We’vemainly been kicking it close to home the past few days as to not push Ellie’s boundaries (or our’s) too much with all the new surroundings.  New house, new room, new crib, new food, new people, a whole lot more Japanese language, etc.  It’s actually been really nice taking things a little slower this trip and spending a lot more time at Aya’s folk’s house during the day.  But after a few days, we were all ready to go out for our first major outing.  Our destination was going to be the Ghibli Museum about an hour away.

The Ghibli Museum?  What’s that you are probably wondering.  Well Ghibli Studios is pretty much the Japanese equivalent to Disney.  The animator Hayao Miyazaki releases all of his movies under the Ghibli name.  A lot of them have started to be released in the US by Pixar, like Spirited Away, and recently, Ponyo.  Aya is a long time fan of these movies since she grew up watching them.  So even though this would be a kid inspired outing for Ellie, it was really for Aya.

One of Aya’s favorite Hayao Miyazaki movies is My Neighbor Totoro.  It’s about a mystical creature named Totoro, whom only children can see, and the adventure two sisters experience with him.  Oh, and there’s a giant cat bus too.  It’s really cute and has great characters.  I’ve become a big fan of these movies as well although I don’t have the childhood nostalgia that goes with them.

When going out on a longer outing back home, there are a few things we can always count on.  If it’s a longer car ride, Ellie will most likely fall asleep in her car seat.  And if she doesn’t, she will fall asleep in her stroller when we get to our destination.  Either way, when she gets her ‘crazy face’on, we know she’ll be able to fall asleep somewhere to take the edge off.  Well, with Ellie sitting on the seats on the train, and having to switch trains two or three times, she didn’t fall asleep.  And when we got to the museum, you weren’t allowed to bring strollers in.  DUM DUM DUMMMMM!  Uh Oh!

This museum has timed viewings to prevent overcrowding, and the entry time we had was noon.  Just about Ellie’s nap time.  And we weren’t allowed to bring in strollers.  This is going to be interesting.

When we entered the museum it was crazy crowded.  If this is what’s it’s like with timed viewings on a weekday, then I’d hate to see it on a weekend!  With the overwhelming number of people and how crowded it was, it was hard to see any of the displays.  Aya’s folks offered to watch Ellie so we could walk around, but by then Ellie was too fussy and only wanted us.  So while Aya looked around, I occupied Ellie. Or should I say, I chased Ellie around.  She’d go from slap happy to angry and pouty and back within just minutes.

Aya and her mom were able to finagle their way through the gift shop and got Ellie her own Totoro and Cat Bus stuffed animal.  Well…I think it’s for Ellie and not Aya.  It’s debatable.  After that, there was one thing left to do before we left.  Our admission gave us a ticket to see a 15 minute movie only available at the museum.  A Gibli Studios exclusive!  But we could tell Ellie wasn’t going to be able to handle herself, so I made the choice to grab the stroller and head for the exit so Aya and her folks could watch the movie.  This ended up being a very good idea because as soon as we got outside, the nap-less over stimulation caught up with Ellie!  “WAAA… AAAAHHHH!”

With my typical coping tools back at hand, I felt more in control of the situation again.  Ellie eventually drifted off in her stroller and when Aya and her folks met up with me, I got my reward for skipping the movie.  TEA TIME!

The Japanese observe tea time.  Or as they call it, oyatsu.  The 3pm snack and coffee, or tea.  Almost every restaurant offers tea time specials with the best desserts!  It’s like a pre-dinner dessert.  What’s not to like!?  I like tea time so much, that after one of our previous trips, I tried to instill the tea time break back at the office with a few of my coworkers.  I think it only lasted for a day or two.  What a shame.

Anyway, we stopped at this small quaint little place and had our small piece of cake and cup of coffee.  Being in Japan with a toddler has been much more different than all of our previous trips.  This was a perfect example of how things just aren’tthe same anymore.  While I felt like I missed the majority of the museum while chasing Ellie around, Aya got to see most of it and be with her folks, and now I got my cake, and got to eat it too.  Everything worked out in the end.

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