Ghibli Museum; Nezu Shrine

This morning I went to the Ghibli Museum, the hometown of all things Totoro in Japan and, consequently, the world. Tickets are sold out months in advance, and although the entire journey there didn’t seem very busy at all, once inside the museum it was indeed a full house.

I was most charmed by the building itself, a beautiful house with winding staircases, little child-sized corridors, a roof garden… The collection comprises all kinds of material, from the early drafts to the finished celluloid (the ticket is a piece of one, in fact!). I loved checking out the actual storyboards for My Neighbour Totoro. They’re drawn with such detail that some frames could have been painted over and included in the film.

I was very disappointed, however, to find that there were no English explanations to be found anywhere in the museum. The room that reproduces an animator’s desk is probably fascinating, but without being able to understand the numerous panels detailing the creation process to me it was just some desks with pencils. My Japanese is nowhere near good enough to understand, let alone read, that kind of description! As with most of my trip here, the majority of visitors were Japanese, but surely foreign guests must make up a sizable percentage of visits?

When I got back to Tokyo, not long after lunch, I decided it was time to get some sorely needed rest. The fatigue from all these days walking all over the city builds up quickly, and I need to pace myself if I want to make the most of my remaining week and a half here!

So I went to visit the Nezu shrine, because it’s a stone’s throw away from Sawanoya and gave me the chance of telling myself I had done something in the afternoon and then keel over in my room and rest for the, uh, rest of the day.

As it happens, I loved the visit -it’s very quiet, very peaceful, and has a very neighbourly feel to it (a couple of moms greeted me as I walked by). It has a small pond with swimming koi and sunbathing turtles, its own path of torii, some interesting statues…

And, best of all, some of the trees have begun blossoming, which gave the whole scene a beautiful touch of colour. I may yet see some spring sceneries after all!

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