Universal Studios Japan (or USJ) was on today’s itinerary, it’s a short train ride away from where we were staying.
We were expecting a lot from this place and was definitely hoping that it would be better than Disneyland. Entrance was a little more expensive Disneyland though, at 6300 Yen if I recall correctly.
Like the one in the US, there’s the massive universal globe which spins around the front, just outside the entrance. Excellent spot for photos :). Thankfully for us, it was nowhere as packed as Disneyland, hopefully this meant very short queues for rides.
First thing was first, we hit up the only roller coaster that was there, and we did it over and over again. Four times all up, quite funny as the coaster cars themselves have an ability for you to choose your music. We simply had to go through all the options, there were two Japanese pop songs, an RnB one and a rock/pop one. Kinda funny singing along in a rollercoaster.
After our good singing session, we walked around to be greeted by these toy soldier guys.
So we thought it’d be a good idea to try and imitate them, they were quite clever in playing along and then proceeding to lead Tang into walking into a bin.
Not sure why Hello Kitty was here, but there was a little show going on and I don’t know if there’s actually supposed to be two of them or not.
Next ‘ride’ was to be a little horror rock and roll show, kinda sucked not knowing what they were saying as they were speaking Japanese, but thankfully the songs they sang were just your regular pop songs and we could sing along and enjoy ourselves.
Coming out, we were greeted by the beginnings of a street parade as there were people lining the streets. It was just a simple parade with a few floats and the Universal Studios characters coming out dressed in their Christmas gear.
Santa’s helpers seemed to be wearing very short skirts and funnily enough we swore we saw similar outfits for sale at an adult store, unfortunately the helpers themselves seemed a bit older.
As the parade came to end, the floats stopped and there was a quick opportunity for photos closer up. Managed to get a better photo of Snoopy in his Christmas costume.
A nice touch of fake snow was added as the parade stopped, making it feel a bit more wintery and dreamy.
After the parade, we walked to the next attraction, a wicked show, but along the way we were distracted by something, a churro stand! But unlike Disneyland, these churros weren’t plain but coated with various flavours! Chocolate and strawberry seemed the most appeal, I opted for chocolate and even though it didn’t taste as fresh as the regular ones from Disneyland, they were absolutely delicious and sugary.
Contempt with the sweet churros, we made our way along the golden brick road to the stage where the show was.
Upon arrival, we were quite impressed by the details in the set, but we quickly realised something. The whole thing was gonna be in Japanese! We glanced around and saw a screen towards the right and some words would appear, we thought awesome, we’d have subtitles! As the show started our optimism faded as the screen was used to translate the other way or so, there was very little English used except for the songs they sang.
We walked around for a bit when the show was over and there was a cute little section for all things Snoopy and Peanuts. I think Gavin needs help from the doctor.
Next ride: Jaws. Outside the front was a massive shark model and it’s only when you see it like that you realise how big the shark in Jaws was supposed to be.
The ride itself was quite fun with you sitting in a boat and the ‘tour operator’ wields a shotgun to fend of any incoming sharks. While she strictly said no cameras, I quietly sneaked in a shot or two, quite a fun ride with explosions and fire =D.
The afternoon sun provided some nice light so I snapped a picture of the harbour inside the park.
As it was getting darker, we hopped around to get on more rides, the next was the Jurassic Park ride and it was exactly as I remembered it from LA.
I knew the ride was quite wet, but the camera was out (again despite the no camera instructions) and I snapped up this beauty, just before the drop came. Camera got pretty wet, but weather sealing is a great thing to have.
As night fell, in the distance there were spot lights turned on, so I had to get a nice long exposure going, if you look carefully you can see the rollercoaster train making a trail across the whole length of the ride, took a few goes to get it right.
By now it was quite dark and we had a few more rides to go on, the first was a tour around a set (or so) of a movie about fire, think it was called Inferno. Only the last bit is cool as you look onto a factory type room and you see it just burst into flames. After that was the final ride, being a VR ride based on ‘Back to the Future’. The building for the ride itself is very impressive and looks awesome at night.
To top off our day at USJ, there was a beautiful light parade of floats of various characters lit up by hundreds and thousands of little lights, it seems that a lot of the floats are computer controlled as they whiz around. Spectacular detail in some of them and it was just a pleasure to stand there and watch them go by.
We were hoping to get another ride on the rollercoaster, but the end of the parade also basically marked the end of operating hours so unfortunately we couldn’t go on one last time when it was dark.
Before leaving, we did some quick souvenir shopping and they really do love their hello kitty, with a hedge shaped in her head outside one of the stores.
So before heading home, we had to drop by the Takoyaki museum we saw before we headed into Universal Studios, while they call it a museum, it’s just 5 shops that sell nothing but takoyaki. Collectively they make up quite a few varieties of takoyaki, each seem to vary a little in taste or in texture, so have a more liquid centre.
It’s quite amazing to watch the way they pick at the takoyaki to turn it around and make it a round ball, very fast hands.
Leaving the takoyaki museum, we headed back to Dotonbori for a proper meal, this time, it’d be ramen. We went to this little store that Jimmy recommended us and the Ramen here was delicious, it wasn’t overpowering in flavour (i.e. not too fatty and salty).
When we got back at night, Ed and I discovered that there was a Red Light district close-by to where we were staying, apparently it was quite unique as the buildings there were still constructed in the old style as they were never rebuilt. I didn’t take my camera, but there was a distinct contrast between the buildings in these few blocks compared to the rest of the place. Also unfortunate for us was the fact that everything was closed because it was so late.