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Posts tagged ghibli

Totoro Totoro

totoro adashino nenbutsuji sagano

Totoro @ Adashino Nenbutsuji

Castle in the Sky (天空の城ラピュタ) @ Ghibli Museum

mitaka kichijoji tokyo japan

There are plenty of reasons to visit Inokashira Park near Kichijoji. The reason that took us out there a week ago was the Ghibli Museum.

I saw my first Miyazaki (宮崎駿) movie way back in 1989. He was virtually unknown outside of Japan at that point, but I was in Japan. In fact, I was living in the setting of his current movie at the time, My Neighbor Totoro (となりのトトロ), on the edge of Tokorozawa in Saitama Prefecture.

Ellie and Ryan also became big fans, as well as most of the rest of the world, so we have been wanting to check out the museum for a while. Tickets aren’t easy to come by if you want to go on a weekend. With Ryan and Ellie in school on weekdays we finally landed some Saturday tickets by purchasing them within a day of their going on sale more than a month in advance.

Shown above is a picture from the top of the museum. This is one of the robots from Laputa: Castle in the Sky (天空の城ラピュタ).

Seibuen Yuenchi (西武園ゆうえんち)

Amusement parks are very popular in Japan, not only with the Japanese locals but also with foreign tourists. I really don’t understand the latter. For instance, why would an American going to Japan want to go to a more crowded, more expensive version of what they can already get at home (while in a country like Japan with so many things that are unique and foreign to normal experiences)?

I’ve never been to Tokyo Disneyland, and I hope it stays that way. I did go to Universal Studios Osaka and regretted it. However, when traveling with kids it can be difficult to avoid the amusement park trap; I mean trip. My suggestion is to avoid the ones everyone knows about and find something a little different.

Flashback to 1989… I was living in Tokorozawa, Japan. Nearly every night during the summer I was treated to a fireworks show from my apartment thanks to a nearby amusement park called Seibuenyuenchi (西武園ゆうえんち). I only went there once and my recollection was that there weren’t many rides. I remember animals there–especially a peacock. Either my memory is bad or things really changed at Seibuen Yuenchi between 1989 and 2007.

While surfing the net before going to Japan in 2007 I told my kids that I once went to an amusement park in Japan that now appears to have a Hello Kitty Marchen Town. They had to see it so we put it on the agenda. Plus, I wanted to check out my old Tokorozawa neighborhood which in my memory looked like scenes from Hayao Miyazaki’s My Neighbor Totoro (となりのトトロ). (Miyazaki lives in Tokorozawa.)

Given that the cost of Seibuen Yuenchi is a small fraction of what you’ll pay at Universal Studios Japan or Tokyo Disneyland I was happy that if we were going to do an amusement park it would be this one.

hello kitty angel coaster

Although most of the park consisted of your typical rides, this section of the park, for younger kids, is what I will share with you in pictures. Here my kids are heading off to the Hello Kitty Angel Coaster.

hello kitty

Hello Kitty and her friends were all over the place in this section of the park. I’m guessing that Sanrio Puroland (サンリオピューロランド) is like this on a much larger and much more expensive and crowded scale.

seibuen yuenchi hello kitty cups

The above ride was like the Mad Tea Party ride at Disneyland except that you get to spin in Hello Kitty and her friends.

The above video is of my kids on the Hello Kitty Angel Coaster. We were the only foreigners in the park that day and it wasn’t very crowded, even though it was a holiday week.

If you want an inexpensive amusement park experience in Japan then Seibuen Yuenchi isn’t bad. Nearby is an indoor skiing facility called Sayama Ski Slope. To get there take the applicable Seibu line from Ikebukuro or Shinjuku. Coupons are sometimes available on the website linked above.