Photo TR - Xcoaster in Japan - Culture/Studio Ghibli Museum

Page 5: Studio Ghibli Day 11/24/11
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Re: Photo TR - Xcoaster in Japan - Fuji-Q

Postby Trevannosaurus Rex » Thu Feb 02, 2012 10:14 am

From the way the trips planned out it looks as if Fuji Q will be the first day, so I guess I'll just have to cross my fingers for good weather and 2 train operation! Thanks for the advice Xcoaster!

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Re: Photo TR - Xcoaster in Japan - Fuji-Q

Postby therooboy » Thu Feb 02, 2012 4:23 pm

A couple things not mentioned that i found on my visits.
Mad mouse was very quiet the first hour until the riders started leaving the big coaster lines.
Fujiyama easily had the shortest queue of the big coasters most of the day ranging from 40-90mins. The 40mins was at lunchtime & near the end of the day.
Hamster coaster & Nagashima water ride didnt open until 1 hour after opening.
Don't know if thats usual but thats what happened on my visit.

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Re: Photo TR - Xcoaster in Japan - Fuji-Q

Postby rockysam382 » Thu Feb 02, 2012 7:58 pm

I will be going down to Tokyo in October but I have still have my doubts as to whether I should give Fuji-Q a try or not? Is it worth the long trek down from Tokyo in your opinion? Also did you go on a weekday or weekend?

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Photo TR - Xcoaster in Japan - Culture/Studio Ghibli Museum

Postby Xcoaster » Sat Mar 24, 2012 7:54 pm

^ If you're into coasters at all you should give it a try. Go on a weekday and the lines should be more manageable.

Anyways, sorry for being extra super slow in posting this next update. This culture update doesn't involve traditional theme parks, per say, but has two (or 1.5) open-air architectural museums (theme parks in the very broadest sense of the term) and a visit to the awesome Studio Ghibli museum.
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On Thanksgiving 2011 I had the day off, and I finally managed to reserve a ticket to the Studio Ghibli museum in Mitaka, so I decided to center my day around a long-awaited visit to it. The first stop of the day was the Nihon Minka-en open-air museum in the Tama hills area of Tokyo.

This is the train station I used to get to it.
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Nihon Minka-en, the first open-air museum of the day, showcases Japanese folk houses, and was located in the same general area as Yomiuriland, a decent walk up the hill from the Mukogaoka Yuen train station. Unfortunately, I misread the museum’s website, and most of the park was closed when I got there (they’re closed on the day following a National holiday, and since Thanksgiving is celebrated on Wednesday in Japan, the park was closed Thursday…). So, I just walked around the outskirts of the park until I figured this out, took in what I could see, then took off after getting lunch.

This is partway up the hill to the park.
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Here's the entrance to the park. It was closed but at this point I figured, "Hey, maybe there's another entrance open somewhere else."
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A train car on display in the nearby park. There's a guy sitting inside reading a newspaper; I thought it was a funny place to hang out.
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The museum's restaurant, which is housed inside of one of their more iconic folk houses. Again, closed. At this point I was starting to get the impression that the park was closed today.
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Looking down on some of the other houses.
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A map of the museum layout.
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Near the rear gate to the park. At this point I figured out from one of the signs that the park was definitely closed.
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After walking back to the train station, I had lunch at Ootoya, a chain restaurant which seems to focus more on European style cuisine. I ate at another later, and both times it was pretty good. This time I had what turned out to be French Onion chicken soup. I was nearly finished with it before I realized what I was eating - I'd assumed it was a traditional Japanese onion stew.

Afterwards I thought I might swing by Yomiuriland and get my White Canyon credit and a few rides on Bandit (since I only had one before), but I made my third big dumb of the day (first was forgetting my passport and railmap) and took the train to Yomiuri Land Mae, which is NOT the station with the gondola ride to the park (that’d be Keioyomiuriland). I was already on the fence about visiting since I had to get to the Studio Ghibli museum by 4:00, so at this point I decided to abort and just went on to my next stop, the Edo-Tokyo outdoor museum.
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The Edo-Tokyo open-air architectural museum is in Koganei Park, a short bus ride away from Musashikoganei train station. The bus was pretty easy to figure out.
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Unfortunately, I didn’t have much time to spend here, since I had to get to the Studio Ghibli museum at 4:00, so I sped through the place in just about an hour. Honestly though, unless you really take your time going through each building and the museum, 2-3 hours would probably be plenty as it isn’t a particularly large complex.

This is a old police box.
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I think this is an old fire watch tower.
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It wasn’t entirely planned this way, but this whole day ended up being very Studio Ghibli focused. First, Nihon Minka-en was located in the Tama Hills / Tama New Town area, which was the setting for two Studio Ghibli films, "Whisper of the Heart", and "Pom Poko", both of which highlight the suburban sprawl that came to define the area. And while walking to the park, I noticed a tanuki crossing sign, which I believe were put into use because of "Pom Poko". My photo of it was a bit too blurry to post, however.

Going onto the Edo-Tokyo Open Air Museum, it was supposedly a major inspiration for Hayao Miyazaki when he was creating Spirited Away – from some of the interiors it’s easy to see how. To start, this trolley car is similar to the one from the film, and a very similar one was used as the projection room at the theater at the Studio Ghibli Museum.
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This street scene is similar to the line of shops from the beginning of "Spirited Away"
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Hayao Miyazaki also created the mascot for the park, a caterpillar.
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I liked the lighting inside the bathhouse.
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This bathhouse is supposedly an inspiration for the much taller bathhouse from "Spirited Away". Initially I didn't see it, but if you look at them side by side, they have the same basic design, this one is just 1000x shorter.
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This stationary shop is clearly the inspiration for the boiler room with all the drawers in "Spirited Away".
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Since I missed out on most of the folk houses of Nihon Minka-en, I was glad to see that the Edo-Tokyo museum had a few to spare.
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The interior of this house bears some resemblance to the interior of the bath house from "Spirited Away", particularly the living quarters.

Later I might to do a side-by-side comparison with some of the scenes from "Spirited Away" compared to the museum. Some of it is pretty striking.
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An old photography studio.
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Artsy photo of the entrance building.
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The entrance to the open air museum. Sorry about posting this last.
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So now we're walking to the Studio Ghibli Museum, located near the Mitaka train station. I’ve wanted to go to the Studio Ghibli Museum since I found out it existed. I was particularly fond of Hayao Miyazaki’s films back when I was in college, and I designed one section of my Rct2 park, DisneyAir, around his movies, so getting to finally visit their showcase has been one of my biggest priorities since I’d started visiting Japan. Unfortunately, on my first trip I never found a date when tickets were available, and my second trip was cut short. This time I got lucky in that I had a holiday off which was a normal weekday for almost everyone else.

Anyways, this is an elevated walkway at the Mitaka train station
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After about a 10 minute walk along this canal, you arrive at the Studio Ghibli Museum. There are plenty of signs along the way, but I didn't get any pictures.
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Totoro is manning the ticket booth at the false entrance to the museum. Note the sootballs in the port hole underneath.

I should mention at this point that the park doesn't sell tickets on site, you can only get them at the Lawson's convenience store or travel agents. It's not too difficult to buy your ticket in Japan at the Lawson's kiosk, with the only caveat being that part of the process involves typing your name into the machine, using Japanese characters. I had to get one of the employees at the shop help me enter my name in. Unfortunately, I couldn't find it on the ticket afterwards where it was printed, so I still don't know how to type it out.
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If you like the details and atmosphere of Disney parks, or if you've enjoyed the films of Studio Ghibli, I'd highly recommend a visit to this museum. Unfortunately, the museum doesn't allow photos inside the museum buildings, so you'll have to get a sense of it from the outside. I'll vouch for the inside however, and say it's incredible, atmosphere on par with the best of Disney's themed environments. Tons of little details, and a bunch of great exhibits. They have a detailed recreation of an animator's studio, beautiful 3D zoetrope sculptures that seem to move when under a strobe light, and recreations of various scenes from their films (the inside of the Catbus from "My Neighbor Totoro", the hat-shop from "Howl's Moving Castle", a forest scene from "Princess Mononoke", and the inside of the bathhouse from "Spirited Away"). The museum also features lots of stained glass, spiral staircases, a bridge spanning the interior of the building, and lots of little passages and rooms to explore. The idea behind it was to make it a place to explore. They say they don't allow photos so that you can make memories instead, but I imagine it could get pretty crazy inside if photos were allowed, so I'm not completely opposed to that rule.
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Outside the museum is a spiral staircase that takes you to the roof of the building, atop of which they have a garden and a sculpture of one of the robots from "Laputa: Castle in the Sky"
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Each museum ticket allows for one entry to their cinema, where they show a different short film each day. Each film is played exclusively at this theater and hasn't been released elsewhere. I got to see "The Day I Harvested a Planet," which was kind of like a sci-fi "Spirited Away" meets "Super Mario Galaxy." It was pretty cool. Also, each ticket was a small clip of film from one of their movies when it played in theaters. Mine was three frames of the airship 'Goliath' from Laputa.
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The outside restroom is colored appropriately.
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The museum has a number of levels.
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The entrance to the museum. Some of the outlying parts of the building remind me of Tattooine.
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Cats from "The Cat Returns," I think.
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One of the stained glass windows outside the building.
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One of the "Princess Mononoke" themed doors to the museum, and a small view of the inside, with its atrium-spanning bridge.
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The flying robot sculpture from "Laputa: Castle in the Sky"
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The working water well under the cover is supposed to be a recreation of the one from "My Neighbor Totoro"
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One of the stairwells for the museum.
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Next time I’d probably try for one of the morning tickets. I imagine it’d be less crowded, and might allow for more time in the museum (I’m not sure if they kick people out once their time is over).
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Like I said earlier, if you have any interest in the Studio Ghibli movies or themed environments on par with Disney, I'd highly recommend this museum.
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After the Studio Ghilbi Museum I walked around Mitaka a bit, then went to Shinjuku to look for dinner.
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Everywhere I went in Japan there were Christmas displays, with names like "Shining Heart Joyous X-Mas". Shinjuku was no exception.
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Shiny!
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For Thanksgiving dinner in Japan I had a savory crepe filled with sausage, meat, and cheese.

Anyways, thanks for viewing! I promise the next update will have coasters. It'll probably be Hamanako Pal Pal.
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Re: Photo TR - Xcoaster in Japan - Culture/Studio Ghibli Mus

Postby Trevannosaurus Rex » Sun Mar 25, 2012 12:29 am

Xcoaster wrote:Next time I’d probably try for one of the morning tickets. I imagine it’d be less crowded, and might allow for more time in the museum (I’m not sure if they kick people out once their time is over)..


Nah, that's not the case we went first thing (albeit on a Saturday) and the place was heaving. I spent an hour in the gift shop, just actually trying to see everything they had for sale, it was so packed in there!

Two Ghibli Museum updates in a week.....Seriously, go there people! It's awesome!

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Re: Photo TR - Xcoaster in Japan - Culture/Studio Ghibli Mus

Postby shivtim » Mon Mar 26, 2012 10:06 am

Thanks for the pics and review!
I've wanted to visit the Ghibli Museum for a while, but just didn't make it there the two times I was in Tokyo. Some day....
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