Japan 2015 – Part 4

Having returned from Hakone, we spend the rest of the evening relaxing at our hotel room. The next morning, after breakfast at the hotel, we went to one of the malls in the train station to eat some cake…

Delicious! After that, we took the train to Sun Road, which was a sort of outdoor market selling all sorts of stuff. It sort of reminded me of Dongdaemun Market in Korea, but a lot cleaner and less touristy. The vast majority of shoppers were Japanese people, or students on field trips.

There was a famous meatball place, called Steak House Satou. The upstairs was a restaurant proper, that served delicious steak, but since we didn’t have a lot of time, we joined the majority of people who were queued up for a delicious meatball or two (or three…).

What were we doing that we didn’t have time to go enjoy a delicious steak, you ask? Well, we were booked to go to *drum roll please* the Ghibli Museum! If you haven’t been living under a rock all these years, and/or know something about Japanese animation, you will know about Studio Ghibli, the masterminds behind masterpieces like My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, and countless others. Anyway, the Ghibli Museum is the official museum of the studio, and to get in, you have to pre-register for a time-slot; you can’t actually buy tickets at the gate! That’s how popular and packed they usually are.

The tickets we received were actually little bits of plastic with scenes from various Ghibli films printed on them, so if you raise them to the sky, you could see the stills. I got some stills from Ponyo, which I was quite chuffed about:

While we weren’t really allowed to take pictures INSIDE the museum and of the exhibits, we were allowed to take shots of the grounds and the buildings and things like that. Everything was a homage or a reference to some Ghibli film:

While the museum was very cute and there were a lot of cool little hidden Easter eggs from the various animation films, it was a little lackluster in that it was VERY commercialized. The gift shop took up approximately a third of the size of the whole museum, and while it was chock full of popular Ghibli films like My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away, other less-famous films seemed to be a little neglected in their exposure, which made me quite sad since Princess Mononoke (an earlier Ghibli film) is actually my favorite film. The other third of the museum was the Museum Cafe and Restaurant, which we couldn’t even sit inside because there was an hour long wait, and the other third were the actual exhibits. At least we got to eat some delicious persimmon flavored ice-cream outside?

We next went to the Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum, which was located conveniently right next to the Ghibli Museum. It was an outdoor museum, filled with recreations and actual buildings from the Edo Period in Tokyo. There were a lot of different period houses, public buildings, stores, and even bathhouses, which was very interesting. Another plus about this was that all the exhibit plaques were both in Japanese AND English, so I could read all about the historical background and uses for the different buildings.

I was most interested in the buildings with copper plating lining the facade. They had turned green with age now, but they were once a popular style of billboard-style architecture, designed after the Great Kanto Earthquake.You can actually see the scratches on the metal surface, from bomb fragments from the bombing of Tokyo during World War II.

After our lovely look around the Edo-Tokyo Architectural Museum, it was getting time for dinner. Before dinner though, we stopped to grab some Takoyaki at a tiny hole-in-the-wall. Yum yum yum!

For dinner though, we went to a tiny restaurant that only had 4 tables, in the basement of an office building. This was somewhere that my cousin liked to eat at, since it was so close to her university campus. I’m not entirely sure what it was that I ate, but it was delicious.

On our way back to the hotel though, I just had to stop at this donut store. They were selling adorable animal-themed donuts! And of course I had to get one…

Om nom nom.

Signing off,
Marie

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