So, it’s been a few months since I started this post and it kind of fell by the wayside. Nevertheless, better late than never, right?
I love Tokyo for many reasons; it’s glowing lights, it’s thriving population, it’s fancy technology and ridiculous fetishes. This city, I feel, did not suit Beth so well. Whilst I loved getting lost in the busy streets, strolling randomly and delighting in the high energy, Beth crashed pretty hard after the challenges of Korea. Still, there was magic yet to be discovered in the Ghibli Museum, and we got to access the rooftop garden now that it wasn’t snowing! It was wonderful becoming immersed in the beautiful hand-drawn art that made up the animations. The movie theatre with Sumo Mice (Chu Sumo) was fantastic, and well worth the trip for me (even though it’s the second time we’ve seen it).
I also had the immense pleasure of returning to Tokyo Disneysea. We started the day in very high spirits (hearing those Disney tunes at the train station literally got me skipping), and I fully embraced the Disney spirit. Better still, Craig got picked by the infamous comedic cleaner for one of his spontaneous skits (the gargling one!). Man, Westerners have all the luck. Once more we plunged 20 000 Leagues Under the Sea, which I admit lost some of its magic a second time around, though was still fantastically atmospheric. We trekked to Ikspiari’s Disney store so that Beth could accomplish her long held dream of acquiring new tsum tsums, and then parted for the day so that she could rest. When Craig and I got back (after a three hour detour for Starbucks), we watched a pretty cool wire-fu musical in the Mermaid Lagoon before finding ourselves by the bayside for a musical light parade. It turned out to be one of the greatest shows of all time with water, fog, laser beams and hot air balloons, and an epic story involving wicked witches and Sorcerer Mickey. Although it was an incredible spectacle to see from afar, I felt a little detached from the action. And just as I had the thought, the witch turned into a dragon and started coming through a magic doorway, breathing fire and threatening to destroy Imaginationland, and Mickey blasted it back through the portal with magic spells. It was freaking amazing to feel the heat and the involuntary shiver of fear as the park faced its obliteration!
Beth was still feeling pretty run down the next day, and Craig had other adventures to undertake, so I ventured back to Tokyo Disneyland for a solo adventure. I have to say, it was a very different experience going by myself, and I loved the freedom of going on whatever rides I wanted. And what rides! Star Tours, to my surprise, had done away with Darth Vader force-choking the ship and had received a makeover to star Rey, Finn, Poe and BB-8 flying the Millenium Falcon to reach the Rebel Base! (The guys in the queue in front of my were having an in-depth discussion about the Prequel movies, and I very nearly launched into my usual “Jar Jar Binks is a Sith Lord!” theory, but I restrained myself for the pleasure of passing as a non-English-speaking Japanese.) I passed by Thunder Mountain several times throughout the day, and when I finally plucked up the courage to line up, they had closed it for maintenance. Happily, I went to the much gentler Winnie The(r) Pooh ride, which was as captivating as it was charming. After some exploration I finally figured out how to get into the heart of the Disney castle itself, marvelling at the million little details that made it so regal and scoffing as a little girl dressed as Snow White tried to put on Cinderella’s glass slipper. It also must be mentioned that I came across a shooting gallery where I noticed a lady with gold and silver badges out the front. She explained that if I shot a Perfect 10 I would earn a silver, and if I hit the randomised LUCKY! target I’d get the gold! Moments later I walked out with this little beauty.
Surprisingly, my absolute favourite part of the day was discovering a magic shop where a lady holding a tophat whilst a miniature Winnie the Pooh performed magic tricks. As he casually connected and disconnected solid steel rings, breaking and reforming pencils, making Olaf’s head disappear in a hollow box without room for escape, making coins vanish out of the hands of children who clutched them tightly and generally defying every known law of physics, I couldn’t help but call out in surprise every few minutes. After long consideration, what I enjoyed most about it was that I prided myself on my intelligence (#Ravenclaw) and each of those tricks absolutely flummoxed me. I found great delight in my inability to figure out even slightly how they worked, and I’m rather sorry that I didn’t buy any of them to take home with me.
Adventures in Shibuya and Shinjuku saw us drawn to that magical Lofty wonderland, eating Coco Curry (a laughable amount of hotness after my conquest of kimchi jjigae), and asking a cute waitress about pudding parfait. Travelling solo, I had the pleasure of wandering through Ueno Park with its gilded pavilions in Japanese-speaking ravens. I also accomplished one of my great achievements of the trip by cracking 1000 points in the Toylets, which took several bottles of drinks and staggering down the streets looking for the arcade as I desperately tried not to pee myself. (In fact, I made this journey twice, having discovered the first time that the Sega arcade in Shibuya had been permanently closed down.)
This blog has waited quite long enough, so I’ll end by summarising my adventures thus: Japan is truly the land of my soul. I can’t even begin to describe how much it feels like home, even though I don’t really speak the language and can only begin to understand the crudest of customs and values. It’s been a great pleasure revisiting these stories and going through the photos, and I hope my journeys take me back once again to the Land of the Rising Sun.