I only just got back to my dorm, at 00:20 the next day, so I’ve missed my deadline, but I’ll fill you in on my day.
It was awesome, by the way.
I woke up early, around six, to make a bento lunch (which went kind of wrong but it was only my first try). Consisted of onigiri, salmon, sweetcorn and kabocha. My flatmate (H-san) passed by as I was trying to arrange it in the box, and said nothing. I could tell she disapproved. I’m not sure she likes me very much. She never smiles at me, never talks to me, in fact I’ve never seen her smile now I think about it.
I had to put contacts in as I was adamant not to let my glasses fall off on any rides. They would remain attached to my eyeballs for the next 16 hours. Not that healthy.
On the way to the monorail I passed a newly-renovated building which they’d turned into a Post Office – convenient or what?! It opens next week apparently.
I met Rika at the station (she was a little late, due to feeling ill when she woke up this morning), and we changed trains three times in order to get to USJ. But when we got there, there wasn’t even a wisp of a cloud in the flawless, crystal-blue sky. The palm trees swayed majestically in the slight breeze. The USJ arch stood proudly before us. I could feel it; I was in Hollywood. That’s how it felt. (Shh, I know Universal Studios is in Florida, but whatever.)
I was wary because of how bloody crowded it was. Japan has about the same land mass of England, but twice the population. A lot of people live in really condensed areas. You don’t really notice this until you’re on a train in rush hour, or alternatively in a massive theme park that covers 108 acres yet still has a human squeezed into every square inch. Thinking about strategically coming back in bad weather, like my family did when we went to Disneyland Paris when I was twelve.
It was so bright I ended up buying a pair of sunglasses before entering the park. They were large, roundish, not completely black. I felt a little like a movie star wearing them, so it was a good buy.
Upon entering the park I paid for a year pass, which turned out to be worth it after one day. It’s about ¥19800 for a year pass, and ¥6700 for a day ticket, and we entered three times that day. (As we exited the park twice to get food.)
First of all, we went to go book a time for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. We’d arrived early-ish, but we couldn’t reserve a space until 20:10. The park closes at 22:00 as well. But this meant we’d be able to see Hogwarts at night, when it’s truly spectacular.
Until then, we went in the first long queue, for Space Fantasy The Ride, because I confessed to Rika I’d never been on Space Mountain in Disneyland, and she said Space Fantasy was similar. (I wasn’t sure about this but I went with it.)
We were in the queue for two hours. Ugh. Luckily we listened to music on her iPhone and I showed her all these dance tracks to keep us genki and the time flew by. Animals by Martin Garrix is now her jam.
When we got on the ride, it was quite magical, albeit a little childish. But it did a very good simulation of being in space – at least until one part broke down in the middle, which was weird, but we got back on track eventually.
The ride was very short. I wasn’t sure it had been worth the massive massive line, in which we waited the same amount of time I did to get into Manchester MCM Expo 2013. Not sure that was really worth it either. Well I met the voice of Vaas Montenegro and saw Warwick Davies wandering around, so I guess it kinda was.
For a while we didn’t do anything; we watched some entertainer guys do some singing and dancing. They were all American, and clearly didn’t speak much Japanese. When they did speak it, I unintentionally snorted because their American accented Japanese sounded so cute. Well to be honest I doubt my Japanese accent is any better than their’s. But they were good entertainers. They sang Mirrors (Justin Timberlake), City Can’t Hold Us (Macklemore), Blurred Lines (Robin Thicke), Best Song Ever (One Direction) as so on in one big medley. Japanese girls love One Direction more than me. I was singing along to the “oh oh oh” bits enthusiastically until it got to the chorus and I realised it was One Direction. I probably should have had the same reaction to Robin Thicke, but the song is annoyingly catchy and Pharrell Williams swags up every music collab he appears in, so… *shrugs shoulders*.
We went to go get McDonald’s for lunch. My first time eating in a Japanese McDonald’s since coming to Osaka. I didn’t go for anything special, just a Big Mac meal with a Coke Zero. It tasted the same as a British Big Mac, but apparently it’s different to the American Big Macs.
I learnt Rika is supposedly allergic to beef and pork, which sucks. We discussed how difficult it is to be vegan in Japan, and that Rika’s actually never met a vegan before.
There’s a controversy with people thinking vegetarianism and veganism might be healthier for you, but if Japan has the highest life expectancy in the world and the lowest health risks, and if no-one there’s a vegan, I feel that says a lot. Though I’m aware vegetarianism/veganism are often more for moral reasons. Selfishly, I’ve often thought of becoming vegetarian because I feel like the meat is making me unhealthy. I don’t have a good enough balance of meat, vegetables, carbs, etc. But I couldn’t because I love fried chicken too much.
I had chicken tacos for dinner later on, but I’m getting ahead of myself here.
After lunch, we wandered around the shops to kill a bit of time as all the other rides had huge waiting lines. I ended up doing awful voices for Hedwig, Fawkes, Scabbers and Buckbeak when we found the Harry Potter toys, and also the Pink Panther when I found that. I say awful, but Rika was in tears laughing, so I guess I succeeded there.
We had dinner at TGI Friday’s. I ordered chicken tacos (as mentioned above), also a Mojito because I figured why not, I’ve not yet had any alcohol in Japan. It was really strong, by the way. Stronger than the ones I usually have, anyway. Rika had “fish and chips”, though it was more like five tempura rolls and french fries. The tartar sauce was accurate, though.
After some more waiting, we toddled along to see the Harry Potter bit. On the way, there was a staged biohazard accident, with S.W.A.T. investigating, fake explosions, and zombies running around wild. It was pretty fun to watch, especially when the zombies ran after people and growled at them, causing them to scream. They even imitating falling on a prey and ripping out their intestines. Impressive. (Turns out that it wasn’t pretend. There actually was a zombie apocalypse and they had to close the park. I saved the day by whipping out my katana and slicing all the zombies’ heads off. I was awarded a medal for bravery and the key to the city. People cheered my name, and I had a national holiday named after me, “Bethan the Benevolent, the Brave, the Beautiful.” Just another average day.)
Anyway, we finally got to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (passing the rocks where Hermione punched Malfoy in The Prisoner of Azkaban) and it was truly magical. We walked through the Forbidden Forest, posing with the blue Ford Anglia, admired the Hogwarts Express, stared in awe at the snow-covered Hogsmeade, and then finally gaped at the majesty of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
There was a ride called “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.” Waiting time was apparently 140 minutes, and we only had 120 before we had to go get the last train, but Rika and I took the plunge and got in the line. We only waited an hour in the end, and it zipped by because we were constantly on the move. Upon entering Hogwarts we spotted secret corridors with Dumbledore’s office, the Room of Requirement, the Mirror of Erised, that creepy blue statue, Lupin’s office, the moving pictures, newspaper clippings… it was all so magical and authentic. I felt a renewed love of Harry Potter that I hadn’t felt since the movie series came to an end in 2012. I want to watch all the films again. I would read the books but I don’t have any of them with me, and books here are bloody expensive.
The ride was… magical, I really haven’t any other words. 4D experience for one, a rollercoaster, yet… not. We followed Harry on broomstick around the Hogwarts grounds, avoiding the Hungarian Horntail, passing the Basilisk skeleton, the Quidditch grounds, fucking Dementors (that shit was scary) and finally using the fireplace to arrive safely back where we belonged. It was a fantastic ride. I feel like I could ride it a hundred times and not get bored. There’s a screen in front of you for part of it, for bits when you’re following Harry and Ron on broomstick, but it curved all the way around you so you couldn’t see the edges of the screen (I wasn’t looking for them either) so your entire vision was taken up by this simulation, so you really believed you were flying around Hogwarts. It was utterly amazing; a dream come true. Next best thing, seeing as I didn’t receive my much-expected Hogwarts acceptance letter in the post when I was 11.
The gift shop was full of amazing things, including an exhibit of the Marauder’s Map, with little footprints walking up and down all over it. I saw a t-shirt with a phoenix on that I really wanted, but it was so expensive – ¥3400, for a t-shirt. Ehhh… maybe if I save some money. But it’s only a t-shirt. Maybe a scarf… speaking of…
I figured out finally which Hogwarts house I should probably be in. I never really gave it much thought, thinking I’d probably end up a Hufflepuff as they’re ripped on for being the ‘leftovers’, but because I’m ambitious and a tad calculating, also I love snakes, then it’s probably Slytherin.
After that was a lot of photo-time, including pictures of me and Rika in front of Hogwarts, and so on. I didn’t have time for a Butterbeer in The Three Broomsticks, but there’s always next time.
We rushed back to the station and it was packed. So full we couldn’t move. Thank God we managed to get the last train. We changed trains 4 times on the way back in order to not miss the last train to campus. (I dropped all my change at some point when I bought a drink from a vending machine. This is an omen. A kind lady helped me pick it all up though. Dropping your money is always embarrassing. Particularly if it’s all in ¥1 coins.
And, I arrived home, and started typing this up immediately. I tried to be as quick as I could and it still took me 55 minutes to write. I’m aware I probably skipped over a load of details but I had immense fun overall, can’t wait to go again, and I’m thoroughly tired now my contacts are out.
A very good night to you. *bows*