A Travellerspoint blog

Tokyo

Studio Ghibli

overcast 10 °C
View Tokyo Disneyland Tour on ImpBob36's travel map.

Day 2 in Tokyo. Overcast and nippy.

Tucked away in the western suburbs of Tokyo is the Studio Ghibli museum, a place dedicated to the brilliance of Hayao Miyazaki, created of anime such as Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away. Entrance is by pre-purchasing a ticket at an allotted time before turning up; and being in Japan, we had attained this at Lawsons (a 24 convenience chain, 2 to every corner) via a vending machine. The tickets announce dour attendance time as 2:30-4pm. We had the morning to amuse ourself.

We headed to Shinjuku, a busy and crowded shopping district near the heart of down town Tokyo. After wandering around the skyscraper encrusted zone we found a small Tempura restaurant which K had heard about, our small Tourist book proudly boasting it freshness and quality.

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It was just before 11am, the restaurant was yet to open. A small crowd milled around out side before we were ushered in and seat near the chef. A huge wok sat bubbling; a thin Perspex sheet was our only protection from the clearly hot oil. After 5 minutes, we enjoyed our battered vegetables and rice, sipping quietly on a rust coloured soup with what resembled baby pippies floating in the bottom.

Studio Ghibli was located a short 30 minutes Shinjuku. A walk may have carried us to its doorstep within an hour but we opted for a quick 10 minute bus ride; and relaxed under the overcast sky in a nearby park.

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At 2pm, we approached the gates with the intention of begging our way through. Being a quiet day, however, they ushered us straight in. We were greeted inside with some pamphlets and a small cardboard frame clipping of films from their movies. The bottom level contained a large room showing the progress of animation. Complex spinning models with slits to peer inside, a large spinning platform with a synchronised strobbing light, a maze of film projectors; all designed to show tricks of the eye which grant movement to otherwise static pictures or models.

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A workshop replica lay upstairs, giving a glimpse into Miyazaki's creativeness. Large hand-drawn scripts and storyboards, clung to walls and tables. We spiralled up through the complex and took pictures of the giant metal robot on the roof.

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Close to the hour, we hurried back downstairs to catch a glimpse of a short film from the studio. The 15 minute animation told a beautiful story of a boy buying magic beans and creating and nurturing a new world. At least, I think it did. The entire dialogue and subtitles were in Japanese.

Back to the train station we were off to Akihabara; a large electronic shopping district. K said I looked so happy as the neon lights dazzled around me. We darted from shop to shop, or rather, I darted from shop to shop as she quickly tried to keep up with enthusiasm.

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As the rain continued to fall, our time was quickly drawing to a close. At the train station, I began to feel hot and tired. At first I thought it was over exhaustion but the next week would reveal it as a sinister flu virus. I sat in the airport in a T-shirt, hot and sweaty, while those around me were rugged up in beanies, scarfs and gloves. I contemplated grabbing something hot to eat, but the idea of "Fresh Chips" from a vending machine was a little to much.

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I dozed in and out as we carried our excited but happy back to our homes in Osaka.

Posted by ImpBob36 18:36 Archived in Japan Comments (1)

Tokyo

Disneyland

overcast 10 °C
View Tokyo Disneyland Tour on ImpBob36's travel map.

Sleepy eyed, I stared out into the blackness. It was 5:30am, a time I rarely saw. Rain streamed down the train window as we rocked back and forth through the darkness. K and I were heading to Tokyo.

I quickly gulped down a 3rd coffee at the the airport as a soft pink glow began to spread across the horizon. The airport was quiet. Businessmen dragged around small suitcases on wheels. The sounds of shop doors opening echoed through the corridors. We approached an ATM of sorts, waved our tickets across and a scanner and were issued with boarding passes.

A security checkpoint guarded the inner sanctuary. Watching K. carefully, I followed through. My heart jumped as I heard a soft buzz behind the counter. I checked myself for metal and walked again through the gateway. BUZZ. A uniform walked across and padded me down with a scanner.
"Please be removing shoes."
Third time lucky, I moved on.

The short trip to Tokyo was gone in a blink. An hour ago, I was in Osaka. Now, I was walking through the terminal to the bus stop outside. I tried to visual the distance travelled, remember how the plane view had reminded me of the virtual trip I had taken with Google Earth. Buses filled and disappeared every 5 minutes. We found our platform, boarded and left. 35 minutes later, we stood at the entrance, we were at Disneyland. It was 9:30am.

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Entrance

Through the gates, stood World Bazaar. Hundreds of shops branded with Disney trademarks; pens and paper, candy and cookies, T-shirts and ties. Only a week before X-mas, a large tree loomed in the centre, reflecting flashes as the crowds posed before it. Beyond the stores, Cinderella Castle.

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We wandered across quickly through Adventure Land to Western Land and grabbed a Fast Pass; an ingenious ticket system. Sure, we could wait in the line for Thunder Mountain, a large board suggested it would only take 30minutes. Instead we inserted our Entrance ticket and were issued a pass for 11:30-12:45. We headed to the Nightmare Before X-mas ride ...

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and took a spin in Alice's Teacups.

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After a quick drink, we wandered back to Thunder Mountain and surrender our Fast Past. Laughing at the guesstimated 45min, we headed up the express lane and were flung around in the western roaster coaster ride within 5 mins.

Next up It's a Small World; a seemingly endless boat past animated dolls from across the globe, a cacophony of accents segueing between the name sake song and a Christmas medley. I stared down at the dark water from within the boat and thought of Duff World and Lisa psychedelic decent.
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We grabbed a Fast Pass for Pooh's Honey Hunt and headed to Toon Town and catching up with Mickey Mouse who was "taking breaks between his busy filming schedule."

Off to Tomorrow Land, we took a spin on the Star Jets and took a trip a Star Tour to the moon with the help of some familiar Star Wars characters. After entering Buzz Lightyear Astro Blaster, we shot at hundreds of targets with guns attached to the front our spaceship; a large digital display diligent kept score of our evil-fighting efforts.

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It was time for a quick Mickey Burger before heading off to the "One Man's Dream II" show. Despite the performance and songs being in Japanese, the title song would remain in my head for days to come, the same 3 lines endless looping.

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Back to Adventure Land, we took a boat journey with the Pirates of the Caribbean, followed by a Jungle Cruise and a ride on an old Western Railway.

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We hovered beneath a bridge during a short shower and bit at large legs of turkey. We continued to bounce between the lands and rides, and as night descended across the park, the attractions took on a new life.

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We returned to the main plaza to wait for the Tokyo Disneyland Electrical Parade Dreamlights; a procession of large floats illuminated with hundreds of thousands of lights.

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At it's conclusion, Mickey had his special Christmas Specatular show; more songs, more lights to spread the seasons spirit.

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And finally, after nearly 12 hours, we watched the fireworks above the castle and bought some present for friends and family before returning to our hotel to rest.
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Posted by ImpBob36 12:10 Archived in Japan Comments (1)

Kaiyukan

Osaka Aquarium

overcast 13 °C

Link

The wind had picked up in Osaka. A cold breeze swept across the landscape. A low howl moaned through the hole in the window; the gap left by the air conditioner's exhaust.

K and I wore layers; shirts, jumpers, jackets and coats, hands hidden in gloves, heads swallowed in beanies. We were heading to the bay area where the wind would be wild and vicious as it ran across the water. Today we needed an indoor trip, some protection from the elements.

We huddle through the crowds and hopped from train to train out to Kaiyukan, one of the worlds largest aquariums. We swiftly made our way from the station to the giant red blue building stopping only to watch a juggler perform his skill; flaming torches dancing through the air for our amusement.

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Osaka Aquarium

We pay the 2000yen entry fee and proceed into the building. A corridor presents itself. The walls and roof are glass, fish swim above and beside us as; sharks and rays paces the walls.

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Sharks and fish

The exhibits line the outside walls; an otter enclosure, dolphins diving up and down, penguins crowd around a handler throwing out petite fish ...

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... jelly fish appear to glow ...
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... large spider crabs standing 60cms tall in a barren lunar landscape; eerie and silent ...
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... a large tank contains hundreds of fish swimming around and around and around in a hypnotic silver parade ...
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... and as we spiral into the depths of the building, a single gigantic tank forms the core. Schools of fish spin around. Sharks patrol the edges. Sting rays glide, manta rays fly. A whale shark over 4 meters long gracefully circles the tank like a star, it long body shimmers in the flashes of camera and phones
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Posted by ImpBob36 21:54 Archived in Japan Comments (0)

Minoo

Autumn in the hills

semi-overcast 14 °C


Another day off and another adventure.

The distant hills are transforming from a pale green. Now they are mottled, with orange and red like a giant sleeping alleycat on the horizon.

Minoo is a small hot spring area to the north of Osaka. In the mountains between Kyoto and Kobe, theres a small 2KM hike to a pictureque waterfall; it scenery recently gracing the face of the local train passes.

Its a peaceful Tuesday with nothing to do but enjoy the walk and the leaves.

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Posted by ImpBob36 01:22 Archived in Japan Comments (0)

Koya-san

semi-overcast 17 °C

The train ride was long and mostly silent. K. and I bounced our way through Osaka - Hankyu line, Midosuji subway, Nakai-Koya line. We were heading for Koya-san, a tableland area high in the moutains of Wakayama prefecture; its thick forest, clean air and isolation providing the perfect home for the headquaters of the Shingon School of Esoteric Buddhism.

The two hour train ride transported us back through time. The bustle of Juso station, traffic lights flashing, bicycles screaming, and cigarette butts bursting through the pavement replaced by rice fields and trees, neighbours walking their dogs, dandelions lining the roads.

At the end of the line we switched to a cable car for the last 5 minutes of the journey ...

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Cable car Ext

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Cable car Int

... and then a bus winded along the narrow roads to take us to the Okuno-in-mae stop. A mountainside of tall cypress trees hugged the scenery. We grabbed a small bite to eat and ventured into the forest.

The trees loomed large overhead, blocking the weak autumn sun. Slowly
granite and stone graves began to appear.

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Graveyard View

We ventured further and further. Moss clung to headstones and tori gates.

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Statue Mountain

As the light streamed in between the trees, a swirl of blue-grey incensed danced through the forest. We followed it across a bridge, inscribed wooden plagues resting peacefully in the water offering a silent pray for those who had drowned.

A line of bronzed Buddhas rested on its bank. A splash of water and a bow was offered to each one.

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Bronze Buddha

We left the graveyard and headed to the centre of this 7000 people village. Autumn leaves burst through the green foliage like fireworks exploding around us.

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Autumn Fence

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At Danjoogaran, we entered the great pagoda (Dai-too), cleansed ourselves with rubbing incense and stared at the cosmic Buddha statue. A small group of elderly pilgrims came in and their leader led through a small pray and chant.

As the sun began to fade, a cool wind wandered in from the south. The trees began to sing and sway. We walked to another 4 temples, enjoying the leaves and prayers and history.

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Tree and Stone

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Fire Tree

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Autumn Water

And as the light began to fade, the tree colours dulled and moved to the west. As we caught the train back, the sky turn red, pink and grey as the stars of the Osakan skyline grew brighter and finally enveloped us.

Posted by ImpBob36 20:07 Archived in Japan Comments (1)

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