#TBT: Japan, April 2006: Travel From TDLR to Tokyo, Ghibli Museum, Laundry

We woke up 7:30am and finished our packing. We called Bell Services to bring our luggage down and arranged for them to hold some of our stuff (mainly souvenirs and dirty laundry we won’t need on the trip anymore) until our return on Monday.

Since the breakfast buffet at the Miracosta was about $30 per person, we decided to take the TDL monorail to Ikspiari, the shopping area, and find a coffee shop. So we had coffee and danishes at a place called The Mono. Decent cinnamon buns, chocolate buns wasn’t chocolately enough (NOTHING in Japan is chocolatey enough) and the hot “American coffee” sucked (our next hotel is near a Starbucks, thank goodness!).

Bon Voyage Shop

Before leaving the TDL area, we stopped off at the Bon Voyage shop at Maihama Station. It has a large sampling of everything they sell at the parks, plus some stuff we never even saw at the parks. I wound up buying 3 more shirts and seeing a few more small things we’ll get when we come back on Monday, so we wouldn’t have to lug them all around Tokyo.

From Bon Voyage, it was just a few hundred feet to the Maihama train station. We took trains from there to Shinkiba, then to Osaki, then to Ebisu Station. From there, it was a quick walk to our hotel, the Westin Tokyo.

Once we checked in, we made reservations for a tour on Sun (our first choice was Sat but it was filled) and got directions to a local coin laundry for reference for this evening.

We left our stuff with them, since our room wasn’t ready and we went to the Ghibli Museum.

The Ghibli Museum was one of the places Joe wanted to visit in Japan. It was a animation museum, with emphasis on Hayao Miyazaki, who is something of the the modern-day Walt Disney of Japan…he writes and directs his own movies, like “Spirited Away,” “Princess Mononoke,” “Kiki’s Delivery Service” and lot of others that I’m blissfully unaware of (MODERN-DAY NOTE: my tastes have changed and I really enjoy most of Miyazaki’s works now). The museum is very immersive, with the architecture and design lending themselves to be parts of the exhibits. They encourage you to wander, explore and discover. Although we couldn’t understand all of the exhibits, there were many parts of it which transversed language. The museum also currently has a Pixar exhibit (the Pixar animators apparently see Miyazaki as a god), which was very interesting.

Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to take pictures inside. We got some lame shots of the outside (see below), but I suggest you look at the Ghibli Museum’s website for anything further.

After the museum, we went back to the hotel. Our room was now ready and again, it was a awesome place. HUGE room, a REAL American-style shower, “Heavenly Beds,” Tempurpedic pillows upon request, you name it. And best of all, high-speed internet access! Not even Disney offered that!

The view from our room at the Westin. We never did figure out what that very Western-looking building was

As I’m typing this on my PDA, we’re at the local coin laundromat, doing our last laundry of the trip. I feel bad for the locals…at one point the 3 of us were using all 5 of the available washing machines and right now we’ve got all of the dryers (only 3, but they’re big ones) in use.

It’s later now…after bringing our stuff back to the room, we went back out to find dinner. As bustling as Tokyo is, a lot of places still close at 9 or 10pm, just like in Kyoto, Nagoya and Hakone. Finally found a restaurant called Beer Station, a German place near our hotel. Food was OK…not great…but better than McDonald’s, which was the only other place we saw that was open.

Made it back to the hotel, dumped the pictures from our digital cameras, caught up on some internet stuff and went to bed.

Tomorrow (Saturday) we’re meeting a bowling friend of Joe’s who lives outside of Tokyo. I have no idea what we’re doing tomorrow.

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