It’s the 21st night of September y’all.
One of my former college roommates Oana (pronounced ‘Wanna’) always wanted to host an Earth, Wind & Fire themed party on this day so I am dancing in my skivvies in her honor. I also want to recap a few beautiful moments I have encountered so far this month…
This was actually the tail end of August, but I visited the Studio Ghibli museum in Mitaka, a wildly popular destination in Western Tokyo that requires a month’s advance reservation for tickets. Ghibli is responsible for famous anime films such as Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro and up until 2014 was helmed by director Hayao Miyazaki.
“The Ghibli Museum is a portal to a storybook world. As the main character in a story, we ask that you experience the Museum space with your own eyes and senses, instead of through a camera’s viewfinder. We ask that you make what you experienced in the Museum the special memory that you take home with you.”
Well said, but I still snuck this photo of stain-glassed Totoro and friends. The exhibits demonstrate how animation is painstakingly created, hand drawn pane by pane, and how motion picture can come to life with some optical trickery. One installation can be best described as a carousel of 3D characters arranged in a sequence of motions on a raised platform; flying cat buses, bouncing dust balls, girls playing jump rope, and malleable rabbits populate the scene. The diorama turns dark and then with the flash of strobe lights, the objects come roaring into motion, spinning round and round while you stare in amazement until you’re cross-eyed. I seize upon these moments; the joy of being an amused child again. Who wants to have a Miyazaki movie night?
To learn more, take a peek at this dreamy 2013 documentary about Studio Ghibli, The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness, following the creation and release of The Wind Rises and The Tale of the Princess Kaguya. Miyazaki is depicted as a somewhat curmudgeonly but essentially tender man whose love of children spurs him to create in their honor.
A Saturday outing with a friend from college on a day-long layover in Tokyo found me in Omotesando and Harajuku, witnessing a surprise taiko performance on the steps of the Tokyu Plaza department store (distinctive for its kaleidoscopic multi-mirrored entrance), visiting with bunnies at the ra.a.g.f rabbit café, spotting mario kart, and then…I caught pikachu! #childhoodachievementunlocked 😀
I love meeting friends from other parts of my life in Tokyo. Even if we haven’t seen each other in years it feels natural that we’d meet again in Japan. Our surroundings are already so foreign that the shock of seeing each other again feels benign.
I went to my first Ultra with these two babes. I adore Mika and Ai. They’re not only outwardly beautiful humans but also really lovely, kind souls. The type of people who are easy to spend time with because they just radiate positivity and good humor. Also they get down on the dance floor.
I wish I’d taken more photos of the whimsical and usually matching outfits on display at this festival (on the whole kawaii or sexy, but some were also downright scary); once the dancing begins though I tend to get preoccupied…In typical Tokyo fashion, we queued for 15 minutes to take a photo with this sign.
I discovered Bridge Coffee, a coffee shop in Asakusa about a 15 minute stroll from my apartment. It has amazing espresso, friendly hipster baristas (a rarity to find both, believe me), and FREE WIFI, making it the perfect study destination. I sort of felt like I was in San Francisco sitting in its modern concrete interior, like the reinvention of cool in some converted warehouse turned co-working space. My friend Fernando spent the afternoon reading while I plodded away on logical reasoning questions (blech). The thick muffle of summer is dissipating and the air feels cool blowing through the wind tunnels of each train station. The autumn equinox tomorrow means summer is officially over, as is my first year in Japan. I’m looking forward to cozy scarves, the burnt colors of fall, and koyo season (autumn leaf viewing). I might have to indulge in some of that pumpkin spice as well just as a reminder that at home, I’m still basic…😝
xo your friend alice
Location: Studio Ghibli Museum, Inokashira Park, Mitaka-shi // Omotesando and Harajuku, Shibuya-ku // Odaiba Ultra Park, Koto-ku // Matsugaya, Taito-ku, Tokyo, Japan