“Always believe in yourself. Do this and no matter where you are, you will have no fear.” The Cat Returns (2002)
It was around 2007 or 2008, my memory is a bit hazy. One of my friends shared me his discovery of this new animated film from Japan. Its “Howl’s Moving Castle” by one of Japan’s greatest animators, Hayao Miyazaki of Studio Ghibli. My first viewing of the film became a life changer for me. It changed my perspective of animation to a whole new level. And eventually, this became a habit that whenever I’m busy at night and I started to feel alone, I play a movie from Studio Ghibli to keep me company. One night, as I slowly drift into my dream world, I had a vision that in the near future I was creating stories that are vibrant, complexed and magical that inspired people. It became books, animated films and graphic novels. Maybe it was just a half-awake, half-asleep dream. But ever since I became a fan of Studio Ghibli films like ‘Spirited Away’, ‘Princess Mononoke’ and that famous fluffy monster named ‘Totoro’, I continued to daydream and everyday I pray and I hope that one day I would have a chance to live that dream as a storyteller.
And I think there’s no harm in dreaming big, isn’t it?
Yet as I always say, I believe God has plans for each one of us. It maybe not be how you imagined it will happen, but He knows our dreams and He listens to our prayers. A good example of an answered prayer is this; our second trip to Japan and also Mori’s first out-of-country trip. Other than having a new chance to explore this beautiful and culture-rich country, one of our dreams is to visit Ghibli Museum in Kichijoji, the source of my inspiration in storytelling. And guess what, God made it come true and it was just in time for my birthday!
WELCOME TO #TENDAYTOKYOTRIP PART 2!
SECOND DAY [FEB 11, 2017]: “A MAGICAL NEW DAY”
We woke up freezing like a cold sashimi inside a freezer, even if we’re covered with three layers of thick blankets. Our bodies still haven’t adjusted well and there were so much to discover yet in this ‘humble’ home in Meguro. I got up immediately and checked the clock, ’tis 9-o’clock in the morning. I woke Jennica and Mori and prompted them to start preparing so that we could leave right away because that day was extra special to me. It was my 29th birthday but more so, our family was scheduled for a magical trip: a visit to Kichijoji and the famous Ghibli Museum!
I sipped my hot milk tea that morning, trying recollect my thoughts. I still can’t grasp the idea, it was something beyond my imagination(and expectation). I was literally celebrating my birthday in Tokyo! “This is incredible!” I said to myself, talking to God. “Thank you for this gift, Lord.” But that morning became even more special when Mori-chan started to sing her own rendition of the ‘happy birthday’ song while eating her breakfast. She learned it recently before we left Philippines. One of her classmates celebrated her birthday and they greeted her with a birthday song. I almost got teary-eyed, it felt like my daughter was presenting me a precious gift in a form of a cute, raw and intimate performance.
The sun was already high and bright, but we still can’t feel any warmth. We went out and headed straight to Toritsu-daigaku station. From Tokyu-Toyoko line we arrived at Shibuya Central Station and rode the JR Yamanote line going to Kichijoji. Around 12nn, we stepped out of the Kichijoji station, located in the middle of Musahino and Mitaka.
As we were about to search for a place to grab our lunch, I immediately called out for ramen! Jennica obliged happily because she knew I wanted to eat as much ramen as I could for the next ten days. After our hot and slurpy meal we went straight to our first stop, a toy shop named “Niki Tiki.”
Jennica wanted to visit this specialized toy shop that offers a wide variety of wooden toys and stuffed animals designed and manufactured from Europe. I was actually amazed when I went inside, there were wooden puzzles and plush toys that will definitely entertain any kid or kid-at-heart! Mori had lots of fun as she tested(or even tasted) the wooden toys which engages children to interact and explore.
“LOST IN HAYAO’S WORLD”
Ghibli Museum is stationed along 114 avenue right next to Inokashira Park in Mitaka. Its a 20-minute walk from Kichijoji station and I highly suggest you go there by foot. If you ask for directions from Google Maps, it will provide you three different routes you can choose from. I recommend taking the middle route which willl take you inside the Inokashira park.
If you could visit Kichijoji in spring season, be prepared to see full-blown cherry blossom trees lined up in the park ready to greet you like an old friend. Its a great way to start you’re day as you approach the famous museum founded by Hayao Miyazaki.
If you purchase a ticket to Ghibli Museum, take note of the time given for your scheduled tour. (Visit Touring Florence at voyagin.com to purchase your online tickets. You can claim your actual tickets at their office branch in Shibuya.) For the three of us, we were scheduled to enter at 4pm and you can stay inside the museum for as long as you like. Children with age of 0 – 7 years old are free of admission, although parents/guardians need to pay for their own tickets to assist the kids. Each ticket includes a free viewing of an animated short film. Taking photos and videos inside the museum is strongly prohibited except for the exterior premises which are the café, veranda and the rooftop which also features a huge robot statue from the movie “Castle In The Sky.” Walk outside the 2nd floor veranda and take a moment of peace as you gaze upon a breathtaking view of Inokashira park and 114 ave.
Don’t forget to reserve a seat at the Ghibli Museum Café which serves delectable organic meals. My wife was so fascinated with their dinnerwares while Mori and I munched and enjoyed much of our early dinner. A little pricey, but it tasted great nonetheless. Overall, the whole museum tour was otherworldly, a marvelous way to celebrate any special occasion. Especially if you’re planning to spoil a ‘free-spirited father’ on his birthday. Ha ha ha!
DHANU, THE GIFT SHOP & IKINARI, THE ‘STANDING’ STEAKHOUSE
Before we actually arrived at the enchanting Ghibli Museum we noticed this colorful and quirky shop that displayed different Studio Ghibli merchandises. Dhanu Zakka & Gift is a small souvenir shop that sells a wide variety of merchandises inspired from the design of different animated characters from Hayao Miyazaki’s films. Although Totoro and his friends’ registered merchandise are scattered everywhere in Tokyo including Ghibli Museum’s own souvenir shop, this little ‘toy store’ is an iridescent gem that boasts an extensive selection of toys and accessories.
After all that walking, sight seeing and shopping our tummies went grumbling once again. Jennica was craving for some sizzling beef so we went inside the first steak house that we saw, Ikinari Steak. At a glance, I instantly notice that there was something a bit odd or rather, there was lacking from the restaurant. There were NO sight of chairs! Yup, we are not informed (or we lacked the time to research about the place) that this widely known chain in Japan is famous for a unique style of food service.
You eat your dinner while standing up! I know this is not entirely new for us filipinos, because we are trained to eat our ‘fish balls’ and ‘isaw’ standing on the sidewalk but its a bit interesting when it comes to eating dinner steak. I told Jennica to order whatever’s good on the menu and I got myself a glass of red wine.
After less than 5 minutes, our order came to the table and MAN OH MAN! That piece of meat was excellent! But what really impressed us is the food’s quality if you compare the price point(1,500 yen = 660 pesos!). You can actually search them on the net, Ikinari Steak has started creating buzz all over the US after the opening of its first branch in New York.
And that my friends is how I celebrated my 29th birthday in Kichijoji, Japan. Sorry for the long post! I hope I shared enough information on our 2nd day itinerary and I still have a lot of photos to share! If you have any questions, feel free to hit me up on Facebook or you can comment below this article.
Thanks for dropping by guys!
SEE YOU ON OUR NEXT ADVENTURE!
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