The summer when I was six, my parents took me to the Tokyo Disneyland for the first time. We took the bullet train to Tokyo the day before, and after being a guest at my great aunt’s place for the night, our real adventure to the Disneyland began.
It was an extremely hot humid summer day. By the time we arrived at the gate of the Disneyland and waited for the Park to open, the sun was already blazing over us mercilessly. That day, I would end up sweating so much that at one point in the afternoon, I would even get a painful heat rash on my butt.
But of course, as a little girl, I was more focused on my adventure than the discomfort of heat. The moment we entered the park, the big Cinderella Castle caught my eye. I declared that I wanted to go in there, and it became our first stop of the day. Despite my initial eagerness, however, as soon as we went inside and I heard the evil witch’s voice roaring from everywhere in the dark room, I got so scared that I climbed up my father’s back, closed my eyes and did not see the rest of the adventure.
After that, my parents wisely avoided going to any attractions that involved a lot of darkness and potentially scary story-telling – they had had enough of my drama. We skipped all the famous speed attractions, too, since my mother was afraid of roller coasters. Even with these restrictions, the Park offered us enough fun things to explore. We enjoyed a ride into a pirates’ secret world, another into a world of children, went to a few souvenir shops in between, and we also rode a raft on a river.
At one point, my mother and I were in Mickey’s Toontown, visiting the houses of Mickey, Minnie, and other Disney characters. We had not yet taken any photograph with the Disney characters, and my mother was eagerly looking for an opportunity. As we moved from one house to another, she looked around to see if any characters were around. She wanted to make sure that I would have at least one photo taken with at least one character while we were in the Park.
Just when we were leaving Mickey’s Toontown, we came across Minnie Mouse on a bridge. She was walking on her own, and as soon as she saw us, she made a gesture that we could take a picture with her. My mother was delighted.
“Sweetie, come quick, she says we can take a photo with her!” my mother ushered me as she reached for her Nikon camera hanging from her neck. “Come!”
But I hesitated. The Minnie Mouse was huge. Even though she looked friendly, I was a little afraid of going so close her.
While I hesitated, other children surrounded Minnie Mouse and their parents took a photograph of them. My mother got irritated.
“Sweetie! What are you doing there?” She was now scolding me. “This is such a good chance! We may not have another chance to take a photo with Minnie. Come!”
The more my mother pushed me, the more intimidated I felt. Minnie Mouse was watching us closely, and as if sensing the tension between me and my mother, she moved a little closer to me and waved at me in the friendliest way possible.
My mother’s attitude softened, seeing that Minnie was not going away, and that was when I finally gathered up my courage to walk closer to Minnie. When I stood next to her, Minnie gently held my hand. She was so kind that I felt safe. Even a smile came out on my face. My mother clicked a photo.
Just before Minnie and I parted, she looked into my eyes again, holding my hand, as if to say everything was okay. I left the place feeling happy and proud of the fact that I had just taken a photo with Minnie Mouse. My mother was also happy that she could finally take a picture of me with a Disney character.
In the evening, we all watched the night parade before leaving the Park. I was sad to leave. After having spent the whole day in this dreamland, I was finally getting used to it and starting to feel part of it. A lot of undreamy things also happened during the visit – my “I want to be out!”-chaos during our visit to the Cinderella Castle, an emergency visit to washroom due to the heat rash on my butt, and a quarrel between me and my mother in front of Minnie Mouse – but somehow, these are the things I remember very fondly in my heart more than two decades from that trip.