In my previous post I began to describe the journey to the Kansai region that I took for five days in February. This post will be a short and sweet entry about my third day, Febraury 23rd, to Universal Studios in Japan, located on the edge of Osaka. I went to USJ with two of my Canadian friends, Japanese friends from Osaka and Kyoto, one friend who came for the day from Tokyo, and two friends from Canada. My Canadian friends were my friend Tyler, at the time on exchange in Japan also, and her boyfriend Colin who was visiting her for spring vacation. Going to USJ was kind of a reunion of sorts with a large group of us that had hung out a lot in Canada! I’m glad that we could all go together to USJ and have fun together. The ticket costs around 7,000 yen (~$70CAD) so it was kind of expensive but there was a lot to see and do at the park! You can buy your tickets in advance at Lawson on their Loppi machine or you can buy them at the park – buying in advance is way better. It was also really easy to get there from my hostel and was overall just a really exciting place to visit. We went bright and early and after finding Tyler and Colin who got lost on the way, our adventure for the day started!
Unfortunately when we went some of the rides were closed because they were being redesigned and updated but that doesn’t mean that all of us didn’t have fun! The first thing we did was ride a roller coaster. Actually, one of our friends didn’t really want to ride but we told him that he had no choice because if he didn’t ride our numbers for the ride would be wrong. The roller coaster was actually amazing because in the seat it actually played a song of your choice surround sound which was really great. The best part was listening to my friend screaming “OMG!” at the top of his lungs for most of the ride. In the end he even thought that it was fun! After we did that ride and before the rest, we got our time tickets to enter Harry Potter. They have timed entry tickets to control the amount of people that go inside which is really important because it is definitely the most popular part of USJ! Then we went on simulation ride for Back to the Future! while we waited for our last friend to arrive at the park. Simulation is really interesting because you feel like you are moving around and through a course but in the case of this ride, we were actually just sitting still and getting smoke sprayed at us!
Once Natsumi arrived we went for lunch in kind of a kid’s part of the park. It was actually kind of tricky finding a place that had room for all of us because everything was honestly so crowded! The food is kind of expensive (cause it’s an amusement park) but it was also really tasty! We were even able to get cute stickers from the restaurant because Natsumi’s friend worked there. After we ate together we went on a children’s ride and then it was time for HARRY POTTER aka the best reason to even go to USJ. Warning that it is actually painfully crowded inside Harry Potter and it actually takes a three hour line up to get into the main attraction in the castle! A nightmare but totally worth it.
Inside Harry Potter there were a lot of places to eat, a gift shop, two rides, and also an Ollivander’s where you could buy wands. All of the Hogwarts clothes and everything were insanely expensive but you could actually see a lot of people walking around wearing them! There was also a stand where you could get butter beer in either hot or cold form. The two ride options were a tiny rollercoaster that had Hagrid’s hut and then the castle ride. Because the ride line for the castle was SO long, those of us that wanted to go on the roller coaster as well went to wait in that line while Eiki and Misaki waited in line for the simulation in the castle. The roller coaster wasn’t actually that good and then we had to go find Misaki alone in the extremely long line for the castle because Eiki couldn’t remember what part of the line she had been in when he left to go to the bathroom. We talked to the staff at the beginning of the line and she suggested we go through the faster pass line to find her but we ended up having to cut a lot through the line. Tyler and I ended up in the front and later one of our friends told us how some people at been swearing about the “stupid foreigners”. Awkward but to be fair we butted in front of like a hundred people who had been also waiting hours! And besides, how were they supposed to know that we actually had someone holding our spot in the line? I’m glad that I eventually made a Japanese friend push through the line though because I don’t like to bother people! The ride was actually the most incredible thing ever so I guess it was worth it. You are seated in groups of four in a roller coaster type seat and you go through a simulation where there are dementors and lots of crazy things flying at you! The seat also flips and surprises you! It was so amazing but I felt a bit sick afterwards.
The other ride that left a strong impression on me was the Spiderman simulation ride. There is actual water and fire in the ride so you can feel water drops on you and feel the heat from the fire! Also, it is just a car going on a straight track (I think) but the simulation is SO good that you actually feel like you are flying off of buildings and stuff! There is a part where you are going to the ground where I actually started screaming because I thought I was falling. Colin laughed at me a lot for it. Definitely Spiderman and Harry Potter were much better simulations than Back to the Future.
After we went to the gift shop we returned to Osaka Station to go for Okonoiyaki with other friends that couldn’t make it to USJ because they had other plans and responsibilities. Honoka, Yuna, and Rasuta joined us. Rasuta was pretty late but he showed up in a suit looking kind of cool so it was alright! The table I was at (me, Rasuta, and Misaki) ate an avocado okonomiyaki and another one that was also not really like the traditional one. I completely forget the flavour though and I have no pictures. For those at home, okonomiyaki is traditionally (?) a kind of savoury pancake thing that is made with cabbage and some other stuff. It depends on region what exactly is in it but okonomiyaki is another one of the foods that is known and popular in Osaka area. When we finished that, Tyler and I convinced Rasuta to go on the giant ferris wheel that was ON the building that the restaurant was it. It wasn’t expensive and we could see a beautiful night view of Osaka but none of my pictures really turned out – curse cellphones. We even conned him into doing purikura with us but I’ll spare him the shame of sharing that with the internet!
Last installment of my trip coming tomorrow! (Please)