Thursday July 15th
Studio Ghibli Museum & Ayako
Today we set off early to meet Ayako, Sumiko (Ayako’s mother) and Hiroki (Ayako’s brother). Ayako, you may or may not remember, is my pen pal that I met in London once during the first year of Japanese, as Sumiko is a friend of Kushida-sensei’s and they were sightseeing at the time. The group was split into two, one Ghibli and the other headed for the Bandai Museum. Myself, Heather and Dave went to Ghibli.
Ayako had had her hair cut since the first time I had seen her, and I almost didn’t recognise her at first. I tried speaking to her in mixed Japanese and English on the train, but it was difficult to get a line of conversation going. I have to practise this skill, the art of good conversation :\. We arrived in Mitaka and walked to the Ghibli bus stop. A big yellow bus pulled up to the shelter, embellished with makkuro kurosuke (or susuwatari, whatever you like to call the little blighters :P) – those are the small, cute black soot creatures.
The museum itself was just as I had hoped – breathtaking. I wish I had had more time to look at everything in more detail, and it was a shame you couldn’t take pictures inside, or even buy a photo book at the exit.
All the more reason to make people go and see it for themselves I guess. There were stained glass windows of various anime and fantastic artwork spread across 3 rooms, drawn by Hayao Miyazaki. Downstairs there was a room devoted to animation display and had immensely detailed displays and lighting effects. Upstairs there was also the infamous (well, at least to Lianne :P) giant plush neko catbus filled with not only children, but loads of kurosuke! Ahh,, but alas, it was for young children only :P heheh.There was a temporary Pixar exhibition on at the time, so naturally Heather and I were in something of a childlike stupor followed by craziness at the sight of ‘For The Birds’ Pixar plushes ^_^.
We watched a few of Pixar’s cinema shorts and browsed the Finding Nemo artwork before looking in the giftshop. Yes! They were there; For The Birds plushes, complete with authetic chirping sound when you shake them! XD. The museum really is like a giant children’s toybox; it’s so colourful and full of fantasy, right through from the design of the building down to the smallest details, such as the addition of child-sized holes in the walls to walk through and entrance tickets made from part of an actual filmstrip from a Studio Ghibli anime production!
After buying way too many plushes and other things from the giftshop, we returned to join up with the rest of the group to go shopping for the rest of the day. I asked Hiroki to take a small group of us to Animate, a chain store that sells anime, manga and just about anything related. Unfortunately we didn’t get to go to the 4 story one in Ikebukuro (I think that’s where it is), but it was great nonetheless. I managed to pick up an Escaflowne soundtrack that Heather was looking for and Simon was filled with amazement at all the Cowboy Bebop Soundtracks there, followed quickly by disappointment at the total price of them all ^^; hehe.
I spoke to Ayako some more at dinner and back at the Youth Hostel afterwards, mainly about their family’s plans for a trip to Germany and cicadas – which made quite a lot of noise at certain points along the trip, especially around temples. (Cicadas – imagine crickets but much louder and more of a buzzing sound). Ayako also recommended places to visit if I return to Japan again. It was good being able to talk in person, and a shame I probably won’t be in England when she comes this September. I’ll have to be better at writing letters in future :\.
The only bad point of the day was Kushida-sensei’s anger at Lianne. I hope they can patch things up before we fly home tomorrow.