Helpful tip for travellers: this needs to be booked in advance and can be done up to three months out. Talk to your travel agent for help on this.
Day 4 Plan:
- Ghibli Museum
For the first block of the trip, the Inside Japan Tokaido Trail tour was recommended to me by a friend. It looked good, and I knew she had a good time on this tour, so that’s what I went with. This will make some of the upcoming itinerary guessable. 🙂
- I’ll meet the tour guide and group in the evening.
- I may also be trying to meet up with someone in Japan. Watch this space.
Day 4 Actual:
Once again I have hopefully helpful instructions from Inside Japan on how to get there:
- Tokyo Metro Ginza (which autocorrect wanted to turn into Gonzalez) Line to Kanda
- JR Chou Line Rapid to Mitaka
- Walk or community bus from Mitaka station
I didn’t get lost this time! Of course the really nifty sign posts along the way helped with that. I did also ask at the local tourist office and they pointed me to the first sign, and from there it was easy. The signs themselves are almost works of art:
The walk through Mitaka is really quite pleasant, especially once you get to the tree lined path away between the road and what I think was a sports complex.
And then you get that first glimpse of the museum itself before walking around to the actual gate:
Inside The Museum
The Museum is amazing. One of the things about the films of Studio Ghibli is an understanding of motion, of how things move, and of how to replicate that convincingly in animation.
However no photos are allowed inside the Museum, and I abided by that restriction. Plenty of photos taken outside though, see the gallery below for details.
The first exhibit basically demonstrates that understanding in physical form, and places it in context of the history of animation. One of the displays is a Phenakistiscope, and that is used to place other displays in context. For example there’s essentially a 3D version with a statue of a Laputa robot that rotates whilst images of birds flying up are projected on the walls of the rotating column.
Another display is a rotating set of models that, when spun up under a strobe, provide a physical appearance of motion – a cat bus running, Totoro jumping up and down, Satsuki riding a unicycle, Mei skipping as Satsuki and a smaller Totoro hold the rope.
The “how a film starts” exhibition also provided a look into the creative processes of Studio Ghibli and the vast distances between concepts and designs.
The non-permanent exhibition is, given what he said about Spirited Away, probably going to make Grant Watson cry that he missed it. This exhibition is dedicated to the food of the Ghibli films, how they were storyboarded, the effects that the directors were going for, etc. A significant chunk, basically an entire wall, is the storyboarding of the rice ball scene in Spirited Away where Chihiro faces the reality of her situation and breaks down crying as she eats. For me though the highlights of this exhibition were the exquisitely detailed life size replicas of the kitchens of My Neighbor Totoro and Laputa: Castle in the Sky. As in: walk through them detailed (and take your shoes off before the Totoro kitchen because you have to cross the tatami mats first).
Outside The Museum
As for the outside the architecture of the building is amazing (and this is replicated inside), and I hope the many photos will reflect this. However here’s some of the best shots:
I took some photos for some of the other visitors, and in return they took this one of me with the Laputa robot that’s on the roof:
Oh, and there’s a working pump like the one in My Neighbour Totoro in the courtyard:
After lunch in Mitaka where apparently BLT sandwiches include egg and come as a set including a green tea based dessert, I returned to Tokyo where hilarity ensued.
The Comedy of Errors and Frog-Kun
Ok, so Frog-Kun is an Australian aniblogger now working for the Anime News Network in Tokyo. We’ve been mutually following each other on Twitter for a while now, so it was logical to try and meet up.
Except I only have roaming phone access with, apparently, terrible connections. Even when Frog-kun did manage to call me, I didn’t get a caller ID so I couldn’t return the calls, and half the time we couldn’t hear each other anyway.
Frog-kun hasn’t been to Asakusa before, and didn’t know the station. There are two exits from the maze of tunnels with the same number -A4 and 4. I thought I said A4, Frog-Kun thought I said 4, and much running around ensued. This included me getting lost briefly since I hadn’t managed it this morning (yes, I’m laughing at myself here, I may as well under the circumstances).
Eventually I managed to leech some wi-fi from somewhere (don’t ask me where, I have no idea), and we managed to sort it out via DMs on twitter.
So once our comedy of errors was resolved, we managed to get an hour or chatting in a coffee shop over Hot Chocolates. Very civilised, and we’ll be trying for another meet up later in the trip. Yes, this does mean that Frog-Kun has a very good idea of what the rest of the trip involves, and no, Frog-kun won’t be spoiling it. Because Frog-kun is awesome and will no doubt enjoy being one of the people in the know. 😄
After the friendly chat with Frog-kun, I returned to the hotel to meet the Tokaido Trail tour group and have dinner with the group. Looks like a good bunch of people and I think the tour leader Brett will make it awesome (spoiler: he did). Tomorrow is the start of the Tokaido Trail tour proper, and I’m looking forward to it.
And here’s the Google Photos gallery for today. NB: Every so often when I log into Google Photos the assistant will have automatically processed some stuff (stylising and/or creating panoramas). I’m generally saving these into the same albums.
Other bits and pieces to note: In the first photo I’m not sure of the brand (I got it in JB Hi-Fi) but the plug adaptor I’m using has 4 USB ports. This has already simplified my life significantly.
In the middle are some absolute rarities. Don’t expect many more of those this trip.
In the last photo, well, that’s not all of my loot from the Mamma Auito! shop but some of it is secret. And staying packed until my return. And to certain people who are hopefully reading this blog (you know who you are), no, you cannot have my Totoro and Jiji plushies. You may borrow them however when you visit for gaming and anime however. 😜
Speaking of the loot: