The City Experience of Tokyo (and a few Japan travel tips)
As I mentioned in the Kyoto post of our trip, Tokyo is much more modern and urban. We didn't visit any shrines or temples as you can see from the list of things below.
This museum is one of the top reasons why we wanted to journey to Japan. We became fans of Studio Ghibli's starting with the movie The Cat Returns in 2005. We moved onto watching all of Miyazaki's work after that (he produced that particular film) and other works by the studio. The films opened up so much insight to my husband and myself about storytelling and it was one of the top
things that we wanted to do in our life.
To get to the museum, we took an early exit off t
he subway so we could take a walk through the park. There was just something about being surrounded by nature that is shown in the movies that helped us prepare for the experience.
We weren't able to take a pictures inside of the
museum and it is something you should really experience in person. They have several exhibit rooms featuring their latest short movie that they show in the Saturn Theater. There is a room about the different types of animation throughout the years and examples of them each. There is a room that displays the work of an animator and has original sketches from their movies all over the walls. There is something to see in almost every nook and cranny that just captures the imagination.
If you ever go to Tokyo or Japan, watch their movies and go to the museum. There is no way that they will disappoint you.
After we went to the museum and dropped off
our things at the hotel, we took the subway to the Disney theme parks located by Tokyo Bay. They have night "passports" that you can purchase after 6pm. We decided to go to the DisneySea theme park since it is exclusive only to Japan. It is like Epcot in a way, but instead of different countries, it has different ports of call such as the American Waterfront, the Mediterranean Harbor, or Mermaid Lagoon. When you go to each port, you feel like you are really there since you lose sight of the other parts of the park. One of my favorite parts of the park was seeing Ariel's Castle where you could underneath it to other The Little Mermaid theme rides.
3. Akihibara ("Electric Town")
My husband is very much into electronics and there is no other place in the world like this for people like him. There were stores among stores of different electronics, parts, accessories--- anything someone like Joey would want. We bought some cables for almost nothing and went into a robot store. If we had the money, who knows what we would have ended up coming home with.
This is the Sega theme park located at Obaiba, an artificial island that you reach by taking the Rainbow Bridge across the central Tokyo. They had interactive games such as killing zombies or a scary safari, a Sonic the Hedgehog movie, and having your fortune told by stones (which was freakishly accurate). We also took some yen for tokens and played various games.
5. Downtown Tokyo
After Joypolis, we went outside onto the dock to take in the view of the city. I don't really have a lot of words to describe what I saw and I don't think that any other city will ever compare to the view. When we came home to Chicago and saw the city from the airport, it seemed so tiny in comparison. It was the evening in Tokyo so the lights were added to the sight with the Rainbow Bridge and Tokyo Tower. As I said, nothing quite like it.
So, we ended up getting the city experience in Tokyo. I don't think I have seen so many people in my life just walking through Tokyo Station when it is busy. It was quite a sight for this girl who grew up in a town of fifteen people!
I do have a few tips if you decide to travel in Japan:
1) Bring plenty of cash with you, especially for Kyoto. Japan has microchips in their credit cards and have different ATMS. You can access international ATMS at post offices and 7-11s. However, if you have a Mastercard like we do, you can only use your cards at the post offices.
2) Hotels are extremely helpful. Don't know where a post office is? Our hotels were quite prepared to answer our questions (with maps!) and had boxes to help bring our things home when we couldn't fit what we bought in our luggage.
3) Look into the Japan Railpass for your traveling. We used it for our trips to Kyoto and back to Tokyo. It also works on the JR line subways in Tokyo and is much help. Just flash it to the attendant and you are on your way!
I can't think of much else to pass on right now except the places we went to were pretty amazing. I don't think when we travel that there isn't that much that we couldn't survive since we had to deal with the language barrier, one of the biggest cities in the world, and the lack of vegetarian options at times. More than ever, it was truly an adventure!
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