Friday 1 June, 2018
Day 2 / Tokyo
[Missed Day 1? Read the previous post here]
Today is the day we finally get to check out the Studio Ghibli Museum. Both Cheye and myself are fans of the movies having seen almost all of them.
After catching the JR line train to Mitaka station we make our way to the museum and Cheye picks up a bottle of his favourite drink ‘Orangina’. He tells me it’s the flavour that he likes but I think it has something more to do with the name. However we can’t buy it back at home so I’ll give him that one.
As we exit the station we see a stall selling Inari (sushi with tofu skin). Cheye has always said he wished there was a store that only sold Inari and we’ve finally found one!
We order a mixed box and eat them as we walk along the river.
The walk to the Museum is lovely and Mitaka is a really pretty town we could see ourselves living.
As we approach the museum there is a massive line-up circling the outside perimeter of the building, but everyone waits patiently for the queue to start moving.
The queue is made up of virtually all Japanese locals and we seem to be the only foreigners there.
As the line shuffles its way towards the entrance, we can see the front of the museum which is a quirky, colourful building from another world.
The lady checking tickets tells us that photos are allowed outside the museum but not inside. At the entrance we are given a map and a ticket for the short film. The ticket looks like a film negative from one of their movies.
The museum is fantastic. It’s fairly small, with three levels containing permanent and temporary exhibitions, plus a theatre showing a short film screening. There’s a giant plush cat bus from My Neighbour Totoro on the top floor for kids to play on, and on the rooftop is a huge statue of the robot soldier from Laputa Castle In The Sky.
The temporary exhibition is all about food – every food scene from every Studio Ghibli movie. As you exit there is a café area with a few food outlets.
Afterwards we meet my friend Joe who is visiting from the US to see his girlfriend. We decide to head to Shinokitazawa as Joe knows a vegan restaurant we can go to for lunch. We wander around for a bit and checking out the quirky stores.
Cheye is meeting Rory later as they’re heading to Abbey Road to watch a Beatles cover band, so he starts making his way while Joe and I search for the vegan restaurant. Unfortunately by the time we find it, it’s closed.
It turns out that most restaurants close between 3-5pm around this area so we try to find a place, any place, that might be serving food but all we can find are dessert cafes. We toss up whether we want dessert for lunch but decide to grab some lunch packs from Family Mart, another convenience store and sit on a bench to eat.
Joe has to head back west to meet his girlfriend Akiko. I decide to join them for a bit as I haven’t been to that part of Tokyo before. We catch the train to Tachigawa and wander to Tully’s coffee shop to meet Akiko.
The three of us decide since Cheye and Rory are having a boy’s night on the town, we are going to have a girl’s night so we go to hunt down some dinner at a large underground shopping area, which reminds me of David Jones Food Hall.
We do a few laps of that before settling for dinner at Vegetaria.
I get a tofu edamame salad which is really good.
Joe then says we are going to look for the girliest dessert place for our girl’s night but we are distracted by a big Japanese supermarket as both Joe and I really like international grocery stores. We spend the next half an hour wandering around, getting lost in the aisles and checking out quirky, Japanese products. I pick up a few things and by that time the idea of dessert is long forgotten. I catch the train back to Shibuya, which is pumping with people about to start their night out.
On the other side of town, Cheye and Rory meet up at an Izakaya in Ebisu for beers and yakitori before heading to Abbey Road.
Cheye and I went to Abbey Road the last time we visited Tokyo back in 2014. Despite having lived in Japan for five years, Rory isn’t even aware of Abbey Road so he’s in for a treat.
The cover band of the night is The Parrots and while they don’t speak a word of English, they sound exactly like the Beatles when they sing. They play four sets, with a mixture of hits across their entire catalogue, even taking a few requests.
JAPAN TRAVEL TIP #2:
If you intend to visit the Studio Ghibli Museum you do need to purchase tickets well in advance as they don’t sell them at the door and have a limited number available each day. We purchased ours about three weeks prior but some sites sell them up the three months beforehand. Prices are very reasonable at only 1000 yen (about AUD $12) but international sellers can charge as much as $30. This site will give you all the information and dates, just be sure to purchase from Lawson Ticket (option 2) and not JTB Group (option 1).