Monday, 17 March 2014

Adventures in Tokyo, Day Three

The undoubted highlight of day three in Tokyo, and possibly even of the whole trip, was our visit to the Ghibli Museum. We spent most of the day there and I still didn’t want to leave! I am however writing about the Ghibli Museum for Skwigly, so instead of writing the same thing here I’ll let you know when that article is up. For now, I’ll go into the other couple of bits and bobs that we did on day three.

On the train line back from the Ghibli Museum is a stop called ‘Nakana’. Now I don’t know if any of you have heard of Nakana Broadway before, but that was where we were headed. An enormous mall, Nakana Broadway is packed with shops full of anime, manga, figurines, key-rings, cosplay and more! Utterly crazy, the place is a nirvana for any and all anime/manga fans.

A wall in a manga shop!
The most exciting part for me were the shops that sold original pencil frames and original cells of various TV shows and films. They’re fairly expensive but oh, to have an original cell from a Ghibli film! Other programmes included were Pokémon, Dragon Ball Z, K-On!, Card Captor Sakura and so many more that I can’t name! The more anime-centric of those of us visiting ended up madly running between stores, desperately trying to take it all in before we left and spending an awful lot of money!

 While I enjoy anime and manga up to a point, there was only so much I could take. I bought myself a frame of Calcifer from ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’ and decided that that was enough for me. Leaving the others to find the Pokémon Centre, I headed with a small group to Harajuku.

The entrance of a model robot shop. We had to duck to get in!
The sun was setting at this point and we were gutted to find that the shrine we had wanted to visit, the Meiji Shrine, had just closed for the evening. We made a promise to ourselves to return though; from the closed gates we could see the enormous traditional gateway to the shrine at the edge of a forest, looking like nothing less than a gateway into an ancient world. Not to be put off our tourist-trail, after another wistful look back at the shrine entrance, we headed into town to do some shopping.

Harajuku is a mad place! Between buildings with grass lawns on their walls (I kid you not!) and mall elevators in crazed shattered-mirror entrances, the whole place was a little overwhelming. Moving from the westernised centre (not before picking up a Starbucks, I’m ashamed to admit), we found some more small Japanese clothes shops. These seemed at opposite ends of the spectrum from each other; on one side of the street were cosplay and cutesy shops whereas on the other side of the street were heavy metal and emo shops.

Duly tired after our long day and frightened by the seemingly bi-polar Japanese pop culture fashions, we headed back to the hotel to meet up with the others, find dinner and head to bed.