Today is the one year anniversary of the tsunami that devastated much of the north east coast. Also the beginning of the Fukushima Daiichi disaster. We started off with a trip to the Summit grocery store, Miwa and I waited outside for a while until an old man sat on the bench with us, cracked open a cocktail and lit up a cigarette. This was at 9:10 am, on a bench with a 2 year old. Not cool. So we left.
We had some relatives over today for a pot luck. Miwa was napping when they arrived and did not take well to waking up to find strangers in the house. She eventually warmed up and had a great time with her two cousins, Hisaya (3) and Haruya (6) years old. Well, her and Haruya, had a great time picking on Hisaya……
We were all exhausted by the socializing so we spent the rest of the day laying around and watching incomprehensible Japanese television. Not incomprehensible because of a language issue, just because of the content. For example, one show pitted a team of 11 year olds against a team of 55 year olds in a 4×50 swimming relay. The 11 year olds won, after a 45 minute build-up to the less than 3 minute race. This was interspersed with a story about an American sniper trying to shoot down a remote controlled helicopter and a competition between two prefectures for the best place to view mount Fuji from. During all of this, there were of course advertisements. My personal favorite was the Halls commercial where a guy on stage pops a Halls, then starts singing while doors in his chest open and chickens fly out. There is a similar one, along with a collection of other gems at http://www.uproxx.com/feature/2010/03/16-strange-awesome-japanese-commercials/
Today we went to the Studio Ghibli Museum. Until Disney became affiliated and started releasing this studio’s movies in North America, only geeks would have been aware of it’s existence. Now Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away are widely know. However, Jill and I were some of those geeks that caught on very early (not true, Jill saw these when she was in Japan when she was young). My favorite film is Kaze no Tane no Nausicaa, originally released in North America as Warriors of the Wind, but since Disney got involved, re-released as Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (and it was horribly cut. I thought it was a great movie but I didn’t realize how truly cool a movie it was until Jill showed it to me with subtitles). Jill’s favorite is Sen to Chihiro (Spirited Away), and Miwa prefers Majo No Takyubin (Kiki’s Delivery Service).
The museum was pretty interesting for fans of the films. The tickets were 3 frame clippings from film used in theaters, and there were recreations from the films everywhere. Mitzi enjoyed the attention to detail. Miwa had a blast playing in a big fluffy recreation of the Cat Bus from My Neighbour Totoro. The bus was also my and Jill’s favorite part, but mostly because of how the children were treated. They were only allowed access to the bus for 5 minute periods while the next batch queued up outside of the play area. Then while one group was being ushered out, the next group was being given detailed instructions on how to behave properly while in the area. What amused me about the whole procedure was that the room was never over capacity, and could have accommodated all the kids for as long as they wanted. The kids who wanted to stay just circled around. When asked what if there was anything he liked about the museum, Tak replied, “Oh yeah.”
We weren’t allowed to take any pictures in the museum, which is too bad because there was so much stuff to see but we had a nice walk through Inokashira Park on the way to Kichijoji Station. It was a nice day and people were out in force.
We went to Shinjuku to get our rail passes for the trip to Kyoto then parted ways from Tak and Mitzi and headed to Harajuku. If there is anywhere in Tokyo that a foreigner must go it is Harajuku. It’s where all the fashion crazy young people go and sometimes you wonder what they were thinking. Well, actually that happens every 5 minutes or so. Just google Harajuku to get an idea what I’m talking about. We were there on a Monday afternoon, and didn’t see anything too far out there.
We stopped at a small restaurant on our way home, the meal was good and they gave Miwa a free toy, but shortly after we got our meal, some more customers walked in and started smoking. I had forgotten how disgusting it can be to have someone smoking while you are trying to enjoy a meal. I’m glad it is banned back home.