Ghibli Museum

This story begins on eBay.

Since October last year, I've begun selling a lot of my collectibles because I really haven't gotten anything out them.  I bought a whole lot of figures from McFarlane toys, and they've done nothing but sit in my parent's attic for nearly 10 years.  So, I put them on ebay.  Some of them sold quite fast, but others lingered for quite a long time.

Fast forward to March this year.  I've already purchased airfare for the first couple days in May to visit Tokyo, Japan.  I get an email from an ebay user wondering if I'd ship something of mine to Tokyo.  The light bulb immediately flashes in my head, and I start writing the reply,

"Yeah, I could ship to Tokyo but it'll be about $30 or $40 extra.  As it so happens, I'll be in Tokyo at the beginning of May.  If you wouldn't mind waiting 2 months, I could deliver the figure in person free of charge. ^_^  What do you say?"

Initially, the user was taken back by this.  "What?  I don't even know you," his first reply began with.  But once I proved the depths of my Anime nerdom, he agreed to meet.  He introduced himself as Akira. ^_^  I asked him for suggestions of places I should visit while in Japan and he mentioned to Ghibli Museum.  There's a Ghibli Museum?!  Damn straight I'm going there.

Planning a trip to the Ghibli Museum

Thankfully, Akira mentioned that buying tickets for the Ghibli Museum is not straightforward.  You can't buy the tickets at the Museum.  In Japan, you must buy tickets at a Lawsons convenience store.  The ticket is for a specific day with entrance at a specific time of that day.  For non-Japanese residents, you must buy your tickets through JTB Travel Agency.

We choose a day, May 3rd, and bought our tickets without a problem.  Our tickets were for 2pm, so we planned to meet up ahead of time.  We could go to Shinjuku or wherever and hang out.  Eventually, we'll make our way down to Mitaka Station and take the bus to the Ghibli Museum.

Hanging Out before hand

Thank god for my Japanese Cell Phone.  There's no way we would've found each other had he not been able to call me and talk.  We met in near the East entrance of Shinjuku Station.  And we just walked around to various stores and arcades in the area,  chatted about Anime and Games.  What I liked, What he liked.  General bullshit like that.

We hopped on a train and went over to Nakano to visit the very first Mandarake store.  The Nakano Mandarake was absolutely massive.  It was 3 floors with each floor was about the size of a mall.  This Mandarake was segmented into many different stores that specialized in each tiny niche of otaku fandom.

There was a store for costumes, one for retro games, one for newer game, one for new games, artbooks, design books, animation cells, figures, statues, gashapon, old music, game music, foreign music, anime, movies, foreign movies...  the list goes on and on.  This is where I found Ikaruga Used for $36.  I also found a few copies of Metal Wolf Chaos on Xbox, but they were more than $70 each.

Nakano Mandarake is also where I found more Super Mario Bros. sound drops.

As time crept closer to 2pm, we left Mandarake, hopped on a train and headed for Mitaka.  We got to the Museum right on time and met up with Akira's wife, Natsuki, outside. ^_^

Ghibli Museum

The Ghibli Museum was very rustic and homely. ^_^  Nested snug in a heavily wooded park, the organic domes and vine covered walls made a perfect home.

Unfortunately, taking pictures inside the Museum was not allowed.  But, the museum was very nice.  Each part of the museum was a separate room that you'd enter from the center of the building.  The first room had animated statues of Ghilbi characters that displayed how the animation process works.

Also on the first floor, was a theater that played an original production only available to see at the Museum.  They have 6 or 7 different original 15-minute films that rotate month after month.  For May, they were playing "Mei to Koneko Bus" (english: "Mei and the Koneko Bus").  Which featured Mei from Totoro who captured a Kitty Bus, and then go off in the woods with it and meets a bunch of Totoros.  It was really cute. ^_^

After the film, we went on the roof to see the Laputa Garden.  When reaching the roof, you're immediately greeted by a Laputa Giant.  Akira and I stood next to it for a picture.

The path continued along the back to reveal a Laputa stone.

There were other spiffy areas in the museum, too.  Like a life-sized Cat Bus for the kids to hop around on.  There was also an area that served as a replica to Miyazaki's workbench from when he began Ghibli films.  All along the walls were original sketches and storyboards for his works throughout the years.

There was the gift shop too!  I bought a design book that has many storyboards from Ghibli films throughout the years.  I bought some stickers for my suitcase.  And, I bought some other things to give as gifts for people. ^_^


After leaving the Ghibli Museum, we walked through the park towards the Kichijoji train station.  Mitaka is a beatiful area.  Perfect for letting children run around outside in a nice wooded area, rather than the cool concrete of the Tokyo streets.  Before we parted ways, we went to Dinner at a Sushi restaurant underneath Kichijoji station.

This was one of those Sushi restaurant that had a conveyer belt running through the restaurant.  When something came by your table that looked delicious you'd take it from the line and it's yours!  The color and design of the plate designated the price you'd pay for eating it.  Prices ranged from 75 cents a plate to $6.  My favorite sushi were in the $1.50, $2 range, so I was fine. ^_^

They had the best California Rolls I've ever eaten.  The avacado was crisp and cool, next to the tender soft crab meat wrapped around delicious rice topped with some mayonaise and tuna eggs.  (at least, I think those are tuna eggs.)

Delicious!  But I still prefer 100 yen Sushi in Nagasaki. ^_^

Bon Voyage..

Meeting Akira and Natsuki was amazing and definitely the highlight of my trip.  The Language difference wasn't too great.  They were much better at English than I was at Japanese.  But we were able to go back and forth between the 2 to figure out what we were trying to say.  Hopefully, my Japanese will be better next time I'm in Tokyo so we can have better conversations!

If you buy or sell stuff on ebay, I think it's definitely worth your while to meet up with people if you have the chance.  Whatever you're buying or selling is a great place to start a conversation.

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