Saturday, 18 February 2017

Kabukiza and Studio Ghibli Museum

This trip we went and did a lot of Japanese cultural things that we could not get the same experience outside Japan. We went to a kabuki show at the most famous theatre in Tokyo, Kabukiza. I'm going to be honest, I don't know which show we saw. You have to get tickets online and it doesn't say what show it is.We did not care what show it was. We wanted to experience kabuki, and we did.

 It was unlike any performance I have ever seen. Kabuki means the art of singing and dancing. It was so interesting. Very much reminded both Ellen and I of our childhood watching Mukashi Banashi (a Japanese cartoon about traditional Japanese folk tales). It was loud, with the banging of the blocks. The makeup was pretty amazing. Brought back a lot of childhood memories. 

Eating kabuki while watching kabuki. This is our favorite senbei, a Japanese rice cracker. The kanji for it means kabuki. We thought it appropriate to take some with us to snack on. 

Coco Ichibanya, a Japanese curry chain we saw every where. Cosette is not a fan of Japanese curry, but maybe now she will be since there is a whole chain named after her. 

The most highly anticipated activity of the trip was going to the Studio Ghibli Museum. We have been Studio Ghibli fans from a young age. Our Japanese friends brought us a VHS of Totoro one year when we were little (my parents still have it), and we all fell in love with the show. Ellen is totally Mae, and the dad is the anime caricature of our Dad. There is one part in the show where Mae runs off and they can't find her. I cry at that part every time now when I watch it with my kids, because they love Totoro too (Cosette and Henry were Totoros for Halloween one year, post here). I wish they had been with us because they would have died and gone to heaven. Catbus, Totoro, and Gigi! It is any studio Ghibli fan's heaven. 

Miyazaki melds the Japanese and European culture together and creates the most beautiful, thoughtful films. The museum was built just like a house from his films. I seriously want my house to be built like it, if we ever have a house. 

You have to buy tickets online way in advance. We did not realize you had to buy them in advance, but luckily found tickets on Japan Wonder Travel for not much more than the museum charges. We got a really good deal on our sumo tickets on that site as well. So I highly recommend checking out their deals if you ever go to Tokyo. 

My neighbor Totoro.

Waiting to get in to the Museum and beyond excited. 

Sunsetting on Laputa

Posing with the giant robots from Laputa on the roof top of the Museum. 

I did not want to leave. There was an adult size catbus that we got to sit in, AND you sink into the seats just like Mae and Satsuki do in the film! No pictures are allowed inside the Museum, which is a shame. It was kind of like being at Disneyland, except Miyazaki themed. There was a lot about the animation and how the films are made. We loved it!

And on the way home that night we saw another childhood cartoon favorite, Anpanman! And Ellen and I should own up and say we would still watch Anpanman today if we could get a hold of it. 

I found a link to a Mukashi Banashi show right here, if you want to check it out. A lot of my youtube searches are for old Japanese cartoons that we would watch. This is the exact Mukashi Bunashi, I only wish it had the theme song with the dragon. 

Wednesday, 15 February 2017


 Our last day with the Yamanas, Noriko-san showed us around their neighborhood in Kamakura! Kamakura is the ancient capital of Japan. One of my most favorite places to have visited there. Absolutely amazing. Temples, shrines everywhere. It was my favorite day from our last trip to Japan way back in 2012 when Cosette was a one and I was younger. 

The Yamanas thought it would be nice to take us to Enoshima. Enoshima is an island off the coast of Kamakura. Super close to the mainland. There is a foot bridge that we walked over to get to. It is a really small island that is basically a mountain. We got a lot view of Fuji-san! Not sure if I will ever make it to Mount Fuji, but I have seen it! That was a highlight for sure. 

Enoshima is home to the beautiful Enoshima Shrine. The whole path up to it was lined with shops and areas for the hot springs, which is another thing Enoshima is known for. Unfortunately did not have time for that. Once we got to the bottom of the Shrine's stairs I felt like Gus Gus from Cinderella a bit. Those stairs went on and on and on for a while. No sign of the top from the bottom. Walking up the stairs is part of the journey, and we made it. This shrine honors the Benzaiten, the Buddhist goddess of music. The shrines are just incredible. It does not matter how many I have gone to, I am just constantly in awe of them. 

We continued up the mountain, this time by escalator. At the top of the mountain there are the Samuel Cocking Gardens and the Sea Candle light house which gives you stunning views of everything. The view was beautiful. The gardens were filled with tulips and I wished we could have stayed till dark because their was a light festival going on for the new year at that time. We still have a couple more things on our agenda and had to get back to Yokohama that night, so not possible. 

It was a cloudy day, but you can get a glimpse of Mount Fuji through there. 

The old man and the sea.

There were Black Kites almost swarming the area as we walked over to Enoshima. It was crazy how many of them there were and how low they flew, like they almost hit some people in the head. 

My favorite part was running into this Hello Kitty theme store and cafe. I love Hello Kitty and would totally have a giant Hello Kitty stuffed animal taking up space in my apartment. 

Sisters and Hello Kitties!


Feeling like Gus Gus. 

All hail the great stone dragon (behind me). 

Coastline heart eyes for days. 

Mount Fuji!

 When in Kamakura, go visit the Big Buddha. One of the coolest and biggest Buddhas in Japan. It is beautiful and I love it. We made it in the nick of time before the sun set. The sun sets dreadfully early in the winter, like in the UK. We had to get all our sightseeing in before 4pm everyday and we made it to see the Buddha at twilight. There is a pedestal in the front of the Buddha for people to place offerings, I cannot remember if anyone had left and offering when we were there. Last time with Lyndon, someone had left a watermelon which was a big deal because Japanese watermelon are just really special. I don't remember why, but I thought it was sweet that someone left a watermelon for the Buddha. 

Try and fill them shoes. 

Inside Buddha's belly.

A jumping pic for good measure. I am sad that Ellen did not get to see more of the beauty that Kamakura holds. It is such an incredible place. I could go on and on about it. Till we meet again Kamakura. 
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