Thursday, November 5, 2009

"Otaku" tour of Tokyo! Day 2

Day 2 (Sunday, October 11th) we headed out to the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka!! Even though it was my third visit there, it was still a lot of fun. Plus, I got to try out the autumn menu in the Straw Hat Cafe!! I had the Open Sandwich with Meatloaf and Cheese (麦わらぼうしの手作りミートローフサンド), Sunset Cream Soda (夕焼けクリームソーダ), and Pumpkin Chiffon Cake with Ice Cream (かぼちゃシフォンケーキ)!! Nate had the Katsu Sandwich (くいしんぼうのカツサンド) and Mikan Juice.

As usual, I ended up buying a fair bit at both the gift shop and book shop. In particular, there was a book, Asobi no Fuukei (秋田、遊びの風景) written and illustrated by Oga Kazuo (男 鹿和雄) that was about his childhood in Akita Prefecture. Since Akita Prefecture is right below Aomori and part of the Tohoku area, I simply had to buy it! Of course, it will probably take me a really long time to actually finish reading (even with the pictures, it's a lot of text!), but it's good Japanese practice, so I'll do my best! ^___^

Oh, and when I went there in spring with my mom & dad and friends Brenda & Cecilia, my parents bought me a set of (5) Totoro glasses and coasters. This time (with Nathan), I bought myself a set of (5) Totoro pudding bowls! =P I don't expect to actually make pudding, but I can always use them for ice cream or something. 

Apart from things that I purchased for myself, I also got an awesome present from Nate: a Totoro necklace!! I'd actually wanted the necklace since the first time I visited the museum in April 2008, but since it was a little over 10,000 yen ($100) I could never justify the cost to myself. But since Nathan offered to buy it for me, well... ^___^ I'd say it's probably my favourite piece of jewelry right now.

After Ghibli, we headed to Odaiba to check out The National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (Miraikan). Unfortunately since we got there fairly late in the afternoon, the really cool-looking simulator rides/experiences were already closed. There was still plenty to see/do, but it was pretty busy and I think neither of us felt like waiting for all the children to finish playing with various exhibits so we could try them out, so I think we didn't get as full of an experience of the Miraikan as we could have. 

But still, I learned about bioplastics--plastics produced by plants. It's pretty cool. I guess I had heard of it before--water bottles made from corn--but hearing about it at the Miraikan I was still like "Woah, that's really cool." Of course I'm sure there's probably a big debate about using plants to make plastics instead of using them (or the land used to grow such plants) for food, but it was interesting to learn more about the science behind it.

After the Miraikan we wandered around Odaiba for a while. We stopped by the Fuji TV building (although we didn't go inside), saw a replica Statue of Liberty, and wandered through the Aqua City and Decks Tokyo Beach shopping centres. We had sushi/sashimi for dinner at a restaurant in Decks Tokyo Beach. 

Once we were done at Odaiba, we headed to Tokyo Tower. It was a lot more crowded than I expected it to be. @_@ To get tickets to the Special Observatory (250m) you had to buy tickets for the main observatory (150m), go up and then buy the tickets from there. I can't remember exactly how long we waited, but I think it was probably close to an hour and we barely made it to the last admission time (although I think they extended it that night since there were lots of people who were in line and were able to come up after us... But the view from the Special Observatory really was a lot better than from the Main Observatory, so I guess it was worth all the waiting. ^__^

Oh, and apparently we were also lucky to see a "Special Day Only Light Veil, Diamond Veil: New light up performs in the Tokyo night. On special days the Tokyo Tower glistens like it is covered in a diamond veil."

Diamond Veil illumination

Regular illumination

After Tokyo Tower, we went to the National Diet Building.(国 会議事堂). This is where the "otaku" part really becomes obvious...

The reason we went there--and why we went specifically at night--is because my brother (well, I am, too) is a big fan of the manga/anime series "X" by CLAMP. The Diet Building is a prominent location in the series since one of the characters, the dream seer Hinoto is employed by the national government and actually lives (and works) in the basement. Since the characters usually visit the building at night, my brother also wanted to see it at night! 

As we were walking to the building, we saw a police/security guy walking around the perimeter of the grounds. Then when we got to the main entrance, we saw a police car parked in front of the gate! With the car there, it was a little intimidating to go right up to the gate, so we went across the street and stood in the median area and took pictures from there. (Which was probably more suspicious than if we'd simply gone up to the gate, but oh well...) As we were finishing up with our pictures, we saw a man and a young boy (presumably father and son) run right up to the gate, pointing excitedly before running off.

Seeing them we got the courage to go up to the gate as well and so we took more pictures from there. While we were taking pictures, the two (or possibly just the boy? I can't quite recall...) reappeared with a woman--presumably the mother. Who knew the Diet Building was such a popular night attraction? I mean, it was around 11pm when we were there! =P 

After that we went back to the hotel where we packed our bags (in preparation for checking out the next day)  

(See my complete album from Nate's trip to Japan at

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