06 Aug 2014 Day 8: Ghibli Museum, Kichijoji and Kato hobby store.
Getting to the Ghibli Museum
This morning we were going to the Ghibli Museum. I thought it would be best to go to the first opening time which is 10am. We had purchased our tickets three months in advance from home via the JTB website. We were able to get a direct train from Yoyogi station to Mitaka station. It is a 24 minute ride and we got on a train at about 9am. Once at Mitaka station, we followed signs to the exit and began walking towards Inokashira park, where the museum is located. We passed by the yellow bus with Studio Ghibli characters painted on the side, that goes from the station to a stop near the museum. We decided to walk the 1.4 km and enjoyed the scenery. Along the way were signposts stating how many metres to reach the Ghibli Museum.
We reached the entrance about ten minutes to 10 o’clock and after looking at the large Totoro and soot sprites at the ‘pretend’ ticket booth, we joined the back of the line. While waiting in line, a staff member came to check our ticket. Right on 10 o’clock someone rang a bell and the large stain-glass doors opened. We were given our tickets which are in the form of a movie strip with different film negatives on each one, such a great souvenir.
After leaving our stroller in the designated area, we headed straight for the theatre room to watch the short film. The theatre room’s ceiling is painted as a sky with a sun and a moon and the walls feature painted flowers. Looking at all of this kept Fletcher entertained while waiting for everyone to take their seats and the film to start. It had minimal dialogue so there was no problem with understanding it. It was a great animation and the three of us really enjoyed it. We then made our way around each room of the museum. One room had a great display of 3D characters from “My Neighbour Totoro”. There were several figurines spread around a rotating plate, when a strobe light flashed, the figurines appeared to jump and move around. There were several other great displays, they were a little hard to get to as the room was very crowded. Upstairs showed what Hayao Miyazaki’s creative spaces might look like with many sketches placed around on the walls.
We came to the room with the large life-size cat bus that children are allowed to play on during short intervals. Fletcher wanted a turn but he was getting tired at this stage after walking around viewing the museum. There was a roped off line that the children had to stand in and wait for their small groups turn to enter. I put Fletcher at the back of the line and stood next to him. He wasn’t keen on standing in line by himself so I picked him up and a staff member indicated that it was fine for me to do so and made a point that he was part of that sectioned off group. There was one or two groups in front of Fletcher’s and he wasn’t keen on waiting his turn, not understanding why he couldn’t go and play like the other kids. I said he would get to go and play on the cat bus but he had to wait for his turn. He soon got completely over it and started crying. I wasn’t sure whether to wait it out or give up our place and have him miss out on getting to go in the Cat bus. It was clear he was just too tired, so we left and went outside in the hopes he would calm down. He didn’t. He was worn out and now beyond any reasoning. We went back downstairs, got our stroller and cut our visit of the museum.
We strapped Fletcher in the stroller and set out to walk around Inokashira park. Despite being a tired wreck, Fletcher was refusing to sleep. After saying he wanted food, I gave him a banana and we kept on walking. He settled down and soon spotted a playground. Feeling bad that he didn’t get a go on the cat bus, we let him out for a play, at least he would burn any left over energy and then be ready for a sleep. After several times climbing up steps and going down a slide, we called time and back in the stroller he went. Inokashira park wasn’t the nice strolling area I had envisioned before our visit, I was unaware that the park’s pond had been completely drained and several of the grounds around were off-limits due to restoration works.
With Fletcher asleep we decided to walk around the Kichijoji area. We had no sense of direction so entered Kichijoji station into Google Maps. Fletcher stayed asleep for quite some time so we walked down many streets, passed the station, bought a ‘melon pan’ bun to eat and walked some more. When he woke up, Fletcher’s mood was no better so we decided to just go to McDonald’s for lunch as we knew he would eat it. I ordered a kids set meal as well so we could get more of the cool bullet train toys. Japan McDonald’s offer kids meals with a cup of hot corn as a side instead of fries, so you can feel like you’re being healthier.
We went back to the apartment for a break before heading to the Kato hobby center. In true form we exited the station and started walking in the wrong direction before realising our mistake and turning back around. Tim was relying on Google maps and it clearly wasn’t working. I got him to go on the center’s websites and we followed the rough map provided. The directions mentioned we would walk past a cat statue, we never spotted it but we did spot the red train out the front of the Hobby center.
The bottom level was a store, filled with many different products. Tim was looking for parts for a model train and had to ask the staff when he couldn’t find it. They were helpful and he bought what he needed. There was also a large running model train set up that Fletcher and I watched while Tim was looking around the store. Upstairs was an area that had several tracks set up that you can bring your trains in to use or run your newly purchased items on. Fletcher enjoyed watching people testing out their trains. One teenage boy had a stack of boxed train sets with him. Fletcher needed his nappy changed and I was pleasantly surprised to find there were great facilities. We were ready to go and were able to get Fletcher out by saying we were going outside to look at the big red train.
We then went back to the apartment and Tim headed off on his own to look around Akihabara.