Hello everyone! It’s time for me to tell you guys about the second day of my trip! I hope that you’re as excited to hear about it, as I am to tell you all about it. This was a very happy time for me, because not only was I back in Tokyo, one of my favourite places on earth, but I also have amazing parents who wanted to experience this place with me! I feel unbelievably blessed, and love you all for letting me re-experience this trip of a lifetime through my weekly posts about it all! In case you’re curious about Day 1, or simply haven’t read it yet, you can see it here. For those of you ready for Day 2, please read on!
Due to our excitement (and also probably in large part due to jet lag) we were up at 5 a.m. the next morning and ready to go explore. I remember waking up and still not believing where I was! I’d dreamed of returning to Japan nearly every day since I left its shores the first time in 2014, and I could not believe that my dream had become a reality. Even once the trip was official and the tickets bought, it felt unreal, and there were months of hard work and looking forward to this trip…and then suddenly we were there, we were in Japan.
Feeling in a celebratory mood, I therefore decided to put on one of my cutest dresses, and put on a full face of makeup (minus the wings of gel eyeliner I draw on for special occasions). I knew that for most of the days that I would be there for my parents, we would be doing a lot of walking (and even hiking), and I would not bother with straightening my hair or doing my makeup. I would also have to dress in comfy clothes, rather than aiming for style. So when I saw an opportunity, I took it and dolled up!
Then we were off. We’d decided to visit Shinjuku (a famour ward in Tokyo, and then make our way to Shibuya (another famous ward) before we would have to head toward the area where the Ghibli Museum was located. We’d bought tickets for the museum months before (since they sell out very quickly), and the Ghibli Museum was therefore the only “for sure” thing in our schedule that day. We took our time walking to the subway station closest to us, becoming familiar with our neighbourhood (Azabujuban in Minato-ku). This area was quite different from where I’d stayed on my first visit to Japan (Ikegami), in the sense that it was more modern, there were more cars, and there were also more people around. On our way to the station, we decided to pick up some convenience store food (which is actually amazing in Japan!) and find a place to eat once we reached Shibuya.
Once in the subway station, we had to purchase PASMO cards for 500 yen (approximately 5 USD) and charge them with money. Rather than purchasing tickets with the exact fare amount every time we wanted to go somewhere, it’s much easier to purchase a PASMO or SUICA card, which you load with money and then just scan when you enter and leave varying subway stations. The machines you use to scan the card will automatically calculate the fare for you and deduct that amount, then all you have to do when you run out of money is recharge the card! It’s a very smart idea, and definitely made navigating the complex subway and train systems of Tokyo much easier and enjoyable.
We took the appropriate trains to Shinjuku, and at the station there found a JR office where we could exchange our JR Rail Pass vouchers for the actual passes. (I mentioned the JR Rail Pass in Part 3 of my travel prep series if you plan to travel to Japan anytime soon and want to know more about those!) We then exited the station and had a look around before heading to the nearest park to eat our breakfast (and for those of you who don’t know, we did this because it is considered rude to eat in public in Japan! Parks are okay, and it’s even alright to drink in parks in Japan, but sidewalks and trains are a big no no).
Once we finished eating, we headed out to look for Goden Gai, a very famous cluster of streets filled with tiny bars. When we did find the main, and most famous, street we realized that we should really have visited at night, because all of the bars were closed in the daytime. We walked along the street, took some very boring pictures (which I didn’t even bother uploading on here, haha), got some strange looks, and then made our way back to the station and to Shibuya!
While Shinjuku is an alright area, the station can be very confusing for switching trains, and I find the ward to be quite busy and not really containing many things of interest for me (other than restaurants of course!) Shibuya is much more to my taste, and I was very excited to visit it again. I really enjoy observing and watching Shibuya crossing, looking at the statue of Hachiko (even though it makes me cry every time), and walking the streets filled with interesting shops and restaurants. We spent a few hours exploring before we felt hungry again from all of the walking, and entered the first sushi restaurant which looked to our taste.
We were seated and looked over the menus (which were considerably easy to use even without the help of my dad, whom I’ve mentioned speaks and reads intermediate Japanese). While waiting for our waiter to return and take our order, a group of men finished eating at a table near us, and one of them gave me a bouquet of flowers on the way out. It was very random, but I will admit that I felt quite flattered! My day just got better once we were eating our meal, since everything was delicious, and we left with full stomachs, ready to make the long trip to the Ghibli Museum!
I will say that the longish train ride to the area where the museum is located was good for resting our feet and digesting the delicious lunch we’d enjoyed. We arrived at Mitaka station, and because we were still pretty early when we arrived, decided to walk along the road and take in all of the shops and some of the park in which the museum is located. We arrived at the museum at the perfect time, and found everything to be quite a treat even from the outside! The architecture and the plants were styled to remind one of Ghibli films, and since we have been fans of those films for over a decade, we were quite excited to be there!
Once we made it inside, we were told that photos were not allowed of the interior (and I am sorry to be unable to share that with all of you) but to be honest, aside from the staircases and some of the displays, the inside of the museum was not as exciting as the exterior. The statue of the robot from Laputa: Castle in the Sky on the roof was quite the treat, as were the colours and design of the entire place, however, and we did have fun overall. Included with the ticket was also a showing of a short film, which for us was a short companion film to My Neighbour Totoro! It was quite a treat, and after viewing it, we left the museum with smiles on our faces and ready to go home.
Once we were back in Minato, we went to the grocery store close to our apartment, bought dinner and then met with my friend on the way to where we were staying. Her husband joined us as well, and we had dinner together while telling stories until it was time for bed once again.
THANK YOU FOR READING THIS POST ABOUT MY JAPAN AND KOREA 2017 ADVENTURES! ALSO, PLEASE FEEL FREE TO SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS AND/OR SOME OF YOUR OWN EXPERIENCES IN THE COMMENTS BELOW!