Good ol Studio Ghibli

How do you pronounce “Ghibli” ? I’ve always called it “Gib-Li”. However, I learnt locals pronounce it as “Gee-Bree”. And that makes sense after reading the Japanese katakana form used to spell it.

Getting to the Ghibli museum wasn’t difficult. You can get there via a train and then wait for the specific bus to take you to the location. Note though the bus isn’t free.

We were part of the early few there before they open at 10AM. The one thing you should know if you’re a photographer / Instagram-mer is NO PHOTOGRAPHY is permitted indoors at all times.

The outdoors, however, is free to be photographed. And this big guy above stands on the rooftop. If you do manage to get to the museum before opening hours, you may want to head to the roof first once you enter and snap your shots before the queue forms for the big guy.

Inside the museum, if you’re an animation fan, artist, animator, designer or someone who appreciates fine work, you’ll love the exhibited items. And like Disneyland, there’s a store inside for you to bring back memorabilia of the Ghibli museum.

Once we were done, we decided to depart and climb the Tokyo Tower to try our luck to see Mount Fuji in the distance.

On the main observatory deck, it was a cloudy day and I didn’t notice a sign pointing whereabout Fuji could be located, unlike others telling you where was Shibuya and etc. But since it was cloudy anyway, we wouldn’t be able to view Fuji. So we left.

Tomorrow we’re saying goodbye to Tokyo, but not Japan just yet. Thank goodness!

The happiest place on Earth (Japan version)

We woke up very early at 6.30am hoping to chow down breakfast, get to the station, take a train and reach Tokyo Disneyland just in time for the gates to open. Though we made good time, it was a large crowd already storming into the happiest place on Earth and this crowd were mainly locals.

The day wasn’t moving too much in our favor because it was showers throughout the whole day. Despite it being light, moving around with a raincoat wasn’t my kind of happy. However, in comparison to Universal Studios Japan, this crowd was better.

Ooh ooh. If it does shower when you’re here, be sure to gobble down a nice warm turkey leg. It is the best thing to have during a chilly weather. Well, at least I think so.

While following the paths, there was a familiar smell in the air – curry. We tracked the scent to a kiosk and bought some to tickle our taste buds. It kind of reminded me of a light Twisties taste.

The rides we managed to get on were Pirates of The Caribbean (PoTC) and their new jungle expedition. I must say, PoTC did very well with the movement of the puppets and environmental lighting to make them look very real. Plus, the mouth movements was not your typical jaw dropping and raising. Really well done.

But since the rain wasn’t letting up, we left Disneyland earlier than we hoped and went to another happy place – for anime and mange enthusiasts.

Welcome to Diver City Plaza, Odaiba. Hello Gundam.

If you paused long enough, its head will start moving, dramatic smoke will appear from its body, its arms will stretch, and its legs will move forward. Okay, maybe its arms and legs aren’t moving yet, but they probably will someday. Then Japan will be able to split their parks and raise their robot armies deep from underground. Lol.

To wrap up the the day, we returned to Akihabara and entered the building; Radio Kaikan. It was a multi-level complex with many stores for various interests from Danboard, Nendoroid, Figma, Gundam, Volks dolls and others.

Let’s just say, I’ve a small Danboard obsession and something really good to build and share with you later. 😛

Tokyo oh Tokyo

This morning we departed from Gifu via the Shinkansen (bullet train) to Tokyo. When we bought the tickets with our aunt’s help, it didn’t seem that confusing, but it was a different story than we did on our own later.

It was my first experience riding the train and when it arrived, it was quite interesting to see its true shape. The tickets we bought had allocated seats like an airline and during the trip, there was even a stewardess (not sure if that’s what you call the role) pushing a cart with food for passengers to purchase.

The train was really fast although when you look out the window, it may not be as obvious. At some point we were wondering whether we could view Mt. Fuji but we weren’t sure whether it was the actual thing.

Moments later when we reached Tokyo, we decided to buy our tickets back to Gifu in advance. This was when we weren’t sure what the officer selling the tickets was explaining to us, although we did still manage to buy the tickets.

Once that was done and we got out of the station to walkover to our hotel, we had to pause a few minutes because Tokyo’s “sky tree” tower was in clear view.

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Hello Tokyo. #nofilter #visitjapan

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After checking in and taking a short break, we left to see the giant lantern at Shinsoji. Then made our way to the land of otaku; Akihabara.

It so happened when we walked out from the station, we were already walking into Yodabashi Camera. We spent at least 2 hours in there combing through the figures and continued walking around Akihabara to see what else it had to offer us.

Needless to say, we didn’t return empty handed and will probably make another trip there before we leave.

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Hello Tokyo. #nofilter #visitjapan

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I hope I’ll be able to fit all of the goodies from this trip into my bag when I leave later. In the meantime, I’ll not worry about it and look forward to the happiest place on Earth soon.

The quiet land of Wakayama

Filled with the cool breezes as if being in Genting Highlands, I’m really enjoying the peaceful atmosphere with the seaside not too far away. It’s just like living in your anime where you wake up, have breakfast, leave the house and start making your way to school.

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おはようございます。#wakayama #visitjapan

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We took a short trip passing the sea and headed towards a temple where it’s surrounded with dolls. Then there was 1 shrine with 2 shapes resembling a vagina and penis. This is where single people or couples come to pray for either kids or a lifelong partner.

After that, we headed to the train station where there’s an infamous feline who’s known as its station master.

Meet Ni-Tama, a four legged feline who’s employed with a salary. What exactly is his responsibility, I’m not sure. But he’s one big cute fellow you’d want to really hug! Lol.

Once we were done, our next destination was another place near the ocean. It was a great beach which looked like it would be packed with people during summer. That’s another season which I’m thinking of experiencing, though second thoughts jump into mind right away about the heat later. Our aunt said it can reach up to 40 degrees Celsius. O.O

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Park playground (Level 100) #wakayama #visitjapan

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Nearby the beach was a park with a kids playground. When I saw this, I truly thought to myself about how different playthings were available to kids here. They even had a mini flying fox for those under 12 years of age!

As we made our way to taste a popular ramen in Wakayama, we took a short detour elsewhere because the ramen shop only opens from 5.00pm to 1.00am. Unknowingly, our aunt took us to walk through an apparent haunted tunnel. One which I’ve not looked up and probably wouldn’t later. Better not knowing about it, right. Lol.

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Park playground (Level 100) #wakayama #visitjapan

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Once I took a few sips of the soup, it had a familiar after taste which I couldn’t put my finger on until my bro-in-law mentioned it was like bak-kut -teh. And the light bulb came on! It was like bak-kut-teh.

Compared to the other ramen, this was much lighter in taste except when it hits you after you’ve swallowed the food. Between them, I think I prefer the latter.

Well, it’s been a tiring day, not having gotten used to the futon style pillow yet. But the experience so far has been great and I pray the incoming typhoon won’t wreck the remainder of our trip. Begone Vongfong!

Host clubs and UFO catchers

We started the morning with homemade sushi and glorious clam soup made by baba (grandmother). The freshly made soup was warm with fresh clams. Truly a lovely start to our day. ありがとうね ばば。

Before we made our way to Shinsaibashi and Doutonbori, we detoured to Nipponbashi once again to hunt for Kotobukiya. This time with the help of our aunt and her car, we finally were able to locate Kotobukiya!

And guess what, we saw Danboard merchandise the moment we entered! Woot. If you didn’t know, I’ve kinda got a tiny obsession with Danboard. Lol. However though, none of us except Ariel walked away empty handed on this visit.

We then headed over to Shinsaibashi and Doutonbori. The area is famous for its night clubs, as well as hosts club. I will visit one of these places, one day, one day I tell you. 😛

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Six club #shinsaibashi #visitjapan

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Then not far away, you can walk over and snap photos with the giant king crabs or infamous “Glico man”. But first, time to eat the best ramen in Osaka.

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Itadakimasu #kamukura #dotonburi #visitjapan

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The soup was light, noodles were not under nor over cooked and pork was yums. Though the best memory I had of this place, call me weird, was the ordering process before sitting. Because what we did was order using a touchscreen near the entrance, pay, and then take a seat. That’s brilliant! Especially with the problem in Malaysia eateries where many patrons “chup” their seats before bringing their food to the table. Someone please do this in Malaysia!

Back here in Japan, we walked into a building with UFO catchers, photo machines and machines which I’m not sure what to call them. You sit at these machines, put coins and get the existing coins in the machine to be pushed down. Help me out here, okay. Lol.

My bro-in-law spent quite a bit catching a figurine because it was almost going to fall, but it still challenged the catcher’s weak arm. Thankfully, it did drop in the end and I suppose it’s the desire to not let your early efforts go to waste that makes you spend a lot on a machine once you start.

Well, next time I’ll be writing will be about a great place by the sea. Till next time. 🙂