary in the horrible heat) however, and then we went straight back out.

We walked to Kyobashi Underground Station which was about 4 minutes walk from the hotel. The location of the hotel was really good, with two underground stations and the big Central Tokyo Station all within 10 minutes walk.

The journey to the museum was long and somewhat complicated, but we had known that would be the case. We left two hours for the journey, which involved two trains and a bus. To give you an idea, Disney is on the outskirts beside the sea in the East of Tokyo, our hotel was bang in the centre and the Museum was way off in the West.




Google informed us that the trip would only take one hour, but we wanted to be certain we made it on time (as you are given a specific entrance time for the museum) and this would be our first time using Tokyo public transport. In the end I think the trip took about an hour and a half.

We did stop briefly at the train station nearest to the museum (Mitaka) which did add to the journey time. We picked up some lovely cold juices on the platform of the station - these were extremely welcome.



I cant remember exactly what flavour they were, but they were made fresh in front of us from real fruit, and we then hung around the stall to drink them. We had heard that drinking and eating in the street are seen as rude in Japan, so we didnt want to take the drinks with us.



When wed finished the drinks we went outside the station and caught the bus. We had no difficulty finding it, as it is bright yellow and says Studio Ghibli Museum on the side of it. Also the platform marker was shaped like Totoro.




We used the Suica card on the bus to pay for this part of the journey.

We arrived at the museum at 11:30, with our entry time set for 12:00. Wed actually timed things pretty well, despite not knowing the public transport routes at all, but because the day was so hot and humid, and we hadnt eaten anything yet, we were a bit frustrated not to be able to get in for another half hour.





We took some pictures of the outside of the building - youre allowed to take photographs outside, but none inside - and then sat in the shade of some trees for a few minutes.




Bex was keen for us to be near the front of the queue when we were allowed in however, as we were making straight for the cafe and had heard the queues for that could be hours long, so she didnt let me sit for long.

In the end they let us in a bit early. We queued outside for maybe 10 minutes (including passing by a ginormous Totoro in a ticket booth - for a moment I thought he was going to ask us for our tickets!) and then inside for another 5.



"Two for the catbus, please."

We had to bring our passports to pick up the tickets. Booking them was also a bit challenging. You can't book them through their website unless you read Japanese so you need to find an agent to do it for you. They will do so for a nominal fee but you do need to get in touch early as the tickets are all released on a specific day of the month and sell out instantly. I think we contacted an agent at least 7 weeks out and told them when we could go with several options. In the end the tickets cost 25 each with the agent fee which was good. The agent sent the tickets for pick up at our Disney hotel when we arrived.

Inside, the museum was unimaginably beautiful, and we both wanted to explore every inch of it, but lunch first! Every review you read about the Ghibli Museum mentions the Straw Hat Cafe, what a delight it is, and how good the food is, so wed been saving ourselves for a special lunch. You can also buy hotdogs in the courtyard of the museum, which obviously arent as expensive as the cafe, but we wanted to treat ourselves.

In order to maintain the lovely, peaceful atmosphere of the cafe, they only allow a small number of people in at once, which is why the queues can get absolutely insane. We got fairly lucky, however. We only queued for about 15 minutes, and some of that was in the seated section of the queue. I think we eventually got seated at 10 past 12, which is really pretty good.

It had been a long, hot, sweaty and somewhat exhausting morning, so the cafe seemed like an absolute haven! It is really beautiful in there, with very subtle references to Ghibli films in some of the decor; for example, Ghibli-themed lampshades and a hatstand where some straw hats were hanging. There is also a skylight, so its very light, airy and peaceful. The waiters and waitresses were absolutely lovely of course. We were told we could take photographs of the food, but not of the surroundings, which was fair enough.





The menu was very tempting and we spent quite a long time poring over it before we made up our minds. It should be noted that the museum cafe is not cheap. One of the main meals would set you back at least 1500 yen 10.90, and a slice of cake is about 800 yen/5.80. None of that seems too bad, and is certainly a lot less than what youd pay in a London museum , but as you know, we were budgeting, so we had to be careful with what we spent on food throughout the holiday.

We eventually decided to share the pork cutlet sandwich (1100 yen/8) and a bowl of soup (450 yen/3.30). Bex had a lemonade (600 yen/4.40) and I, of course, had an iced latte (500 yen/3.60).






The food and drink were all absolutely delicious. Very fresh and yummy. The soup was very creamy and slightly sweet; the sandwich was huge and delicious with lots of juicy meat in it. It was the best of the many sandwiches wed eaten up until that point, and might have been the best of the whole trip. Japanese sandwiches as uniformly excellent! The soup and sandwich combined was also plenty of food for two people, even though we were really hungry and hadnt eaten anything yet that day.

Afterwards we shared a slice of the strawberry short cake, which was a crumbly cake with lots of extremely creamy berry mousse between the layers. It was light and scrummy and again definitely enough shared between two. It cost 500 yen (3.60). It was our favourite part of the already fantastic meal; was Japan turning us into dessert people?




But enough about the cafe, what about the museum? As I said, photos werent allowed inside the building, so I wont be able to show you any of what we saw, but I tried to take notes of every room so I could describe it, just in case any of you are planning any trips to Tokyo any time soon and happen to be a fan of Ghibli. Doing the cafe first was definitely a good idea, as most of the people we entered with went to do the museum first, meaning the line was much shorter. The only downside to this was that when we did enter the museum, we went in with a school group, which seemed to be made up of about 50 kids . They were allowed to roam freely by their teachers and were extremely noisy. They were at least as disruptive as taking photos would have been!

I would say if youre a fan of Ghibli this museum is an absolute must-see, but even if youre not its a wonderful insight into the artistry of animated films. Also just the building itself and the displays are basically works of art - it rivals the Natural History Museum and the Musee DOrsay for most beautiful museum Ive been to, though obviously its on a much smaller scale.



However, I understand if you might not be interested in this bit, which will be mostly devoid of pictures, so Ill put in a marker and you can skip over it if you like!

:s pin:

Hi, my name's Rosie and I'll be your guide today around the Ghibli Museum, Mitaka!

On the outside the building looks a bit Gaudi-inspired, but the interior is a bit sort of Victorian/Edwardian. There is lots of dark, polished wood, heavy wooden furniture and stained glass in the windows. There are two floors and a roof, with rooms on every floor. You climb up a winding staircase in the middle of the room to get from floor to floor.




The rooms on the bottom floor were: a little cinema where you watch a film made specially for the museum (we decided to do this last), and a room with old-fashioned film-making equipment. In this room we saw a big sort of dolls house, where you opened the different windows to find characters and scenes from the various films. As far as I could see nearly all the films were represented. There was also a 3D zoetrope with characters from My Neighbour Totoro.


I found this picture of the zoetrope on the internet, so youd know what I mean. When the thing spins it looks like Mei is jumping rope, the catbus is running etc.

Finally, there were lots of little layered scenes made of paper, like paper theatres, with an artistic style similar to the Ghibli films, though I dont think any of them were actual released films. I could be wrong, because though I have seen a lot of the Ghibli films, I havent by any means seen all of them.

What was more, the information in the museum was entirely in Japanese, so we had to take guesses at what each display was meant to depict. This was mostly a matter of Bex taking a look at the characters and saying That one looks a bit like the Chinese character for colour - I think this must be about colour palettes, or something like that. I tried to use the Google Translate app at one point, but it wasn't working very well and I didnt want anyone to think I was trying to take pictures, as using the app meant holding my phone up to the displays and using the camera function.

We climbed the stairs to the first floor and went into a room styled like an old-timey sitting room and office for an artist or writer. There were hundreds of watercolours and line drawings pinned to boards and on the walls depicting moments and characters from the films. We pored over them all pointing out our favourites and bemoaning the fact that a) we couldnt take any pictures and b) we couldnt just rip these all off the walls and take them home with us! The room also contained lots of artwork, photos and books not related to the films, but which had obviously inspired Miyazaki and the other artists who worked on them. There were also some photos of people whod worked on the films, including Miyazaki himself who is something of a silver fox! There was also lots of rolls of film that you could feed into a traditional hand-cranked machine which, when you turned the handle, would play the film for you.

The next room seemed to be focusing on the characters and how their faces had been animated. There were lots of big recreations of scenes from Totoro, and life-size cutouts of the main characters, Satsuki and Mei. There was also an exploration of colour in the different films and some depictions of how some of the effects, such as wind and water, were created.

We went up to the next floor, unfortunately catching up to the rowdy children. We walked through a gallery showing original posters for some of the films, before skirting around the edge of a room in which there was a massive, soft-play catbus which the children were playing on. This area was absolutely insane and though I would have liked a closer look at the catbus (even a little look inside, if Im honest - who doesnt want a ride in the catbus? ) there was no way that was going to be a possibility.

So we went outside onto the veranda and then up onto the roof, where it was much quieter.



The showpiece of the roof is the robot from Laputa so of course we took a couple of pictures with it. The weather was still unpleasantly hot, grey and humid, but the roof garden was much cooler and more pleasant than anywhere else.





We stayed up in the roof garden for about 20 minutes, before coming down and heading into the bookshop on the second floor.






It was a very traditional old-style bookshop and there were some beautiful The Art of books in there that we were quite tempted by. Particularly The Art of The Tale of Princess Kaguya, which was animated using watercolours and is one of the most beautiful Ghibli films.

As well as the cafe, its also important to leave time for the giftshop when you come to the Ghibli Museum, and not just because it takes a while to take in all the cool stuff they have for sale. It is also absolutely mental in there, and could do with a bit more room, or some crowd management . We squeezed through the crowds as best we could, looking at the models and figurines, puzzles, cuddly toys, jewellery, postcards, t-shirts and posters. I was quite tempted by the postcards and a cuddly Ponyo; Bex liked a tote bag and a cushion, both with designs depicting quite a lot of the different Ghibli characters, however they were quite expensive for what they were. There were quite a few things, in particular the t-shirts and socks, which looked nice from afar, but which we couldnt really get near because it was so crowded. A lot of the children were in there at the time and they were literally bouncing off the walls . In the end it got to me a bit (I find crowds very tiring and stressful) so I went outside and sat on a bench for a bit. Bex soon joined me and made calming noises.

We decided to go downstairs and watch the movie. We had been given little tickets with sections of filmstrip in them and been told we could use them at any time. Mine had a still from Ponyo and Bexs was from Grave of the Fireflies. Luckily they didn't take the tickets from us when we entered the little cinema. We waited about 15 minutes for the film to start while the cinema filled up.

The film ended up being a very cool, weird short about a witch and her servant, who is an egg. The egg befriends a dough man which the witch bakes by accident, and they sort of save the town from the witch. There wasn't any dialogue, but the soundtrack was really baroque-sounding and fantastic. The art style looked a bit like Howls Moving Castle, though the witch was very similar to Yubaba from Spirited Away. Overall it was magnificent and very, very Ghibli.

Afterwards we decided to brave the shop again. It was quieter now and it was much easier to look around and take everything in. We decided eventually to buy three postcards each and a keyring - my second in two days! My keyring was No Face from Spirited Away and Beckys was Gigi from Kikis Delivery Service. The range of keyrings was absolutely fantastic - they had basically every character stored in a really cute way in little drawers.




Then it was time to leave. We took a few more photos of the outside of the building, before finally tearing ourselves away. It was an absolutely fabulous museum and a wonderful tribute to those stunning movies.





:s pin:

We caught the bus to the train station and then went to look for the train back into Tokyo. We got a bit confused as to what platform we were supposed to on (there seemed to be two going in the same direction) but we worked it out before the train arrived. Bex had a bad tummy and so was feeling a crappy by this point. The hour long journey back into Tokyo really wasnt fun.

I was also very much on my last legs (or feet really) and wished we were going straight back to the hotel, but we needed to stop at Shinjuku Station first to pick up our train tickets for the next day. Finding our way through the station was not the easiest thing in the world, but we managed eventually, and bought train tickets to Hakone for the following day. It was a relief to know where wed be leaving from the following morning.

The tickets were 11400 Yen (82) for the both of us plus access to the special romance carriage 700 yen (5.10) each. This included the train to Hakone, access to all transport around Hakone (wed be taking quite a few types of public transport) and discounts on entrance to some museums etc.

The woman who sold us the tickets probably had the best English of anybody we met in Japan. She told us, in a dry tone, that there had been some volcanic activity and a little earthquake in the area that wed be going to the following day, so part of the route was cancelled. She said it in such a matter-of-fact way that we were like Coolcoolcool no big, we eat volcanic activity for breakfast and it was only after we stepped away that we turned to each other like Did she say volcanic activity?

After that we took the underground back to Kyobashi Station. We decided to pick up a hotel room picnic at the 7Eleven for our tea, as wed heard that convenience stores in Japan did absolutely fantastic food. Bex said this was definitely true, as shed bought food from a convenience store in the airport when shed first arrived, but since she considers ham sandwiches the height of sophistication I had yet to be convinced.

The shop had tonnes of choice however, and I was excited to try things I hadnt tried before. We bought loads of food, so as to have options, which we then squirreled back to the hotel. I havent written down how much it was, but it was cheap.

Once back in the hotel we checked in properly and dragged our cases up to our room. It was 18:00 at this point. I forgot to take a picture when we first entered unfortunately, but this was easily the least nice of the hotel rooms we stayed in Japan, though it did have character. It was about a metre wide and maybe three metres long, with the beds arranged back to back, rather than side by side. When my suitcase was on the floor next to my bed, Bex couldnt get past it to use the bathroom - it wasnt the best layout ever and there was nowhere to put anything. It was pretty comfy as long as you didn't put your feet on the floor though, and as long as I resisted my usual instincts to be as messy as possible, it would remain so.

We messed around for about an hour and half, showering and settling in, then ate our bed picnic. I had some fried pork with rice and noodles (there was no sauce so these things did not go together at all), an onigiri and a mango beer. It was nothing spectacular, but it hit the spot. The beer in particular was very nice - I hadnt realised it was alcoholic until I got it back to the hotel room, and it was very welcome. Im afraid I havent written down what Bex had for tea and she didnt photograph it so that will remain a mystery. I imagine it was some egg sandwiches of some kind and maybe a salad.




While we were eating, Bex set up her laptop so we could watch Journey to the Centre of the Earth with Brendan Fraser , as wed promised ourselves we would, in honour of DisneySea. Man, its a bad movie.

I checked the step counter before bed and it informed me wed done 12,276 steps, which seemed rather low to me. We were completely exhausted anyway, and turned the lights out at 21:45 - we had no trouble at all getting to sleep.
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Unread 17 Oct 19, 03:20 PM  
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Rae21
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Another great day! Im planning a trip to the Ghibli Museum so this was very helpful (Im hoping to book online as the tickets are 1000 each - need to be ready at 12am on the 10th April which will be fun)
Looking forward to your Hakone trip as Im looking into this as well 😄
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Unread 17 Oct 19, 06:30 PM  
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TeFiti
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I'm too planning on trying for Ghibli tickets, thanks for a fantastic write up! What agent did you use?
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Unread 17 Oct 19, 08:14 PM  
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What a fab day. Navigating the city sounds pretty tricky but you both did well. I'm a huge fan of the ghibli movies and still make the kids Ponyo noodles now, we all loved that movie. You're really tempting me with Japan.
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Unread 18 Oct 19, 09:34 AM  
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Gr8WideSomewher
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Originally Posted by Rae21 View Post
Another great day! Im planning a trip to the Ghibli Museum so this was very helpful (Im hoping to book online as the tickets are 1000 each - need to be ready at 12am on the 10th April which will be fun)
Looking forward to your Hakone trip as Im looking into this as well 😄
Yey, thanks for reading Good luck getting the Ghibli tickets, it is totally worth it!

Hakone day is written, just sorting through some photos.

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Unread 18 Oct 19, 09:52 AM  
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Originally Posted by TeFiti View Post
I'm too planning on trying for Ghibli tickets, thanks for a fantastic write up! What agent did you use?
Awesome, it's totally worth doing! We used voyagin. govoyagin/activities...SAAEgLUgvD_BwE

We actually used them for a lot of bookings, including suica, the internet dongle and Universal Studios too I think.

Happy trip planning!
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Unread 18 Oct 19, 10:14 AM  
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Originally Posted by Goldia View Post
What a fab day. Navigating the city sounds pretty tricky but you both did well. I'm a huge fan of the ghibli movies and still make the kids Ponyo noodles now, we all loved that movie. You're really tempting me with Japan.
Navigating was tricky, but definitely manageable with Google. We thought we'd get totally lost trying to find the right platforms and things, but Google tells you what platform to go to and even what part of the train you're likely to get a seat in!

I love Ponyo, it's so delightfully weird, and of course the visuals are gorgeous.

Of course I would highly recommend Japan. I'd go again in a heartbeat, even just for the food!
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Unread 5 Nov 19, 07:40 PM  
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Originally Posted by Rae21 View Post
Another great day! Im planning a trip to the Ghibli Museum so this was very helpful (Im hoping to book online as the tickets are 1000 each - need to be ready at 12am on the 10th April which will be fun)
Looking forward to your Hakone trip as Im looking into this as well 😄
My DH booked tickets at a stupid hour and said the website was very difficult but worth it! You need your passport's handy and the name of your hotel (they didn't check our passports on the actual day though). Good luck!
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