Day 4 - The Ghibli Museum, Tokyo Dome and a hearty meal.
We woke up fairly late at around 10am as the kebab seller below the guest house had been shouting "egg and sausage" continuously till the early hours of the morning. We did sleep a bit though and had a pre-booked ticket for today to visit the Ghibli Museum in nearby Mitaka. We had a short walk around Koenji before heading to the station, stopping at a vending machine along the way.
I was really liking iced coffee so went for this espresso, not quite as nice as yesterdays choice though as I prefer it white and a bit sweeter.
My wife picked this cherry drink, a great choice on this hot day and really delicious.
The train ticket machine was fairly easy to use and fairs were really reasonable. It cost about £1 to get into central Tokyo, today though we were travelling the opposite way to Mitaka.
As we waited for the train we noticed another area of Koenji the other side of the station that we had not yet explored.
The line running through Koenji was the Chuo line, like all trains in Japan it was incredibly efficient. We had not yet experienced rush hour but had a feeling we would at some point during our stay.
At Mitaka station decided to pick up some breakfast, there was so much to chose from we spent ages deciding. My wife chose mushroom and bean rice which she really enjoyed.
I went for this rice and battered chicken dish. The batter on the chicken was quite soft but still tasted great, the yellow slab was egg which was a nice surprise. A far cry from a Full English but an excellent breakfast all the same!
Just past the train station we spotted the first sign for Ghibli Museum.
I had been a bit concerned about the spider situation in Japan but these yellow and black ones were the only type I ever saw. Fairly big but only ever in trees and bushes as far as I could see, this was quite a relief!
This banana juice we got from a vending machine was just amazing.
Eventually we arrived at Ghibli Museum, my wife was so excited and had been looking forward to this for ages. Her excitement had rubbed off on me and I was keen to see catbus.
Totoro greeted us as we approached but I had the feeling we were being watched by somebody else.
The soot sprites were watching us through the window too!
Opened in 2001 Ghibli Museum showcases the work of the Japanese animation studio "Studio Ghibli" and tickets can only be purchased online before arriving in Japan. Once inside you are not allowed to take photos which is probably quite a good thing as it means you fully focus on everything on display. The ticket you are given contains a film cell from a Ghibli film, you can later get this stamped when you go through to watch an exclusive short Ghibli film that only visitors to the museum get to see. Sadly only children get to climb inside the giant Catbus on the top floor, the adults looked on in envy!
It's ok to take photos once outside again, this is the garden that surrounds the museum. There were some places to eat but all were totally full up with queues of people waiting for the next sitting so we didn't eat here.
A full size Laputa robot sits proudly on the roof top garden.
Looking around the Ghibli Museum was thirsty work so we stopped at another vending machine. My wife tried her luck with this, a fizzy and fruity vitamin C drink, very nice indeed!
I went for an iced black coffee, not a good plan though as I much preferred the white iced coffee so would not be making this mistake again.
Our next stop was the Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum. Dedicated to the architecture of the late Edo period, this outdoor museum showcases historic buildings, including 200-year-old farmhouses and speciality shops filled with reproduction products, such as a soy sauce shop, Japanese umbrella shop, and stationary store.
We spotted another vending machine and fed it some lose change. My wife loves iced tea and deciding to be adventurous, she chose an iced green tea. It tasted of iced wood and despite trying it a number of times later we couldn't believe anybody could seriously enjoy it, it must be an acquired taste.
As my wife was suffering from vending machine disappointment I managed to win the jackpot with my choice. Mitsuya Cider was in a giant 500ml can and I had no idea if it was indeed a can of cider or a soft drink. Hoping it was a soft drink I took my first sip, the most amazing grape/bubble gum flavour hit my taste buds. This stuff was amazing and I would certainly be looking out for it again in vending machines during my time in Japan.
These looked interesting and costing just over £1 each it seemed worth trying.
All I can tell you is they have a bland chewy centre and really salty outside with seaweed on. Sadly a low point of the Japanese food adventure, you never know unless you try though!
These canned food labels from many years ago were just amazing.
It was just between these two buildings that somebody called me over to ask if I was going to be seeing The Meteors during their Japanese tour in a few days time. I told him we were going to see them in Osaka on Sunday, he then broke the bad news that their tour had been postponed due to visa issues. Seeing The Meteors in Osaka was initially going to be my highlight of our time here but having already seen so many amazing things and met so many lovely people I decided it wasn't the end of the world. We were told that the support bands would still be putting on a show in Osaka which we decided to go to anyway to experience a gig in Japan.
We headed back into the centre of Tokyo on the JR Chuo line. It is very common in Japan to see somebody sit down on a train and within seconds start napping, often still holding their mobile phone like this chap. Everyone here is so trusting and honest the chances are nobody would ever dream of taking it from you.
I had been talking about Tokyo Dome City for over a year, there was something there that had caught my attention..
The Thunder Dolphin rollercoaster!! The 7th tallest in the world and it even goes through the middle of the giant ferris wheel. The first drop is 80° and the top speed is 81mph, bloody good fun and amazing views of Tokyo.
Thunder Dolphin even goes through the Laqua building! At just £6 a go it is something you will want to ride again, we decided to ride it again another day in daylight.
This was great fun too, you stand in a metal cage that goes up to your armpits and are hoisted gently up to the top of the tower. Just as you are making out some of the buildings on the skyline it drops you back down again, but going down is much faster than you are hoisted up!
Back in Koenji we were determined to find this place, Bar Rumholic had been recommended to us by a friend. We searched for quite sometime and asked many passing people where it was but nobody seemed to know. This made me even more determined to find it another night.
We found a traditional Japanese restaurant and headed inside, we ordered a beer which arrived with a heart on top. The staff here were incredibly welcoming and friendly, the menu was in Japanese though so ordering could be a bit tricky.
Whilst looking through the menu a cucumber and some raw cabbage arrived at the table along some kind of dip.
The teriyaki dip was just amazing, I am not sure we were supposed to but we finished off the whole pot with ease.
This place made great use of drink crates!
We asked for some plum wine but the waiter struggled to understand us and we didn't know how to ask in Japanese so we had another beer.
Although the menu was in Japanese the photos were a great help, we both chose this dish, it was the fried egg that was the deal clincher for me.
The dish sizzled when we poured on the soy sauce. These noodles were delicious but what really stood out was the flavour of the heart shaped egg, so different to eggs back home with a really rich creamy taste and a deep orange yolk.
The waiter placed this on the table at the end of the meal. We felt terrible that he felt the need to apologise, he had been very helpful using English to communicate with us and we should really have learnt Japanese as we were in Japan. This place was amazing and all the staff bowed as we left thanking us for dining in their restaurant, we bowed back and decided to go for one more drink somewhere on the way back to the hotel.
The photo is not easy to make out as this place "Rock Bar Heaven" was so dark inside. As we opened the door the guy behind the bar welcomed us into the smallest bar we had ever seen. It had seven seats around the bar, a large TV screen, lots of band posters on the wall and a huge collection of music DVD's. He invited us to chose a music DVD whilst pouring us a vodka and tonic, we chose The Clash. He put the DVD on and turned the volume up high, it was too loud to speak to anyone else so we just sat and watched the screen feeling a bit stunned. Although welcoming we didn't really fancy staying for another drink as the whole experience was quite surreal so we bid the owner goodbye and headed to 7-11.
Tonight's late night snack was Hitokuchi Cookies, fairly plain but each one was a different animal, nice!
Click here for Day 5
A cat cafe, Harajuku and dinner at an Alice in Wonderland restaurant
A cat cafe, Harajuku and dinner at an Alice in Wonderland restaurant