Today's blog music is the theme from Howl's Moving Castle played by Sungha Jung, and amazing Korean guitarist who is only in highschool and arranges and plays tons of songs: Theme from Howl's Moving Castle.
The next morning the plan was shopping in Asakusa, a great tourist-y place with little shops and a temple area. We found some great dresses at a second hand store for 390 yen or less, and later bought some great ice cream and little trinkets.
It was also in Asakusa that we had the Realistic Mushroom Key Chains Adventure, or Hope And Abby Almost Die Of Laughing. We went into a department store for some aircon and to check out a music store, and then found a hallway full of those little vending machines where you can buy toys and dumb little things in plastic bubbles. Japan is a treasure trove for vending machines, whether for weird and crazy toys or for buying food. Anyway, we were perusing the merch, when we saw some realistic mushroom keychains that just seemed like the thing to buy at that moment. So Hope worked on getting out her massive amounts of change, only to proceed to spill about half of it all over the floor. We were cracking up then, thinking that someone was going to turn the corner soon and see the two foreigners on their hands and knees picking up coins like weirdos, but we got it all picked up before anyone came. Then as we were walking back down the hall after making our super awesome purchases, Hope was still trying to get her coins under control. I had just told her to make sure to zip the coin pocket when she lost control of the wallet and spilled every last one of those coins. Yen from an entire month went cascading to the ground. It had to be like 35 or 40 coins EVERYWHERE. Keep in mind we were at the other end of the hallway now...This spillage was followed by Hope hollering “MOTHER OF PEARL!” and doing an angry karate kick in the air....all in full view of the music store clerk, who not only must have heard the coins falling both times, but now saw the second time and Hope’s reaction. He was completely cracking up, and we ran back behind the wall and about peed our pants laughing. I had tears streaming down my face. I will always think of that memory whenever I see that keychain now. Absolutely hilarious.
Anyway, we went home very sweaty and had to freshen up before meeting Philipa and biking over to Seizaria’s (spelling...?) for dinner. It was one of Hope’s favorite places to eat while she was in Japan, so we decided to have a dinner there and then go to watch the movie Emperor, (which I totally recommend, by the way).
Biking was so much fun! I think it was the first time I had biked extensively (more than a couple minutes) in like 2 years, so I was a little wobbly, and a little nervous going between narrow spots, but I think I did ok! Biking was actually one of my most favorite memories from the trip. Biking with that pink bike with two baskets along Japanese roads made me feel like I was in the middle of a Miyazaki film. I loved it.
Speaking of Miyazaki, the next day Hope revealed the secret location of the surprise sightseeing thing she had planned: The Ghibli museum in Mitaka! I was SO PUMPED. I had wanted to go, but it’s really hard to get tickets because they only admit 200 people at a time in 2 hour slots because the place is really small, so I kind of gave up hope on that. I assumed we were going to the Tokyo zoo or something. But then, we woke up and Hope pulled out the tickets! She had got them as soon as tickets for August went on sale, so since basically a week or two after she got to Japan she had planned this.
It was so wonderful! We arrived and were walking to the museum and from the distance we could see a giant replica robot from Castle in the Sky rising from the roof...you can imagine the excitement building! The museum itself was just an awesome looking building, like something out of a Ghibli film. Lots of stairs and stain glass windows with Ghibli characters on them. There was a room for kids with a giant cat bus from Totoro that they could play around inside and stuffed dust sprites to throw around and collect. I really wished I was small enough to play in there. We saw the hand drawn story boards from all the movies in a replica of Miyazaki’s office, and I never felt like learning to illustrate more. I think I’ll try to practice more this winter with Anna’s watercolors. We had a great time there and finished the day off with some Japanese tea and BBQ corn ice cream at the museum cafe.
We next went to Harajuku and chilled at a rooftop Starbucks while waiting for Philipa to go shopping together. We found some super deals, including some adorable Totoro chopsticks, which I am saving for myself as a housewarming present for when we move house in November.
I bought more housewarming presents the next day, a Totoro mug and bento for picnics...Totoro themed stuff was the majority of my Japan purchases...Maybe not the most mature thing, but I hope I’m never too old to like Miyazaki films.
I’ll wrap up Saturday and Sunday and my return hopefully in the next day or so...are you on the edge of your seat?
Thanks for reading!