Monday, March 24, 2008
Studio Ghibli

One of the main events I planned for Heather's trip was a visit to the Ghibli Museum. It's a museum featuring the anime work of Studio Ghibli, the creators of classics such as My neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away, and Howls Moving Castle. I had to pick up tickets for this in advance as the museum only allows a certain number of people to visit per day and have set times at which groups of people can enter. Thus, I got my first experience at using the ticket purchasing machine at my local Lawson’s. These machines sell tickets to pretty much anything you could possibly want to go to. Disneyland, concerts, sumo, festivals, it's all available in one place. Because these machines sell so many types of tickets, it makes them a bit difficult to use as the hundreds of menus are difficult to navigate for a poor non-Japanese speaker such as myself. Luckily I found some easy to follow instructions specifically to help one get tickets to the Ghibli Museum and after about 4 tries and 30min, managed to walk away with 2 tickets.

The day of our excursion was a bit rainy, which was a bummer, but we didn't let that stop us! We hopped on the Chuo line and made it to Misaka in about 2 hours. From there we were planning on catching a bus that takes you straight to the museum, but the line for the bus seemed to stretch on forever so we decided to give our umbrellas a workout and walk to the museum. Although it was a rather wet option, I'm glad we walked as there are all sorts of cute Ghibli related things to take pictures of along the way.

Once at the museum we stored our stuff in lockers and began to explore the very maze-like museum. The first floor was one of my favorites. It focuses on the history and science of animation. There are all sort of displays used as models and many of them move around and create the illusion of a 3-d animation. Sadly, inside the museum, pictures are prohibited so no pics. Though, I doubt a picture would have been able to accurately capture the amazingness of the crazy 3-d moving pictures....umm......things. The second floor was done up like an animation studio. This area was pretty cool as well. You could flip through sketch books and look at story boards all relating to various Miyazaki films. There was also a bookstore, rooftop garden, theater, gift shop, restaurant, play area that had a life size catbus, and a huge statue of a robot from Castle in the Sky on the roof.

After browsing around we hit up the gift shop. I got myself a soot ball keychain (super cute!) and a pack of playing cards with characters from Princess Monanoke. The gift shop was super crowded so we didn't stay long. After the gift shop we left the museum but didn't get too far. The museum is located in Inokashira Park and even though it was raining, we decided to stop and enjoy the cherry blossoms. One bonus about the rain is that the park, which is normally overrun with visitors for hanami (cherry blossoms viewing and drinking), was empty so we got some nice pictures and could run around the park like crazies freely.

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