Magic at Meguro Gajoen

Today B told us that he had a surprise, and we headed into Meguro. We went to Meguro Gajoen, a really beautiful building that I’ve never been to before. Inside was the most amazing exhibit. It will be seriously difficult to describe, and anyone who lives in Tokyo should make every possible effort to go before the exhibit closes on Aug. 8. Like, move mountains to go. As I was looking at the pictures tonight I realized that it felt like a real life incarnation of Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus- full of wonder and oddity and magic. Tiny literally sobbed when it was time for us to leave. We’re going back again next week. (My camera ran out of batteries part way through and so I will post again with pictures of everything I missed this time.)

Meguro Gajoen was originally built in 1931 and functioned as a gorgeously decorated wedding complex. Only part of it still remains in its original form, and this area contains the exhibit. 100 stairs go up, and there are intricately decorated tatami floored rooms off the landings.

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The first room contained a collection of Japanese creations. Lanterns,

 

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hair accessories,DSC04125

wood cut prints, DSC04128

glassware. Beautiful, but normal enough.DSC04130

In the next room was a 3 dimensional display.DSC04141

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Details on the walls of the room.DSC04149

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The next room was stunning in its simplicity. We all wanted to stay there for a long time. It was full of wind chimes.

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There was a fan blowing so that the windchimes tinkled softly. One wall was filled with a diorama of bamboo (my picture came out blurry) and another had these cut, lighted bamboo stalks.

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The next room was my favorite, and it was at this point that things stepped up in the awesome, weird department. The room was full of these strange containers (see the third picture down) with incredible dolls inside.DSC04173

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DSC04193There were glass balls around the room in different configurations so that things reflected oddly- it was unreal.

The next room was full of gorgeously lighted leaves. I wish I could have gotten more pictures, but my camera was losing it at this point. I will take more next week.

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Then there was the washi paper lantern room. All of these are made of washi paper.DSC04208

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DSC04209The last room was full of lanterns.

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I seriously cannot describe how wonderful it all was. Each room was like a present, a lovely magic surprise. Tiny declared it her absolute favorite place we have been in Japan, and I very well might agree with her.

 

 

Trick Photography Museum

The Trick photography Museum is set up with a bunch of optical illusions that you can pose in for pictures. The paintings on the wall have the illusion of depth, so if you pose correctly, it looks like you’re part of the scene. The girls caught on to it more as we went on, but it was pretty fun.

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The bench she is “sitting” on is painted onto the wall. DSC03399

Not a real door.DSC03404

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The mirror in this room is messed up.DSC03433

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Making a mess of a painting. DSC03478

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DSC03503I think we’ll go back with Bruce, I have the feeling he’ll be able to figure out better angles than I could. But we had a great time!

 

Madame Tussad’s Wax Museum, Tokyo

We went out to Legoland earlier this week, and they had a deal running with Madame Tussad’s which is right next door. For 500 yen more ($5) you got admission into Tussad’s, and kids paid nothing additional. None of us has been to a wax museum, and I wasn’t sure if the girls would dig it, but I figured, why not. I am SO glad we went. The girls had a blast. You could take pictures with any of the figures, and they had costumes and props you could use as well.

Johnny Depp. The girls had no idea who he was until I told them he was Willy Wonka.

DSC03289Zoe the Queen is skeptical.

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Tiny the Queen might order someone’s head off.DSC03296

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They tried to match the feeling of the figure, hence their calmness with the Dalai Lama.DSC03310

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Sit ups with a David Beckham figure that looked nothing like him.DSC03316

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All the Single Ladies, indeed.DSC03320

One of the AKB48 girls.DSC03325 And another.DSC03328

Singing backup for Elvis.DSC03332

This one is for their Grandpa- Ryoma Sakamoto.DSC03338

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The girls saw Shakespeare and literally started jumping up and down. They were so excited, you’d have thought the man himself was actually there. He was the biggest possible deal to them, and it made me super happy. They were also really excited about Da Vinci.DSC03347

DSC03350 Z’s best Mona Lisa impression.DSC03353

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Tiny and the lady she was named for.DSC03360

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This is Matsuko Deluxe, a cross dressing columnist who hosts various TV programs. We know him as the “Hot Pepper Beauty Lady”- Hot Pepper Beauty is a free magazine full of beauty product ads, and he has been on the cover. (His cross dressing appears to be a stage persona from my research.) Anyway, Z was overjoyed that he was in the museum.DSC03384
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And I’ll end with a question for you. If you were going to commemorate Brad Pitt’s face in wax, is this the look you’d go with? DSC03388

Hamarikyu Gardens

Bruce found out about these gardens and took us all there the day that my parents left. What a way to end a Japan trip!

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I said no to the offer of an audio guide before I was informed it was an “ubiquitous audio guide”. Now I will forever regret not getting it.DSC03141

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The garden is on the bay, and the water in the lake comes in from the bay.
DSC03182I’ve never seen aquatic life like this in the wild- it was so incredibly cool.

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Zoe with a wish. Or a truffula.DSC03232

This actually happened. Sometimes life in Japan is surreal.DSC03247

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Go firemen, go!DSC03273

Adventures at the Skytree

We took Mom and Dad to the Skytree, but that wasn’t our main goal of the day. First we stopped in at a museum near the Skytree where they had part of a Messiah Valkyrie from from Macross. It was awesome.

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But this is why we were really there. This katana is made of meteorite (just like the sword of one of the characters in Avatar:The Last Airbender, which the girls love). Z was impressed.DSC02296

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Tiny with her namesake. (Her middle name is Katana.)
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There was also a whole section on robots which was fascinating, if hard to photograph because of the light.DSC02311

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Then we went up the Skytree. I love that view.
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My daddy.
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Part of the roof of the elevator is transparent so you can see up as you ascend.
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The view down from the top.
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I love that the field in the middle looks like giant graffiti.

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Making me nervous on the window in the floor.
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This little girl was so cute I had to take a picture.
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So were these two.DSC02409

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And a final thought for you.DSC02421

A wandering Saturday

My sweet cousin visited Tokyo a few weeks ago and we were able to take her around a bit. First we went to a park in Hiroo.

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Obake (ghost) cigarette!
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Then we went into Harajuku to see the lovelies in their finest.DSC02059

And a man walking his monkey. As you do.DSC02060

Tiny liked it.DSC02061

We caught a wedding procession at Meiji Jingu.DSC02066

And an ikebana festival. (Ikebana is the Japanese art of flower arranging.)DSC02075

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And another procession.DSC02104

Everyone in this picture was thrilled to be taking a picture with everyone else.
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Then we went into Yoyogi Park where these people were practicing a play.DSC02128

 

There was a music festival happening across the street, so we stopped over there too. This is Japan’s version of a booth babe. (She had tiny jean shorts on with her kimono crop top.)DSC02133

 

Back in the park, these people were practicing a dance that included high fives.DSC02146

And this fine fellow really wanted someone to take his picture.DSC02148

This guy was creating art by slicing out shapes from the white paper with an exacto knife, while playing techno. It was fantastic.DSC02153

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Fabric Town in Nippori

While my parents were here we made it out to Fabric Town in Nippori. I’ve wanted to go since we got here, but I figured the girls wouldn’t be up for a long trip full of lots of fabric stores, so I’d put it off. But my parents were perfect company and up for the madness. (I was right, the girls would have lost patience really early on.)

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There are 45 different fabric/notion stores on one street, it’s pretty fantastic.DSC01942

This store had the most gorgeous collection of trimmings. I have no use for them- that’s not the type of sewing I do- but it took all my willpower not to walk out with a bag full.DSC01943

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Tomato is the store you want on this street. There are 5 separate locations on the one street, but the one with 5 stories (which actually isn’t the one in this picture- it’s across the street) is the best. It’s full of awesome Japanese cottons. Rumor has it that the first floor sometimes has great finds for 100 yen a meter, but the selection on the day that we went was awful. But the rest of the fabric was amazing. I didn’t take pictures inside because I was too busy picking out my goodies. The prices are pretty good- not deep discounted, but definitely reasonable. You have to buy in meter increments- no half or quarter meters.

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This is my other favorite. It’s called Mihama, and it’s just down the street from Tomato. This store has excellent prices but all of the fabric is precut and bagged. There are bags with 1 meter, 2 meter, or half meter cuts, and not all are available for all fabrics. But they have a great selection and I got a ton of Echino fabric (my FAVORITE) for quite cheap.DSC01952

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DSC01962Do you want to see what I came home with? I need to add the caveat that I’ve never bought this much fabric in one go before, and I never will again (unless we take a trip back to Japan). This was my one shot at Nippori- I had to make the most of it. Please imagine it all not wrinkly.

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