Hi guys! That time of the year has come and gone again. That time when I literally don’t do anything with my blog because I am [a] being lazy, [b] not inspired enough to do anything with it, and [c] being lazy. But I’m thankful I’ve got the time to update now (and I got the inspiration from Rich Kids of Beverly Hills)!
Japan has always been a dream destination for me, ever since I got into anime, J-Drama, and J-POP, way back in my high school and college years. The dream is finally realised 10 years later! My mother sprang the news on me earlier this year. This was after I’ve planned my Mt. Pulag Climb and my Les Miserables show schedule! Thankfully, none of my plans clashed with the travel date for Japan. And so, off we went to the Land of the Rising Sun!
This trip was with a very big group (around 9 families!!) which was alright. The only thing that irks me about traveling in a big group is that there are times when schedules don’t go as planned because someone’s late or someone got lost and everybody else has to wait for them.
The minute I stepped into Japan’s airport (after the hour long queue of the immigration, of course) I immediately saw how organised and disciplined the Japanese people were. The luggages for our flight, which should have still been on that rotating conveyor belt thing because of how long we had to wait in line at immigration, were already off the belt and arranged perfectly for the passengers to easily find their own luggage and then go! My mind was literally blown away by this one image at the airport and I knew Japan was going to be a travel experience unlike any other.
Our bus, with our Singaporean tour guide, was ready to depart as soon as we finished getting our respective luggage (and ordering from Stah-buck-su *ehem* Starbucks). We were then shuttled to our hotel, Swissotel Nankai.
If you guys are ever traveling to Osaka and want to be within walking distance of a well known shopping district then I highly recommend checking in to the Swissotel. It’s in the heart of Namba and it sits above Nankai Railway’s Namba Station!
Our first dinner in Japan was, of course, ramen! Another good thing about the hotel is that it was a 3-5 minute walk away from an Ippudo branch!
People from the Philippines probably know about this famous food chain and have tried their food, but not me. This was my first time!
Nothing like a loud “Irrashaimase!” (delivered and pronounced the right way, mind you) by a more-than-happy staff of a Japanese restaurant to wake us up and get us ready for a hearty meal!
The ramen was prepared right in front of us and it only took 3 minutes, more or less, for them to serve our food, even with the place full of customers! Now that’s service!
We had a long week ahead of us so we decided to retire for the night after our meal.
And to greet us the next morning for breakfast at the hotel’s buffet restaurant was a nearly 360 degree view of downtown Osaka!
It was a quick train ride from our hotel to USJ and before we knew it, we were standing at the entrance…
…and in front of the famous Universal globe!
We did a few rounds of the park before it was our turn to enter the Wizarding World. We got timed tickets and since the Japanese are disciplined and orderly, everyone had a certain time slot when they can enter the world of Wizards. I love Japan. We enjoyed our little walk around the park, though.
After all that yellow, it was finally time to step into the world of magic! First stop, the Hogwarts Express, of course!
I missed the conductor guy who was supposed to be posing with the tourists… Oh, well.
Hogsmeade’s streets were packed with Witches, Wizards, and Muggles! Most of us were lining up to get inside Hogwarts Castle. Imagine, a line so long it went from Hogwarts to Hogsmeade! Ge
While queueing, we took turns holding our place in the line and checking out the various shops on both sides of the street.
We also got time to try out the very sought after Butterbeer!
And from the edge of The Black Lake, you could see the castle, towering over the forests. It was a cloudless day. Probably Professor Flitwick’s charms work, if you ask me.
The castle looked massive as we approached it. There was a two-and-a-half hour line before we got to go in to the castle for the 5-minute ride. I saw the Herbology gardens on the way to the castle, I also saw the entrance to Dumbledore’s office!
We passed the moving staircases (that weren’t moving), we saw the living paintings on the wall (and they were all spelled to speak Japanese), and we were also guided into a dungeon-like locker room where we were to put all our belongings, lest Peeves steals them and chucks them out onto the Forbidden Forest. Oh, and the ride! It was worth the wait! We got to fly around the castle with Japanese Harry and Japanese Ron! We flew around the forbidden forest, evaded Acromantula and Death Eaters and Dementors! Good times, good times.
After blowing a lot of money at Honeyduke’s, we headed out of the Wizarding World. I passed by a very popular car on the way out!
USJ was pretty much just like the Universal Studios I went to in LA… except for one little thing.
MONSTER HUNTER – THE REAL!
They had life-size hunters in all kinds of armor and carrying all kinds of weapons! They even had a life-size Rathalos and Zinogre that MOVED and breathed fire and shot lightning! I was too dazed (and going crazy) with the animatronic Rathalos and Zinogre to even remember taking a proper photo of them with my camera. I did, however, get a few photos with my phone!
As a souvenir, I got myself a Felyne poncho!
It was a long day at USJ but it didn’t stop me from sailing the seas with Naruto and Luffy before heading back to the hotel for a good night’s rest. This was our first day in Osaka! Check out the links below for the rest of my trip!