From Seattle To Tokyo | Ghibli Museum & Harajuku


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Because we loved Ichiran so much the day before we decided to go back again bright and early before starting our 3rd day in Tokyo. It was a Sunday morning at 4am and you really can’t go wrong with Ichiran any time of day. We. were. and. still. are. obsessed.

When we arrived at the crack of dawn there was already a long line forming starting from inside the seating area all the way out to the front of the sliding door entrance. We got a spot standing just outside the front door and just a few minutes later it started to wrap all the way up the stairs on the streets of Shibuya.

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Ichiran employee inside the area where they take orders and serve customers warm bowls of ramen

Patrons of the ramen establishment that morning were all younger people who were of drinking age. I’m pretty sure they all went out Saturday night and some were getting ramen that morning to cure some hangovers. The people behind us in line were still drunk haha. I wish there was an Ichiran in Seattle to cure hangovers or the late night munchies! One can dream….

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Hubby enjoying is “extra rich” bowl of ramen

After a bomb.com ramen breakfast {again} at Ichiran (which you know I will be raving about again & again & again….) we made our way to Shibuya station to catch the train to Mitaka. I had purchased tickets for the Ghibli museum as soon as they were available in Seattle from JTB USA and we had reserved a day & time for our visit.

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Ghibli museum sign

Prior to our Japan trip the #1 thing I had on my list to do was to visit the Ghibli Museum. I was so excited and probably driving Anthony crazy because every time I thought about it  or even mentioned it I would squirm from excitement. I grew up watching Hayao Miyazaki films so to see this museum dedicated to his works was unreal.

From Shibuya station we took a train to Shinjuku where we transferred to the Chuo line and got off at Mitaka station. From Mitaka we walked about 15 min through residential areas to the museum. It was a quiet & pleasant walk from the station and as we continued walking, we spotted decorated signs with famous Hayao Miyazaki characters (i.e. totoro). The excitement was continuing to build up….

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Gate sign outside of the Ghibli museum

When we crossed the street and turned the corner I knew we had arrived because upon entering we were greeted by a little Totoro themed GATE. I took a billion pictures in front of the gate and because our reservation was for 10am and we had arrived half an hour early, we decided to go and meet Totoro!! He was sitting to the West of the building building behind a glass window. We got there before everyone else caught onto our idea so I had him all to myself for a gazillion more pictures before people started to line up and take turns for pics.

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TOTORO looking all cute

It had started to rain on our trek to the museum and although I am a Seattleite I would typically complain about the droplets. On this day I didn’t even care and took photos posing with my umbrella, with no umbrella, with umbrella and hand on the side of the hip, and yeah..I took a ton of photos haha.

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Exterior of the Ghibli museum

Once you line up to get inside the actual museum, attendants as well as many signs tell you NO photography or video. Because it was obviously not reiterated to me enough, I started taking photos with my iPhone inside the Ghibli museum…..Oops hehe. They sweet attendant manning the entrance kindly told me no photos and I put away my iPhone & go pro inside Anthony’s bag.

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Ichiran employee inside the area where they take orders and serve customers warm bowls of ramen

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Ichiran employee inside the area where they take orders and serve customers warm bowls of ramen

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Ichiran employee inside the area where they take orders and serve customers warm bowls of ramen

The actual museum is extremely small but the quality of the exhibits is excellent. I don’t want to give away too many details and surprises but when you walk in the place is designed like a house with different corridors and rooms. You get to see all of Hayao Miyazaki’s works on the top floor with references to every movie he’s ever done. Upstairs you get to walk through what would be his work desk with artwork, books where he did research on different types of trees/plants/flowers illustrated in his movies and all the inspiration behind his works.

Next to his office and I think inside there is an old movie projector using film and when you look inside you get to see a couple of his famous works! I won’t spoil it and say which one though. 🙂

Following signs to go outside, there is a giant Laputa robot from Castle in the Sky. Here guests are allowed to take photos freely so you know I did! If you take a photo with the robot, don’t forget to turn around right under his feet and look on the ground because hidden is a tiny crab made of metal.

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After exploring the museum for about an hour and a half we made our way to the Ghibli Museum Cafe where I wanted a nice cup of something hot & a dessert which I believe are all themed! When we got there, the line had already wrapped around the outside foyer and the cafe hadn’t even opened yet! Such a bummer. We didn’t want to wait in line for hours so we decided to walk back to Mitaka station.

The plan was to visit the museum for a FEW hours, have a snack or lunch at the cafe and then find another area to explore. Since we only spent a couple hours at the museum, we decided we’d make our way to Harajuku to have lunch and do some shopping.

Feeling hungry since we hadn’t had anything to eat since 4am we decided to try a pasta restaurant called Italian Tomato Cafe Jr. that was poppin with tons of local diners. Luckily for us when we got inside a couple was getting ready to leave which freed up a nice corner table for us to have lunch! We ordered at the counter and then sat down.

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Ichiran employee inside the area where they take orders and serve customers warm bowls of ramen

I got the bolognese with Japanese black beef & pork & Anthony got spaghetti with german steppan cheese in a tomato cream sauce. For our beverage we shared an iced matcha green tea latte. Everything was SO good and we couldn’t believe how cheap our pasta was! Each of our pastas were about 650yen which comes out to ~5.50USD. Unbelievable! Similar dishes in Seattle would easily cost minimum $15.

Feeling energized we left and continued to walk down “Harajuku Champs-Elysées” eyeing all the designer shops along this street. It actually did remind me a lot of the actual Champs-Elysées in Paris without the Arc de Triomphe at the end of the street. Because we have designer stores at home I didn’t care too much about stopping by or window shopping at any of the fashion houses. I was more interested in local boutiques and independent stores. Walking around and around looking for what was Takeshita dori (but we didn’t do our research and know that was the name of the famous street in Harajuku) we got lost for at least an hour and a half. Maybe even longer….

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Couple rings we bought in Harajuku

Feeling tired (food coma maybe?) and not wanting to look anymore we gave up and walked back towards where we came from while “taking shortcuts”. We somehow ended up along Takeshita dori so it actually worked out! Already exhausted from all the walking and by now there were crazy hordes of people shopping & snacking along Takeshita we lost patience. We agreed that maybe we will just return another day during our time in Tokyo when it’s less crowded.

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Ichiran employee inside the area where they take orders and serve customers warm bowls of ramen

It was around 3:30ish when we left Harajuku and by the time we were back in Shibuya it was already a little past 4pm. Still tired and probably jet-lagged we decided to go back to the airbnb to rest our feet and take a nap. SIDE NOTE: taking a nap is never a good idea when overseas! haha It leads to what happens next….

Our “nap” turned into a real good rest because we got up about 6 or 7 hours later…. We woke up hungry and decided to just relax the rest of the hours left in the day rather than go out. We walked to the nearest convenience storeS which was a Family Mart and a 7-11 to try out the food they had available. Being the fatties that we are, we took the food back to our room to chow down and then went back to bed. 😛 Twas a fun, fun day!

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6 thoughts on “From Seattle To Tokyo | Ghibli Museum & Harajuku

    • Lilly says:

      You’re welcome!! Just be sure to buy tickets in advance cause u can’t get them at the museum. If u can’t visit a JTB office I read you can get them at any Lawson’s convenience store 🙂 have a great time!!

  1. Melanie says:

    The Ghibli museum is one place I hope to visit the next time I go to Japan! Looks like you (and Ant) had a blast! 🙂

  2. Passenger Mo says:

    Haha, I can’t believe you woke up so early for Ichiran! it is really good though, I can imagine the Shibuya branch to be very busy.
    I envy your ability to take pictures of the stained glass windows in the Ghibli Museum. I also went, and was dying to take a picture of the windows, but I couldn’t sneak it past them. The museum is so beautiful! I enjoyed reading your post ^^ Thanks!

    • Lilly says:

      It was worth waking up early for! Plus we were jet lagged so it worked out perfectly :P.
      Ah! I am a total rule follower and completely forgot that no pics were allowed inside the museum! I was so embarrassed when they told me no pics even after walking past all the no photography signs lol.
      Thanks for reading! Glad you liked it 🙂

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