13.12.2006 - 13.12.2006 10 °C
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I dozed in and out as we carried our excited but happy back to our homes in Osaka.