The Tokyo Experience: How we spent our pre-class free days!
Look right there. Do you see that?! Do you KNOW what that ticket is for?!?!?! Well, I'll tell you either way. That right there is a ticket to the Ghibli Museum. You know, that reservation only peek into the world of Miyazaki that ranges from difficult to reserve to absolutely impossible depending on the time of year. The place that only allows people to attend in 2 hour blocks due to the sheer volume of reservation requests they receive. Yup. That Ghibli Museum. And that, my friends, is where I started my day.
The Museum is only a 1.4km walk from the hotel through a cute shopping alley and a breathtaking park. Everyone met in the hotel lobby at 11:30am to begin the trip, since our ticket reservation began at 12 and nobody wanted to miss a minute. We walked through the shopping area and entered a large park by crossing a lake. As we waked across the bridge, we could see all of the fish. There was even a large water snake gliding through the water below! We passed the boat rentals (a potential activity for another day), the park zoo (yet again, something to check out), and through the parks forest path. Finally, we came to a road which we followed shortly before seeing what we had been looking for. A large gate reading 'Ghibli Museum'.
Photos inside were strictly forbidden (as in there is literally a staff member in each room who ensures that your phone and camera remain in your bag) but certain outdoor areas were okay to photograph. The inside was absolutely amazing! It was exactly like stepping into the various worlds of Studio Ghibli. Spirited Away, Kiki's Delivery Service, Castle in the Sky, My Neighbor Totoro, Nausica and the Valley of the Wind, Princess Mononoke, Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea; you name it and it was there! Original sketches, explanations of the animation process, recreations of the room where the all the magic started, a short film theatre, and even a life sized CatBus were all included in the experience. Sadly the CatBus is exclusively for small children and the staff members think it's inappropriate to fight the kindergartners on fieldtrip for their place in line. Don't question whether or not I attempted, you may be disappointed in me when I answer. I have never been to a museum that was so much fun, or so crowded! The gift shop looked more like Walmart on Black Friday than a museum on a Monday. Wall to wall people fighting for expensive, but totally awesome, souvenirs. Good thing I had adequate Black Friday training to be prepared for the experience; I had important things to pick up! Outside in the Ghibli Cafe, they were filled to capacity, so since I couldn't get in I just grabbed a Japanese Pair Sherbet in the outdoor stand and watched all the fun around me. There was even a little girl dressed as Kiki, she was so adorable!!!
I wish I could've stayed all day, but eventually my reservation block came to an end and it was time to go back to the real world. Luckily, the real world comes with food.
8 of us walked back towards the hotel to the Kichijoji JR Station and hopped on a train to Shinjuku.
Once in Shinjuku, our first objective was to find some lunch. We walked around near the station for a bit before finding a small restaurant hidden from the main road. Between us we had all sorts of delicious foods from ramen to yakitori, all of which was thoroughly enjoyed.
With happy tummy's, we began to explore the shopping available in Shinjuku. Our first stop was an enormous Forever 21 with 4 levels of clothing! I found something I wanted, but let's just say I was having Gaijin problems. Such a shame too, for cuteness to be so wasted in not joining my clothing collection.After Forever 21, we went over to the 0101. Inside there were many shops throughout 8 floors, as well as a movie theatre on the opposite side of the building. We looked through what was playing, but today was not the day for movies. that will happen one day after class, but not today. The 0101 included a small Uniqlo (Personally, I'm looking forward to the 12 level one in Ginza). I tried on an adorable dress. The sales clerk in the dressing room started speaking English to me when he saw me, but when I responded in Japanese he went back to speaking Japanese. I was sad to have to give him back the dress, especially when I had to awkwardly explain that going up a size would not help my particular sizing problem (haha, Gaijin problems... at least my waist fitxD). I looked through all the stores on the several levels, I almost bought Japanese press-on manicure (you know like the fancy schmancy acrylics with bows and sparkles and 3D thingys glued to your nails, except for $20 instead of $200) but decided against it because, let's face it, I'd chip one in about 3 seconds.
0101 was followed by Takashimaya Time Square. In similar fashion it contained many small stores including Tiffany's,Hermes, and Gucci, Docle & Gabbanna. I'll admit I took a peek in Louis Vuitton to see if they still had my bag available, and of course I picked up some eyeliner in Tokyu Hands, but I was really only in that department store around 20 minutes before I crossed the 5th floor bridge over to the neighboring bookstore for some fun.
Eventually it was time to take the train back to Kichijoji. The station was crowded with people riding home from work, but we all packed into a train and made it safely back to our home station. Once there, our group split up between the grocery store and the hotel. I made a quick run toマクドナルド for a teriyaki burger and a fried apple pie. Don't judge me for my tacky American moment, everyone is entitled to one and mine was delicious. I couldn't resist taking a peek at the bookstore across the street I had spotted during dinner. Somehow that turned into 2 more magazines, bringing my total to 4. Not ashamed, I love me some Japanese magazines.
In front of the main gate to Harajuku
Todays original plan was to spend the morning in Harajuku, the afternoon in Shibuya, and the early evening in karaoke. This plan changed, however, when Harajuku turned out to be far more fruitful than any of us had anticipated. What do I mean by that? Well, these are all of the stores I made purchases from in Harajuku: Paris Kid's, Daiso, Daichu, Margo, K-K Souther, Pet Paradise, Angelic Pretty, Innocent World, Tutu Anna, Amo's Style, Love Toxic, Bodyline, Wonder Rocket, Beam Chara, Momo, and 2 separate crepe shops. Considering I probably made a purchase at 1 in every 20 or 30 shops, you can figure it was an insanely long process even without doing the actual math of solving how many shops that implies my having searched through.
I did purikura several times, twice with different groups of fellow CIEE students, and once with just myself (because let's be honest, those are totally just as fun). I would be posting those here, but you can only have them sent to Japanese phones. And no, my rental phone would not have made sense because getting them off of it would not have been possible.
Some of you who know my particular Harajuku preferences may be noticing a key location missing from my purchase list. You may be thinking, "But Jenn, what about BABY THE STARS SHINE BRIGHT?" Let me tell you what happened there. I walked all the way through Takeshita Dori, down to the Laforet building where BABY is located on level B1.5 (yes, basement 1 and a half is a floor), walked into BTSSB and WAS COMPLETELY AND TOTALLY IGNORED.So I thought about it and concluded the following; "You know, it's totally fine. If they want to be rude, they just lost out on a $300 sale and it's entirely their problem." So I simply walked away and got some adorable day wear at Angelic Pretty just across the way. No hard feelings, but they'll have to wait until my next Tokyo trip for another chance. Perhaps I just became accustomed to the Osaka location.
Everything new in bags
Overall, the day was fabulous. I was able to enjoy a Strawberry Creme crepe for lunch, and a Strawberry Kiwi Creme crepe for an afternoon snack. We never made it to Shibuya, but we had a totally rocking time in Harajuku. I bought more clothes in 1 day than I have in the past year!
After all day in the hot and humid with essentially no air conditioning, we were all pretty exhausted upon returning to the hotel past 5pm. We all collectively decided to relax until 7pm and then meet up for dinner. When 7pm came around, 6 of us headed out to find something delicious looking within walking distance. We found a place that was really similar to where we had lunch in Shinjuku yesterday. I went for the ramen today, always a pleasant choice. It as upon leaving this eating establishment that we found the shiny blue karaoke place. Don't ask me what it was called, but those were the colors on the sign. We headed back to the hotel with the intent to meet in the lobby at 10 for karaoke.
Karaoke went well, it was super fun actually! We had a decently large group, a private room, and similar song tastes! We rented the room out for 2 hours, and they flew by so fast that none of us could believe it when we got our 10 minute warning!
Tomorrow we go to Sophia University for a tour of the campus. After which we will make that trip to Shibuya (which will be far tamer than Harajuku for me. I only really plan to hit Liz Lisa). Once classes begin, there won't be much more in the way of epic shopping. In likely decending order of remaining shopping it's down to Shibuya, souvenirs, and Akihabara. Harajuku was always intended to be the biggie, and I'm happy with my new clothing. Now it's time to get down to business! (10 points if you automatically thought "to defeat the huns")
You can find just about anything in this store, in any style: from sweet innocence to ghetto fab, to sexy hooker. This place caters to everybody and leaves nothing forgotten.
I found an adorable pair of Japanese heels on sale that fit, so of course I had to make them mine. I also purchased a much needed pair of sunglasses, and a cute pair of shorts. My biggest purchase was the blue and white summer set special I purchased at LizLisaDoll/TraLaLa. It was both adorable and on sale to celebrate the season. I love LizLisa clothing, but they're definitely ones you have to find on sale or they can get very expensive very quickly. I was so happy that I was there during their summer sale!
When I reached just below my allotted budget for the day, there was still around 40 minutes left before I was supposed to meet back up with the group at Hachi's statue. That may sound like a long time, but we actually had spent many hours shopping at this point. I didn't want to stay outside in the hot for that long, as you can guess from my earlier statements on the heat, so I hopped over to the Shibuya Starbucks. Their menu has evened out to be highly similar to ours, but I picked the first different item I noticed: a mango passion frappacino gel. You heard that right. Frappacino gel. They blend a sort of pudding type thing into the frappacino to give it a gel like consistency. It may sound strange, but it tasted quite delicious!
At the end of the day after heading home, I surveyed the days purchases by laying them out on the bed. I am definitely pleased with todays finds. The bulk of my shopping is now complete and I'm on to only Akihabara and a few souvenirs/presents. I'm having a great time, my biggest challenge is dealing with that sick feeling I get when I'm overheating. Overall everything is going well though, and I'm super excited to start class in 2 days!
|You can't make this up. It's really in my packet.|
Towards the end of the day, we even ran into an arcade to do purikura. They really make great memories, especially the fun we all have decorating the photos! I wish they had these kinds of photo machines in Arizona. They used to, but then gamestop managed to break theirs and now the closest one is in California :(
I used my time coming back early to make a run to Seiyu and grab a few necessities like flip flops, laundry detergent and a pencil case. My total haul for the day is pictured here. I didn't get much in Akiba today, but I thought you still might be interested in seeing todays take home.
The tour concluded at 6:30pm when we were dropped off back at the university. Most of us went back to the hotel via train. Rush hour is always interesting, it was SO CROWDED!