11 June 2009

Back in Mie

Heyla. We're back from Tokyo. We finally arrived back at the apartment at about 8pm-ish this past Monday, and we were exhausted, to say the least.

I hate that the only 2 times I've been to Tokyo so far, has been for business purposes only, and that does not give us the luxury of meandering around and taking in the sites at a leisurely pace. We probably won't be back to Tokyo again before we leave Japan, so I'm a little bummed that the 2 times spent there were stress-filled, fast-paced treks.

The one word to summarize the two days we were there this time is, exhausting. Without a doubt.

On Sunday we left for Nagoya at about 11am. We had decided to go and visit Nagoya Castle for the first time and hopefully it would kill a lot of time, because we had to stay in the city until 11pm, when our midnight bus arrived for Shinjuku. We got to Nagoya station, and wandered for a little while inside the station, riding the army of elevators and escalators to the top floors. This was kind of a bad idea, since it was Sunday after all, which meant every citizen of Nagoya and their entire family - was out and shopping. Which made riding the escalators very very slow going.

If cattle could ride escalators - then I felt like we were cattle being herded up and down the different floors of the building that day. Takeshi and I quickly got out of there and decided to head over across the wide street and have lunch at 'Yoshinoya', one of my favorite places to eat. I love their beef bowls, with kimchi and miso soup! Yum. I've always found that whenever we go to eat at a 'Yoshinoya', or 'Sugakiya' (similar establishment), I'm the only girl in there at the time! I sit down at the usual row of bar-stool-type seating, in between salarymen, and of course get weird sideways glances. "Hey look it's a girl, and she's a foreigner too!" Haha.

So after lunch we headed over a few stores to the huge-o electronic store because Takeshi wanted to buy a special lens filter for our Nikon D60. Mission accomplished there, after 10 minutes of NO ONE being able to help us on that particular floor. Takeshi wanted to know the difference between some filters, which were the TYPE he wanted, but were different prices. He tried asking the cashier dude about it, and was told, "Well, if you buy the more expensive one, it will be much better."

What a lame answer. Takeshi said grumbly, "Obviously the guy didn't know jack about it..."

So the rest of the day was actually spent trying to figure out WHAT to do until 11pm. We found out that by the time we had eaten lunch and gotten the filter, that the Nagoya Castle was going to close at about 4pm. It was already 3:30-ish when we found out - oops, we never checked the times for the castle. Damn. Oh well. But now, we had about 6.5 hours to kill. Not an easy task.

I never knew that trying to find stuff to do would be so damn tiring! We walked all over the main area near the station, and also went down a few blocks into the city and came back. Eating food, walking, snack, drink, walking, wandering, sitting down, spacing out while trying to think of where to go...and over and over.

Fast forward to the bus finally arriving. The group for our bus met at the huge fountain outside the station. We found a lady standing next to a fold-up sign holder which had the bus company's name and such on it. We checked in, she scratched off our name, and they led us to the tour-style bus parked a few yards away on the curb. So started the fun of trying to sleep.

The bus was nice though. The seats were very interesting, and cool, and would totally help me (more) to sleep on the ride there, or so I thought at the beginning. The seats came with your own personal red blanket, and the seats had this part on the back, behind your head that you could bring up and pull over your head - think of them like the dome-shaped things people use in hair salons, while reading a magazine. It helped to block out some of the light coming from anywhere. You could prop your legs up, put the seat back a fair amount, etc.

When we got onto the bus we were both fairly tired already, so I thought I'd have more of a chance to settle into the drifting-into-sleep mode, once we got comfy in our seats. Oh! And - dumb Laura forgot to bring her motion sickness medicine with her that day. :) This was gonna' be good....

The problem I have, usually, is sleeping on my back with my head facing upwards, like a mummy. I can't sleep like that without feeling dizzy. I can't get comfy like that. I sleep on my sides, all the time at home. I've seen Takeshi sleep in every type of position before, even on his stomach and such.

So long story short, Laura's plan to try to get some shut-eye was a failure. Big surprise, huh? And I desperately wanted to fall asleep. I was so tired. Takeshi turned on his iPod, and quickly fell asleep sitting up-right and everything - and here I was, as usual, wide awake. I was sitting in the row seat which was not a good idea as well, since there's nothing for me to rest my head on to either side of me, so I was really forced to lay facing up. I was so motion-sick, and was exhausted. We left the station at 11pm, and I tried to get to sleep immediately but to no success.

I tossed and turned with my eyes closed - couldn't sleep - looked the clock - it was 1am.

I toss and turn some more - looked again - it was close to 2am.

The bus made a stop at a highway rest-stop area, and I tapped Takeshi to wake him up for a minute. I saw the other people still sleeping around us, all comfy and SLEEPING...I was beyond frustrated and needing sleep, so I couldn't help but have myself a small "Why Can't I Fall Asleep" cry, while we were sitting there. I was not a happy camper. Takeshi saw me in tears and shrugged and said, "It's ok...I can't sleep either."

....Huh? I just saw him being clunked-out for the past 2-3 hours so far, and he says he's having trouble sleeping? I could have reached over right then and there, and messed up his handsomely-done waxed, hairdo....Ugh. Maybe he just said that to make me fell better. Haha. I don't know.

But we did do something that helped me out a little bit - switch seats, and let me be at the window, so I could half-collapse onto it.

All in all, I think I managed to get about 2 hours sleep. I am convinced Takeshi got more sleep than I did. I hate my body sometimes, or my mental ability - WHATEVER is keeping my from being able to fall asleep on public transportation.

At one point during my exhausted, desperate state of mind during the ride - I wished someone could have knocked me over the head with a brick or something. Hehe...ugh.

So we arrive in Shinjuku a little bit before 6:30am. The weather for the rest of the day was cloudy, and humid. It looked like it had rained there over night. We stumbled out of our bus, and croaked out a quick, "ありがとうございました" to the bus drivers.

To summarize the whole embassy trip - I'm happy to say that we have Takeshi's visa now to go to the States, and we can give an address to the people at immigration when we arrive in the U.S., to mail his green-card to! よかった!

We did make it to the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, and we had an awesome time there. The place was PACKED, with mostly adults who brought their small children. Oh boy...

You could not, indeed, take photos inside the museum but I did take a quick photo of the outside before we left. Evidence of us actually being there. I bought a Studio Ghibli Museum T-shirt and a little pin. The museum was like stepping into a Miyazaki movie! I almost felt like a could be in one of the houses by the sea, in the "Kiki's Delivery Service" movie. The museum has three floors, with cool staircases and walkways everywhere, almost like a maze. The interior was made of hardwood, and huge plushy armchairs were scattered throughout the hallways. Stained glass windows depicted scenes from several of his movies, with dozens of characters. One room was filled with different hand-on examples of different types of animation and film processes throughout history.

The room we loved the best was a set of three small, connected rooms which were modeled after a sort of art studio and study rooms, where Miyazaki may even have created some of his films in. All of the rooms where an homage to the great amount of work and creative thought-process it takes to create a finished film, and it was great to see the different stages. The first room was lined with actual sketches that Miyazaki and drawn. And I mean - LINED. Thousands of sketches, watercolor sketches plastered the walls, where you couldn't see the wall at all - the mass of paper climbed up to the ceiling almost. Even a few pieces of paper had been attached to the wooden ceiling beams. Sketches of Kiki, Haku, Chihiro, Totoro, and so many others were everywhere, and you could see exactly how Miyazaki had started to bring them to life, to develop them into the characters we know now.

The second room held more art, but a little more refined pictures, and now joined by examples and studies of landscapes, plants, animals, and architecture. Bookshelves were stuffed with reference books of every kind, and toys and trinkets were piled up on the large wooden desk in the corner. In the last room, the process of cell-coloring was presented, and you could observe how the artists at Ghibli finished off the art for a film. Glass bottles filled with paint, jars filled with paintbrushes of every size, and color swatches were crowding a wooden work table. More, now finished and fully developed character art and profiles of characters were posted up on one side of the room.

I loved those three rooms. As an artist myself, I loved to see a master artist and filmmaker work out his personal process of creating his characters and worlds they inhabited. I could the love and time it took to really bring them to life.

It was sad to leave, but we had to head home before it got too late. We still needed to ride the shinkansen back to Nagoya and then the regular train from there, back to Suzuka.

We started our journey back home, in Tokyo at about 4pm-ish, and got home at about 8pm-ish.

Here are some photos of our trip this time:


Lulu said...

Such a shame we could not meet up while you were up this way! I am glad to hear that T got his visa all sorted though, must be a relief.

All of that immigration, embassy stuff is always such a headache.

I am glad you liked Ghibli- I love it there. I used to live about a 10 minute walk from the museum (and the park) and before that I was a student in Kichijoji too so I know the area well. I wish we could go back to living in West Tokyo but it will not be happening anytime soon, probably never. The rent was just too expensive. Even when I was a student my rent in my dorm was expensive. Then later I was paying 90,000 a month (then later Shun moved in) for a 1K. When we moved we looked in that area but we could not afford anything bigger in our price range, such a shame since it is such a lovely area.

I have never been to Nagoya before- was interesting to see how you found it!

Sara said...

OMG - I completely have felt the same way about the whole gyudon chain place thing!!

When I was in Kobe I would occasionally go to Matsuya or Yoshinoya for lunch and just like you said ONLY FEMALE plus "rarity points" for being foreign!!! Lol

I REALLY REALLY want to go to the Ghibli Museum one day... sounds like so much fun! Glad you had a successful trip :)