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August 17th, 2014

Japan 2014, part 1 @ 01:34 pm

The flight from SFO to NRT was long and boring. The seat next to me was open, so I could have theoretically lied down... except that this was a 747 with the armrests that stick way the hell out so you can't lie down easily. Boo. Got to Narita without issue, found my sister at the baggage claim (who had only been there for five-ten minutes), and we made it through customs without delay. We took the Narita Express to Ikebukuro; the express part was only for the Narita - Ueno-ish leg, as it was slow going on tracks parallel to the Yamanote line for the rest of it. Maybe 90 minutes total from the airport to Ikebukuro station? We couldn't find the exit we were supposed to take the first time out; however, since my parents had previously stayed at the hotel we were going to, I kinda-sorta knew where it was. I also found that T-Mobile's claims of having free data in Japan were mostly true, so GPS kinda-sorta worked. (More on that later.)

We had to get up early the next morning to meet me ex-gf Yumiko, who had kindly gotten us tickets for the Ghibli Museum, so we talked about going out, but ended up falling asleep around 8pm local time. I think we woke up at 6, which was just as well. We met my ex right on time, and chatted briefly before she had to head to work. My sister and I had discussed going to Tsukiji since it was still early, but instead we decided to just go back to the hotel and laze around for a while, as our tickets didn't allow entry until 2pm. Katy got her first real exposure to Japanese convenience store food and TV, and lazing was had. Around noon, we went to Kichijoji, and started to amble our way through Inokashira Park towards the museum. It's a much nicer route to go through the park than to go to Mitaka station, like the official guides recommend; that walk is really pretty dull, with not much to be said for it other than the charming "Ghibli Museum, 1200m" signs.

I've been to the Ghibli Museum at least three or four times now, and each time has been a pleasure. It's not that large, but the grounds are immaculate, there's stained glass depicting Ghibli movie scenes everywhere, and the entire experience is just charming. The only kink is that tickets are limited; JTB will sell you tickets in advance, but they'll often run out and be super slow to inform you of this fact (or to bother updating their website.) If you're lucky, already in Japan, and have a flexible schedule, you can go to a Lawson convenience store and use the Loppi machine to purchase tickets; they usually do have tickets available a week or two in advance, and they're half as expensive that way.

Anyhow, my sister was completely enchanted by the Ghibli Museum, so yay. Took the Ghibli-liveried bus back to Mitaka station and went back to the hotel. Don't remember what we ate that night; we were still rather jet-lagged and out of it. That it was Tokyo in late July - i.e. around 80% humidity and in the low 30s Centigrade/high 80s-to-low-90s Fahrenheit - did not help our exuberance; my sister is like mom in that she doesn't handle that sort of weather well. That's what scheduling allowed for, though.
 
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From:randomdreams
Date:August 18th, 2014 02:16 am (UTC)
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That heat/humidity combo makes me think I may want to do a fall visit.
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From:moof
Date:August 18th, 2014 02:43 am (UTC)
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Yeah, I'd definitely recommend September-October or April-May instead of June-August, unless there were specific things going on you wanted to see (Comike, Obon, Tanabata.) It's rather oppressively hot.
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From:xeger
Date:August 18th, 2014 10:57 am (UTC)
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Indeedy -- it's like walking into a steam room, and you're always hot, sticky and icky outdoors.
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From:chipadeedoodah
Date:August 18th, 2014 02:34 am (UTC)
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Ghibli museum is on my list of things to do in this lifetime. :)

Also more than a little amused that iPhone autocorrect Ghibli to goblin.

Edited at 2014-08-18 02:35 am (UTC)
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From:moof
Date:August 18th, 2014 02:44 am (UTC)
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I suppose I should write up "moof's brief tourist guide to Tokyo" at some point.

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