Yesterday we took the train a little ways out of town to visit the Studio Ghibli Museum. It was charming, comfortable, and inspiring. They don't allow photography inside, and at first I was bummed about that, but I quickly changed my mind. It was nice to see families roaming around and interacting with the displays instead of posing in front of everything, and I can't be the only amateur photographer to sometimes feel relieved to enjoy something special without worrying if I'm taking good enough pictures of it.
I do wish I could have taken a video of the huge, three-dimensional Bouncing Totoro zoetrope. It stopped every few minutes so everyone could see the individual figures and how the animation works. Invariably more people would wander in while it was stopped, and when the lights went off and it started up again they would all gasp--it was that cool.
I could go on and on about the place, but instead I'll link to Hayao Miyazaki's vision for the museum and say that I thought it was realized pretty much exactly.
After all that joy and whimsy, we took the train to the dark and disreputable-seeming Nakano Broadway Mall so Eric could shop for Japanese monster figures. Man, that place was a fascinating mess. Antique shops, overflowing toy stores, doll parts stores, cosplay outfit outlets, military surplus shops, a Michael-Jackson-themed-crap store, and regular low-end mall stuff like women's apparel and costume jewelry. Most of these places were run by glowering people of indeterminate age. (I didn't take many pictures there either, mostly because I was scared to ask.)
I snapped up a pair of striped low-top Chucks that were on sale for about $35 and looked at a pair of Super Mario Brothers high tops that were really awesome but $90 and not in my size.
Less awesome was the bunch of lighters and wallets and stuff like that with Nazi swastikas on them in a case in the back of a figurine shop. It is shocking and unpleasant to just bump into a swastika in real life like that; it simply doesn't come up that often in the U.S.
The whole mall smelled like 70 mazillion cigarettes had been smoked inside. Also a big storm that was rumored to be shutting down train service later was bearing down, so people were pulling their grates down early. I wasn't sorry we went there, but I was glad when Eric found what he was looking for so we could skedaddle.
Now, for good measure, here is a picture of a sign advertising nose-hair trimmers at a variety store in Ginza:
And here is a very lovely scene in Shinjuku National Garden today, where the cherry blossoms are just beginning to come into bloom:
Two more nights and one more day in Tokyo, which is incredible but starting to kick our asses. I'll be glad to get to Okinawa--and some family--on Friday.