Must Visit For Ghibili Fans: The Ghibli Museum

I love Japan. I love their quiet and safe streets, beautiful places, temples, Zen gardens, food and more. I’ve visited Japan three times now, but I don’t mind going back if it means having another great time with my boyfriend. Sometimes if you’re lucky enough, you’ll find a boyfriend, a best friend and travel buddy rolled into one.

Guess where you are going today, milady?
Studio Ghibli!!

After he said that magical words to me, my brain started to accommodate Studio Ghibli-related things. It was now preoccupied of possible things await us.

Before this travel, we rewatched all the films made by Studio Ghibli. Yet, I still don’t have any idea that we are going to the Studio Ghibli Museum. Maybe because I assumed that it’s quite difficult to get a ticket reservation. They said that the museum can only accommodate 100 people. One of the reasons why a lot of people queue up to get reservations. And as a fan for quite a long time, I still can’t believe it’s really happening. He did “fucking” get us the tickets to Studio Ghibli! I was so happy I almost cried.

We joined a tour group. We have buffet food, comfortable bus, not having difficulty finding our way to the Ghibli Museum, and a friendly, professional tour guide. Our tour guide is awesome. You get the sense that she knows what she’s talking about. That she’s also a passionate fan. On top of my overwhelming excitement, I can also feel her excitement on her voice. And the moment she smiles, you immediately see why she was perfect for this job. She’s got this bright smile when she says, “Welcome everyone, my name is Miki” not Kiki from Delivery Service 🙂 Too bad I didn’t have her photo to show. I’m afraid and too shy to take a photo of her.

She explained really well our itinerary that day and provided some trivia about Studio Ghibli, Miyazaki’s favorites and what-not. How important the food is for Hayao in creating a story. Indeed, judging from his works, he always incorporates how important food in his story. This is one of the reasons why there were food replicas from the movies on display on the 2nd floor of the museum. She also mentioned a few beautiful spots to hang out inside the museum since she will not be joining us inside. It was a fun trip on the coach. Complete with interactive games provided by our tour guide where she will show a photo of food, then got to answer which film that food belongs to. I recognized some. Yay! She showed a photo of a chicken pot pie, no one seems to know that it’s from Kiki so I just said it out loud. So proud of myself. LOL

Photo by: Ghibli Museum review blog.

BUFFET at Hotel Gajoen

Our first stop is at Spirited Away’s bathhouse-inspired Hotel Gajoen, where we had our buffet lunch.

While having the fanciest lunch you could ever imagine, a couple next to us asked me who is my favorite Doctor. The girl had noticed my Doctor Who Tshirt that I’m wearing that day. I’m not one for big conversations with people I do not know, but I’m not rude either so I replied “I liked “Nine”. What’s yours?” She said she likes “Eleven”. I smile and replied back, “Eleven is really awesome as well”. We were like exchanging what’s our favourite number, but only Doctor Who fans would definitely get it.

Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, Japan is one of the top tourist spots in Tokyo. Inside and out of the museum was designed by Hayao Miyazaki. You can see the guard robot from the Castle in Sky movie on the terrace garden. I kind of hate it that they don’t allow taking photos inside. Be sure to take as many photos as you can outside. I don’t why it is important to have a physical visual of something beautiful we saw. Probably we want to provide evidence that such beautiful stuff exists.

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2 Weeks Happiness in Japan

I never thought of Japan as a romantic place until I explored it with my boyfriend. Yes, last year I went back to Japan. Spending days in Japan with him was absolutely fantastic. My all 4 happy hormones – endorphins, serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin (which is the most dominant, by the way!)- have reached their maximum level during that trip. Even now, when I’m trying to remember those precious moments we had, it feels like my brain is trying to produce more serotonin.

Meeting the boyfriend at the airport was one of the most exciting parts. After messaging him that I’m outside the JR ticket booth, I went to the bathroom and fix my face, hair, clothes, and everything that would make me feel fabulous. Then, I saw a man wearing a neon apple green hat. It’s him! Shouted my mind. Roller coaster of emotion overwhelmed me that day. Mostly nervous. It doesn’t matter now where we are, I am so preoccupied of the idea of him talking to my face, the idea that I’d be with him for 9 days, the idea of HIM.

Honestly, I contemplated on whether to write about this travel or not, but the urge to show you how exciting the trip was is strong. Fortunately, I felt the urge to write today. Blogging has always been therapeutic, especially when you wanted to read previous experiences you have written. You can always look back and reminisce. I will try my best to remember everything during this trip and consolidate it here.

While on the train going to Oshiage, he mentioned his favorite dungeons and dragons. I don’t have any idea what it’s all about but it sounded so awesome because he is awesome hehe. I’ve been in Japan before, although I know that he would love this trip (because why the hell not?), I’m still afraid to commit a mistake that would make him feel disappointed. I want this travel to be perfect at least.

It feels like we’re on the train the whole day. Along the way, the atmosphere has started to get colder due to a bit of rain outside. It was a chill and relaxing ride. The weather was about the same last year where we experienced a bit of rain on the first day then a hot summer feel for the rest of our stays.

We had the best 9 days of our lives, and it’s quite hard to sum it all up in one blog. So bear with me.

 

TOKYO SKYTREE

I think it’s already 5 o’clock in the afternoon when we arrived at Richmond Hotel Premier – just a block away from the majestic Tokyo Skytree. He always booked fancy hotels for us, which made me feel so special. Tokyo Skytree in the rain looks like an alien spaceship. Yes, it was that magical.

After exploring the panoramic view of the city from the tallest building in Japan (634 meters in height), we’re off to Coro Coro Comic Legend Cafe for our dinner time, only because we can’t find any other restaurants that are still open. In their menu, you can find so kawaii and Instagrammable food like this one:

 

HELLO AGAIN, AJISAI

We were greeted by the many colours of beautiful Ajisai in the garden of Hasedera. I’ve been here before, but it didn’t stop me from including it on our itinerary. I don’t mind seeing its spectacular beauty again. Its cheerful beauty was so contagious and it feels like you want to be cheerful all day.

THE NOODLE DUNGEON

It’s no surprise that one of our agendas visiting Japan is to try almost all of their delicious meal.

We have a feast in the Shin-Yokohama’s Ramen Museum. Ben called it “Noodle Dungeon”, which, if you’d ask me, is an appropriate description. Simply because the Ramen shops and cafes are located underground. The museum setting was based in Japan during 1958. To put it simply, it was like you’re in a studio where a film was being shot. If you know the film called Always Sunset on The Third Street, you get the idea of what I’m talking about. They made a tremendous effort to make it look like you’re in 1958. I’m serious! I was like, did I just leap through time? Oh, why 1958? Because the world’s first instant ramen was invented in 1958.

We were already starving when we got here, so the moment we saw a vending machine (where you can order a ramen) — right there and then, we indulge ourselves with their best ramen. Not even thinking nor realizing that there might be a lot of ramen restaurants to choose from downstairs. We don’t regret eating at our first stop though. Our tummies were happy.

I couldn’t finish my ramen, so I let him finish it. Believe me, I’m not so proud of myself that day for not finishing my ramen. I’m so full already!

 We forgot to take a pic before we demolished most of it. Sorry ^_^

ramen

 

WATER BUS – TOKYO CRUISE

Going to Hama Rikyu garden, we tried a different route. Exploring the Sumida River through what they called water bus – Tokyo Cruise is the best way to go. Note that the admission to the garden is already included in the price of the boat ticket. We got off to explore Hima Rikyu garden as the cruise will be traveling further to Odaiba. On board, you will notice a group of people in front. They were very helpful in naming the bridges and famous establishments around Tokyo Bay. To be honest, I don’t understand almost everything from their speakers, but hey, their panoramic view was enough for me to be entertained. This would be my first time to try the Tokyo cruise, and it was an enjoyable ride! What a super cool experience.

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JOAN IN JAPAN AT 30!

Travelling. Days when the only thing that matter is what are you going to eat for a day, and it doesn’t need to be budgeted. Everything you want.  Booking and planning all come easy for us. I know right there and then this trip is going to be a blast.

YU’s APARTMENT

The apartment greeted us with two beers and a welcome note from our hosts. Yay! Immediately, I knew I’d love our stay here. Since Yu and Taka weren’t there to welcome us, we received special instructions on how to let ourselves in prior to our trip. Challenging, isn’t it? We do really feel at home and we survived. A variety of liquors, food in the fridge, comics, and a lot of vinyl records are available, but yeah, food and drinks are not for free. I wonder if we’re allowed to play the LPs, because there’s a signage on the wall saying “Play music here”. But it wasn’t directly pointed to the Long playing. I should have asked Yu, but then again, I don’t know how to use that old school music player. By simply browsing their LP records, I can tell that our host had a good taste in music. They got The Beatles, Carpenters, Japanese orchestra records and a lot more. They are comfortable with the idea of allowing strangers in their house without qualms, without judging that they might be a burglar. Ha ha! Perhaps, there’s a CCTV or something. I mean, look at those comics? I can grab one without them realizing it. Plus those vinyl records.

Staying at Yu would probably one of the numerous reasons why I found my trip to be an unforgettable one. I highly recommend this apartment. Check Airbnb and message YU for reservation, quick.

SHIBUYA CROSSING

Hachiko greeted us before crossing Shibuya. Despite many people taking photos of him, we sneaked in. Got a picture with Hachiko, baby. We stayed at Starbucks for a more panoramic view of the busy city of Shibuya. Lovely. What’s the best food to have during rainy days? You bet. We walked and looked for Ramen!

ICHIRAN RAMEN

YES! We will be enjoying the rain while having our first Ramen at Ichiran. I accidentally ordered the Ramen with hard-boiled egg, as I pressed 1 instead of number 2 on their vending order machine. Whether I’m stupid to figure out that the price of the number 1 Ramen is different to the number 2 Ramen, or I get so excited to order something on the vending machine. LOL. That I would never know. Either way, it was fun. Guess what? I didn’t regret that stupid mistake. The hard-boiled egg was so worth it. If ever we’d go back, I’ll definitely order that again. 😛

ichiran ramen jaoan shibuya

One of the servers gets my order over the open space window and she immediately came back with my delicious ramen. She most definitely prepared it to perfection.

ichiran ramen japan shibuya

(A close-up shot of their yummy ramen)

Don’t tell me, this photo doesn’t dry your throat and craved for it?

Is it too early for me to judge and say it was the best food we had? Ha! Maybe, because it’s only our first day. You had me awed by your food already, JAPAN.

SHINJUKU

Strolling around Shinjuku is tiring. You should have a perfect meal in your mind after doing so. Especially if you can’t find where Godzilla head’s coming from. Just like us. The locals are so helpful, they told us where is Godzilla’s hideout. It’s standing on top of a building of a cinema — Toho Cinemas. A cool experience indeed. While making the jump shot and taking photos everywhere, we stumbled on this Robot Restaurant. “Roboto.. Roboto.. Roboto restaurant” — a catchy song from the restaurant’s speaker. Eating there is expensive, so nope.

Continue reading “JOAN IN JAPAN AT 30!”