DAY 2: Musashino/Mitaka, Tokyo
We rode a crowded train to Inokashira Park. Er my gah! I'd never been on a train during rush hour... or remotely close to rush hour so I was not ready to be squeeeezed in, bodies touching. You can ask Brandon how much I need my personal space so this was a major test for me. I had a minor anxiety attack at one point when I felt like I was drowning in a sea of people but I did some breathing exercises and kept reminding myself that my stop is next even though it wasn't. My cousin laughed explaining it wasn't too bad... I can't imagine! I'd never survive a stuffed train commute on the daily. I don't even know how Bruce handled it but he was being held up by Brandon so I'm sure the air and view was nicer from up top.
Once we got to the massive park, I felt free. All the greens! I loved that everywhere we went, the trees had the healthiest, bright green color. Beautiful.
We had some time to kill before lunch so our Phamily rented out a swan boat while my cousin, his wife, and my aunt rented a row boat. Leg day for Brandon and me. Haha!
After lunch, we headed to the Inokashira Park Zoo. This was perfect for children Bruce's age. :)
It always amazes me how clean nearly every part of Japan is. It's kind of like being in Disneyland all the time. (Have you noticed how clean Disneyland is?) I was also surprised how I rarely saw smokers or smelled cigarettes. Eleven years ago, I remember smelling it everywhere I went, especially cafes and restaurants. So happy things have changed! :)
There was a little guinea pig petting area which Bruce was not a fan of (haha!) but look at this cutie!
Bruce and Brandon learned how to make rubber band shooters out of chopsticks. Bruce was so good hitting the paper cup targets... Brandon, not so much. :)
The zoo also has a mini amusement park. That's his "I'm having so much fun, I never want it to end" face. :D
The highlight of my trip was the Ghibli Museum. *heart eyes* Seriously, I already want to go back because I want to take my time reading every little thing and watch the featured movie next time! Everything was magical and inspirational. The details that are put into every scene, every process... LOVED getting a little peek behind the scenes! If photos were allowed inside, I would've had 10 posts just for Ghibli. ;)
Most of the windows had a stained glass scene or character from a Miyazaki film.
All the little details! I wish I bought so much more than I did in the gift shop. It was our first day out so I was being too conservative. My dad told me later that I should never hold back when visiting places like this because you just don't know if it'll be your last time! Lesson learned: Buy buy buy! ;)
My sweet aunt waited for us at this super cute cafe while we were exploring the museum. In case I ever come back, I want to stop by here too. :)
DAY 3: Yokohama, Kanagawa
My aunt and uncle drove us to the Yokohama Chukagai (Chinatown) the following day. It was Golden Week (a week of holidays in Japan) so it was crowded. My uncle took at turn into a tiny street littered with people at one point and we felt like we were the main attraction at a zoo. People hovered over our car with hateful stares and jumped out of the way annoyed, but the path wasn't only for pedestrians! Cray. We got there safely, ate lunch, and bought a ridiculous amount of steamed buns to go. ;)
The second half of the day was dedicated to Bruce's favorite Japanese character: Cheese or Cheezu. We went to the Anpanman Museum. I don't think Brandon and I have ever seen Bruce so ecstatic about EVERY part of any museum. He ran from one display to another, completely in his own world, taking in everything he saw. It was amazing. Even as an adult, I was impressed with all the ways they made each display interactive for children. The whole mall area was so well thought out too. You could literally go to Uncle Jam's bakery and buy all the types of bread which the main characters are made of.
(Sorry if I lost you here because if you aren't familiar with Anpanman, you probably don't understand what's going on. It took Brandon the whole tour of the museum to realize that all the characters were food based. Then everything made sense to him and he was impressed too. Haha!)
I didn't know Baby Bear had this many different poses.
He got to make his own mask (or headband?) at a crafting station and wore it the rest of the day.
I want to point out the biggest difference between American customer service and Japanese customer service. 99.9% of the trip, we encountered smiles and the friendliest of staff in Japan. You would never find these people NOT smiling or complaining or annoyed. The Anpanman museum was not an exception. The staff handled problematic children with the utmost care, using their sweetest calm voices and all with a smile. Brandon joked that Japanese women especially know how to "conceal, don't feel" (yes, Frozen reference here) and that I stood out like a sore thumb when I would discipline Bruce. Haha! But seriously, there are far too many times I go out in America where I'm greeted with annoyance or given attitude because the staff is bored, wanting to go home, or just openly hate their job. It was nice to go out anywhere in Japan and be treated like they wanted you there.