Tribute to the Legendary Studio Ghibli
Today is the day, Ghibli Museum! But first let me emphasize the need to be kiasu. I’ve read that the tickets are very controlled and very limited. Online sales start on the 10th of each month, for the following month. Luckily for us, our stay in Tokyo spans across October and November. That is to say, I had two shots to get my tickets, on the 10th September and 10th October. Also, the ticketing starts at 9AM Singapore time. Needless to say, I was in front of my computer at 8:55AM, 10th September, and got our tickets at exactly 9 o’clock. Out of curiosity I went back to the site at noon, only to find out the entire month of October was sold out. Please, better damn well be on the dot if you want to get these tickets.
Ghibli Museum Mitaka
Enough of the crap talk, and on to our adventure at the museum. It was a 15 minute walk from Mitaka. But our aching legs (from yesterday) made the walk feel like a 24km route march. There were a lot of Japanese kids here, judging from their uniforms, it was likely a school excursion.
Pro-tip: Photography is not allowed in the inner sections so don’t bother bringing your gear there. But if you have some James Bond spy-cam or perhaps Google Glasses, go ahead.
The first thing we headed for is the cafe to take a coffee break. However the cafe was not opened yet. Thus we sat outside to have our packed bento box from the train station earlier on. Photos allowed here though.
Now this is really a one-of-a-kind museum. Everything was so intricate, and beautifully crafted. There were sections dedicated to their famed movies, e.g. My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service etc. It showcased how the artists painstakingly drew the artwork frame by frame, back in the days where there was no advanced computer software to produce cartoons. Admittedly, we haven’t watched a single Ghibli movie before, but I love their piano music.
We actually tried to take photos secretly, for keepsake. But it’s really not easy as there were staff everywhere. The only place for us to take pictures is the open area with that huge-ass robot from Laputa: Castle in the Sky.
Ramen at Kichijoji After Ghibli Museum
It was an equal distance from Ghibli Museum to either Mitaka or Kichijoji station. This morning we found nothing at Mitaka, so we headed to Kichijoji. We found a ramen stall, snuck in the rows of alleys.
While waiting to be served, we realized most of the customers had rice with their ramen. One of them had 3 bowls of rice along with his large bowl of ramen. Amazing. The storekeeper must have seen our stupefied looks, and asked if we needed rice to go with our ramen. We declined politely as we’re not even sure if we can finish that large bowl of noodles!
This is by far the best ramen we’ve ever eaten in both our Japan trips. The soup is tasty and yet doesn’t make you thirsty. This woman beside me finished the soup but didn’t eat finish the noodles.
The Creepy Anata No Warehouse
Located outside of downtown Tokyo is another picturesque attraction (or so we thought): Anata no Warehouse. Kudos to the designer of the building, the entire exterior looks like it survived World War II. We initially thought the place required an entrance fee, but we found out soon that it was free of charge and open to public.
The entrance to the arcade looks really creepy. Scaredy-cat Minmin kept jumping at every sound on our way in. However, once you enter the place, it is really not as scary as it seems. The five-story arcade facility in Kawasaki was specifically designed to look like the former Kowloon Walled City in Hong Kong. There were also ambient sound effects along the walkway to make you feel like you’re actually in Hong Kong.
Sad to say only the first level is designed in this way. The rest of the place on the second level is just a retro-themed arcade. Lots of claw machines, and old school game machines. We did spam some tokens playing random games cos it was cheap. Oh and they did a pretty good job in decorating the guys’ toilet. Looks damn run-down and you would have thought it smelt like rotting corpses in there. But no, it smells just like the 5-star hotel toilets in Singapore surprisingly.
Back to Shinjuku
Headed back downtown, and went to explore the Golden Gai area. There were tiny alleys, with lots of bars, clubs, and izakayas in the area. It was not our kind of thing.
We thought of going to The Lockup since we are at Shinjuku area. Fits the theme of the day since we’ve just came back from “Kowloon”. The theme of that restaurant was “prison cells”, here you basically eat like as though you were locked up. However we did not make any reservation, and the staff rejected us right in the face. No explanation, just pointed us to the exit. Our first encounter with such low levels of hospitality.
Is it because I’m Chinese? Is it because we’re not Japanese?
It was getting rather late and semi-disappointing. We followed our noses to where the nicest smells were and chanced upon a BBQ shop. Decided to go in for our dinner despite knowing that our jackets were going to smell bad.
A morning of fun at Ghibli Museum, an afternoon spent at Anata no Warehouse and an evening of meat. Before we ended our day, Lawson pudding for supper. Tomorrow we’ll be heading to the mountainous Karuizawa!