Japan
Hokkō-unga

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21 travelers at this place

  • Day25

    Universal Studios Osaka

    October 24, 2019 in Japan ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

    Made our way to Universal Studios using the underground. Started raining as soon as we got there and never stopped all day. Good test of the coats, both of which need re-waterproofing 😕.
    It all felt quite familiar as some rides are almost exact copies of their counterparts in Florida, which we visited not too long ago.
    The Japanese seem to take Halloween very seriously, with new themed scare mazes and rides. Half the people there were also in costume.
    We went on all the rides we could. Great day out, but by 6.30 we were ready to go home and dry out.
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  • Day13

    Travel goals

    November 26, 2019 in Japan ⋅ ⛅ 13 °C

    To the early morning stretch class in the sea plex before another delightful brekky in the silver lounge. Asian and western food and lots of choice.
    To the solarium and the spa is open ( after some hassling by me) and we relax in the bubbling warm spa watching the boat sail into Japan.
    New travel goals - to drink champers in infinity spa pools overlooking the ocean!
    Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh
    I think I’ll have to add a caveat- no whining children ( one just walked by) and no people shouting into their phone( one Chinese lady behind my sun lounger ) they have both gone now!
    We dock in Osaka today and everyone has to get off and do a 1-1 immigration check . Expect delays they said!!
    However we were off the ship and in a taxi and before we know it we are in Hogwarts!! Universal studios - quick entry and straight to Harry Potter - a wand at Olivanders and then the forbidden journey ride and a stop for butterbeer before visiting jaws.
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  • Day21

    Hogwarts, Jurassic Park und die Minions

    February 7 in Japan ⋅ ☁️ 6 °C

    Heute ging es in den "Universal Studio Park Japan". Auf Grund eines Irrtums hatte ich das Ticket schon. Ich wollte das nachgebaute Hogwarts gerne sehen, wusste aber nicht, dass es Teil eines Themenparks ist.
    Naja egal. Ticket ist schon bezahlt und war teuer genug. Das wird sich schon lohnen.
    Angekommen erstmal ziemlich verwundert, dass man keinerlei Essen oder Trinken mit in den Park bringen darf und es für 400¥ wegschließen muss.
    Drinnen überwältigt mich so ein bisschen die Datailverliebtheit was den Look angeht.
    Es gibt überall Shops mit merchandise und überall Kopfbedeckungen. Fast jeder trägt auch sowas, entweder als Haarreif oder gleich als ganzer Hut/Mütze.
    Vielleicht gönne ich mit auch sowas mal schauen.
    Essenstechnisch ist es erwartbar schwierig.
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  • Day10

    Hogwarts: A History (Japanese Edition)

    April 17, 2018 in Japan ⋅ ⛅ 14 °C

    If you are in Japan, you should go to Universal Studios Japan just for it's Harry Potter land. In fact, start saving for it now, get a mortgage or rob a bank, it's totally worth it.

    Observations:

    Harry Potter nearly ended up in the Disney theme parks. But when you take an unstoppable force (Disney) and send it at an immovable object (JK Rowling), it's never going to work.

    Disney really like to control their intellectual property, and they have a lot of "rules" they live by when it comes to translating them to the theme parks. One of which is the "weenie" concept - every land has a "weenie" or iconic focal point that is viewable from within that land. e.g. Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, the Matterhorn, the Tower of Terror - all are "weenies" for their respective lands in the park. Each park also has an icon for the whole park - e.g. DisneySea has Mount Prometheus (giant volcano in the middle), but the Disneyland's all have a castle.

    JK Rowling has always retained a lot of control over how her intellectual property is translated - not surprisingly since she put a lot of effort into creating a rediculously detailed universe to set her stories in with a crap load of back stories and "rules" in terms of how that universe works. One of those rules is that Hogwarts is a major character in it's own right - it's not just a school in a castle, it has it's own personality and role to play.

    So the legend goes, Disney wanted to build a Harry Potter world in a Disney Park, JK Rowling insisted that there be a Hogwarts. Disney said they already had an iconic castle and didn't want to detract from it, so she could have a forest instead. JK Rowling apparently killed the deal with Disney and that very same day marched over to Universal to offer up the rights to create Harry Potter in the Universal parks instead. Universal, being a distant second to Disney, said she could have as much veto control over it she liked.

    This was actually a really awesome deal for Universal, and a really smart move by JK Rowling. Turns out JK Rowling is better at creating immersive theme parks than Universal is, so they effectively imported the talent to design a perfect them park concept. JK Rowling got the complete creative freedom to ensure it was done right, and not diluted by the Disney monolith.

    The result is pretty close to perfect - but even better, it really upped the ante for Disney as a demonstration of how a really immersive experience is a really profitable one, and now we're getting Star Wars lands rolled out with immersive hotels, so everyone wins.

    The Japanese Harry Potter experience isn't as large as the one in Hollywood, so it doesn't have the equally awesome Diagon Alley or Hogwarts Express attraction, but it still has a lot going for it (aside from the Japanese spirit of cosplay) that really demonstrate how well the Harry Potter franchise translates to a theme park:

    1. Theming:

    Universal usually opts to cram more rides in rather than get to fixated on sight lines, but they really made an exception for Harry Potter - the sight lines are about 90% spot on. Once you enter the land, you actually feel like like you are in Hogsmeade - you can't see any other rides or buildings from within. There's also an impressive attention to detail and a bunch of easter eggs referencing the Harry Potter universe for the ultra fans.

    2. Hogwarts:

    It's a forced perspective version, but it's large enough and of a really good quality to make it feel like it really is Hogwarts up on the hill in the background. This thing is awesome. You can go inside and do a mini tour of a lot of the real rooms from Hogwarts - albeit in more modest sized versions (the moving stairwells was always going to be impossible - but the portraits they have are pretty darn cool).

    Now that Disney is building a Star Wars Hotel, Universal should totally come back with a Hogwarts Hotel - people would beg borrow and steal to stay in a hotel that felt like staying at Hogwarts and gave direct access to Hogsmeade. They would possibly even sell their soul to a dementor.

    3. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey:

    Probably missed out on a lot of the context since this ride is all dubbed in Japanese, but the ride itself is pretty darn awesome anyway. No description could really do it justice, it's just frackin awesome, even though you are in a flying chair with 3 other people, it does sometimes feel like you are actually riding a broomstick.

    They should totally create a broomstick ride.

    Extra bonus is to go on it with someone who doesn't know what a dementor is - those things are really freaky up close in "life sized" proportions that make them a lot more intimidating than on a screen or in a book. Really awesome/immersive ride.

    4. Flight of the Hippogriff:

    There are only two "rides" in USJ Harry Potter, this is the other one. It's probably the only "meh" part of the place - it's actually just a themed kiddie coaster - short and tame, if they need to demolish it to expand the Harry Potter part of the park then I don't think anyone would mind.

    5. Three Broomsticks:

    It's actually just a standard theme park cafeteria designed to serve mass servings of British-like food, but by Dumbledor's beard it is a really cool place to eat for ambiance alone - go with a group of people dressed up and I think it would be even better.

    Somewhat oddly, although this is pretty popular, it often doesn't open till later in the day and closes early well before the rest of the park does. If they had a Hogwarts hotel with access to the Harry Potter part of the park however, they should totally keep it open for hotel guests - they'd make a killing.

    6. Ollivander's:

    The wand purchase experience is crazy popular even in low times. It's not a bad routine per se, but I can see why people might get frustrated with it in busy periods. Personally I just think it's kinda strange that you can't buy the same wands you get allocated on pottermore. i.e. my "official" wand is a black walnut with a unicorn hair core (super geek alert), but I had to get a plain oak one in Ollivander's because I know Oak is my celtic birth tree (super geek alert).

    7. Wand Magic:

    If you get the wand with sensor in the end you also get a map that shows you were in Hogsmeade you can cast spells. Follow the instructions on the map on how to cast the spell, something appropriate to the spell cast happens where you are pointing.

    It's a pretty cool attraction - really adds to the ambiance. There are also "helpers" stationed to help if you have trouble. Ravenclaws don't need help casting spells though, we always do our homework...

    There is a reason you have to be 11 to be accepted into Hogwarts though, hand eye coordination. Harry Potter is really young adult fiction at least, but a lot of parents seemed to think it was "kids stuff" and gave their four year olds a wand, gave them the expectation they could cast spells.

    No four year old madly waving a stick at a wall is going to cast a spell.

    8. Butterbeer:

    It's like a creaming soda spider, only the froth on the top is *really* frothy/smooth. It's not too bad - but I found it a bit too sweet to drink more than a fancy mug's worth. Fancy mug is cool though.

    9. Street Entertainers:

    Three shows a day from the students of Hogwarts. They are ok - a bit like an episode from Glee at times though. IP rules prevent the use of "real" characters from Harry Potter doing meet and greets (e.g. you can't get Snape's autograph), but they could totally have some made up themed characters roaming around being... wizard-y... There is a train conductor you can take photos with, which is kinda weird when the train doesn't go anywhere.

    10. Hogsmeade (everything else):

    I know it's just a merchandise strip in a theme park, but gawd it's cool. They've turned the purcahse of merchandise into an attraction in itself. But more importantly (and due to JK Rowling) the merchandise is really good. A lot of it is themed to the world, not to the manufacturer - people buy stuff because it helps them get more immersed.

    You can buy the same lollies and drinks they characters in Harry Potter did, you can buy the same kinds of clothes the students wore. Rather wisely, you *can't* buy owls, cats or pets.

    The toilets are also themed.

    This place looks glorious at night - again, build a hotel, let the guests stay after the rest of the park closes.

    Kaiju Collected:

    Butterbeer, Bertie Botts, Chocolate Frogs, Pumpkin Juice - and a perfect score on casting spells with my temporary wand.
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  • Day11

    Achievement Unlocked: #Ravenclaw4life

    April 18, 2018 in Japan ⋅ 🌙 17 °C

    The wand might choose the wizard, but the wizard chooses the House - the Sorting Hat just tells you what you already know. In my case, that house was always going to be Ravenclaw.

    Observations:

    The Harry Potter worlds at the Universal Studios theme parks are a totally cool immersive experience, but one that is even better if you do what the Japanese do and really participate in the theme.

    The imperative to get in your house colours as soon as possible is even more of an imperative if you are at Universal Studios Japan, and don't speak any Japanese.

    We spent almost our entire time at Universal in our respective house colours, the response from the locals was constant: they really appreciated us getting into the spirit of things like them, it also became a way to communicate - everyone working at Universal knows the Hogwarts lore, they know an appreciate the underlying personality types between the different houses - and they all had their favourites.

    We even had staff members from other parts of the park remembering us on different days purely based on their interactions with us a Ravenclaw and Slytherin.

    One of the really cool things about the Hogwarts houses is the houses are roughly based on four major motivations that inform personality types, and the colours and emblems of each house evoke those anyway. So you don't need to go through the official pottermore Sorting Hat, or even read the books or see the films - simply choosing the house you like is roughly equivalent to the Sorting Hat anyway since it only puts you in the house you choose...

    I'm going to make a sweeping cultural generalisation and suggest that the Japanese "get" the purpose of the Hogwarts houses better than western audiences do. Unlike westerners, the Japanese don't seem to see different houses as simplistic good/bad terms, they see them as all being different sides of everyone. As such, they are much more willing to proudly identify with their house, which results in a much more diverse range. There's no house baggage here for the House Elves to clean up - there really were plenty of out and proud Slytherins and Hufflepuffs in full Hogwarts kit - there were even some Malfoy cosplayers doing the rounds complete with platinum blonde hair.

    I'm not entirely confident you'd get the same experience in the US based Universal parks - but I could be wrong (till we go there...).

    So if you are into Harry Potter, go to Univsersal Studios Japan, go straight to the Harry Potter part of the park and march straight to Dervish and Banges and pick out your house colours and wear them proudly for the duration of your visit - it's so much cooler.

    If you have never read Harry Potter or seen the movies, go straight to the Harry Potter part of the park and march straight to Dervish and Banges and pick out the house colours you fancy most and wear them proudly for the duration of your visit - it's so much cooler.

    Kaiju Collected: Quidditch attire (shirt, hoodie and scarf). Alas, there were no Ravenclaw beanies left :(
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  • Day45

    Konichiwa Harry Potter

    September 25, 2019 in Japan ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C

    Konichiwa! Am Sonntag sind wir in Japan, genauer gesagt Osaka, angekommen und das sogar ohne Zwischenfälle. Extra zu erwähnen ist die Cathay Pacific Airline, denn wir hatten nicht nur extrem leckeres Essen und aussergewöhnlich viel Beinfreiheit, sondern auch Sitze die sich extrem weit nach hinten kippen lassen, so dass wir fast liegen konnten. Als erstes wollten wir natürlich eine neue SIM Karte fürs Handy kaufen, was darin endete, dass wir mit Sack und Pack von einem Anbieter zum nächsten getingelt sind, bis wir endlich das für uns beste Angebot genommen haben. Obwohl wir es bereits am Anfang angekündigt hatten, hatten wir unser Gewicht noch immer nicht reduziert und das hat sich in dem Moment noch viel mehr gerächt. Sobald ich jeweils das Gepäck geschultert habe, ist mein Kopf nur noch mit der Gewichtsverteilung und dem Balance halten beschäftigt und ich kann mich auf gar nichts anderes mehr konzentrieren zB. den Weg finden wird dann für mich zum Ding der Unmöglichkeit.

    Den Japan Railway Pass Voucher hatten wir ja bereits in Colombo gekauft, so mussten wir diesen nur noch am Flughafen-Bahnhof umtauschen lassen. Was hiess, erstmal Schlange stehen und warten und danach versuchen den richtigen Zug in die Stadt zu erwischen. Da wirklich nur einzelne Worte auf Englisch angeschrieben sind und der Rest alles in Japanisch war das gar nicht so einfach, ausserdem wird in Japan nur sehr wenig Englisch gesprochen was es noch viel schwieriger macht sich zu verständigen. Da wir bereits vor unserer Abreise diverse Japan Apps herunter geladen hatten (zB. Metro und Übersetzungsapp) konnten wir uns mit zusätzlicher Hilfe von Händen und Füssen durchfragen und haben so tatsächlich unser Airbnb beim ersten Anlauf gefunden. Was für ein Erfolg!

    Unser erster Eindruck von der Stadt war so ganz anders als wir das erwartet hatten, denn es war extrem ruhig. Wie das geht können wir uns noch immer nicht ganz erklären, speziell da Osaka die dritt grösste Stadt Japans ist, aber wenn man zB. der Hauptstrasse entlang ging war es um vieles leiser als bei uns zu Hause in Sargans zB. vor dem Migros und wir hatten unsere Unterkunft doch sehr zentral gelegen gewählt. Möglicherweise hat es damit zu tun, dass das Velo eines der beliebtesten Verkehrsmittel ist und dass keines der Autos hupt oder mit dem Gaspedal spielt, aber selbst in der U-Bahn ist es Mäuschen still. Gerade nach dem lauten Sri Lanka haben wir die Stille umso mehr genossen und wir konnten sogar ungestört mit offenem Fenster schlafen.
    Über die Toiletten in Japan hatten wir im Vorhinein bereits viel gelesen und ich kann voller Freude bestätigen, dass alle Gerüchte darüber war sind. Es ist so schön, dass egal wo man aufs WC geht, selbst in Metro Stationen, sie sind überall so sauber dass man sich selbst als Frau überall hinsetzten kann. Sobald man sich hinsetzt kommt ein Wasserplätschern oder Vogelgezwitscher aus den Lautsprechern für mehr Privatsphäre und es gibt extra Kinder-Warte-Sitze in welche man Kleinkinder setzen kann, so dass auch Mamas in Ruhe aufs Töpfchen können. Die einzige Schwierigkeit besteht jeweils daraus, herauszufinden, welches der japanischen Schriftzeichen Spülung bedeutet.

    In Osaka waren wir die ganze Zeit nur mit der Metro unterwegs, auch Metro-App sei Dank, und wir waren sehr stolz wenn wir es trotz mehrmaligem umsteigen jedes Mal beim ersten Versuch ans Ziel geschafft hatten. So auch zum Osaka Castle, die Sehenswürdigkeit schlechthin der Stadt. Für uns jedoch am wichtigsten war und ist das Essen und wir wurden bis jetzt nicht enttäuscht, denn egal was wir bis jetzt gegessen haben, es war der Hammer. Udon Nudeln, Tempura Chicken, selbst die Ramen im Bahnhof Restaurant waren wie von einem Gourmet Restaurant.

    Die Reise durch Japan haben wir nicht nur in Osaka gestartet weil es der am günstigsten anzufliegende Flughafen ist, sondern auch weil von da aus die Universal Studios am nächsten sind. Für mich war es schon lange ein Traum diese zu besuchen, da es dort jeweils auch ein „Wizarding World of Harry Potter“ gibt und so hatten wir uns für den Dienstag Tickets gekauft. Schon vor dem Eingang sahen wir sehr viele die sich als ihren Liebling TV Charakter verkleidet hatten und es waren selbstverständlich auch sehr viele Hogwarts Studenten anwesend. Als die Tore geöffnet wurden und wir uns Richtung Harry Potter World machten fing mein Herz immer schneller an zu schlagen. Als ich die ersten Häuser der Winkelgasse sah fühlte ich mich bereits wie in einem Traum den ich seit meiner Kindheit träume, aber als ich dann Hogwarts sah konnte ich mich kaum mehr einkriegen und ich musste sogar ein Glücks Tränchen wegwischen. Ich kann gar nicht mehr zählen, wie oft ich die Geschichten von Harry bereits gelesen, gesehen oder gehört hatte und nun da zu sein war einfach unglaublich.

    Die Wizarding World war ja nur ein Teil des Parkes und so hatten wir den Rest des Tages für die Minion World, Spider Man, den Jurassic Park und diverse Horror Aktivitäten zur Verfügung. Da Alex noch immer Probleme mit seiner Rippe hat, hat er die Achterbahnen noch ausgelassen und nur ich habe einen Flug mit den Dinosauriern gemacht. Leider gab es ein kleines Kommunikation Problem: Zuerst hiess es Alex muss ca. 10 Min auf mich warten, da habe ich alles inklusive Handy ihm gegeben, dann hiess es aber 18 Minuten. Da dachte ich auch noch, total ok. Eigentlich meinte die Parkdame aber nicht 18(Eighteen) sondern 80 (Eighty), da war es aber schon zu spät und ich stand schon mitten in der Schlange. Alex hatte sich in der Zwischenzeit natürlich mega Sorgen gemacht, da ich statt 10 Minuten über eine Stunde weg war, aber die Bahn war eine der Besten auf welcher ich je war und so hatte es sich wenigstens für mich gelohnt.

    Es war mega, all die Kostüme zu sehen und mit wieviel Liebe zum Detail diese umgesetzt wurden. Auch war es toll zu sehen mit wieviel Elan und Motivation die Mitarbeiter des Parkes bei der Arbeit waren. Wir hatten keinen einzigen Mitarbeiter/in gesehen, der/die nicht gelächelt hatte, freundlich und fleissig war. ZB. bei den Horror Aktivitäten, wo man in einem Team gegen Zombies kämpfen musste, haben sie einem mit so viel Freude integriert und dies obwohl sie kein Englisch konnten. Super lustig war auch, dass bei den Horror Durchgängen die Japanerinnen so viel Angst hatten, dass sie sich jeweils an mich geklammert hatten oder während des ganzen Durchgangs meine Hand nicht mehr losgelassen hatten. Allgemein war es sehr spannend zu sehen, wie schnell alle bei allem mitgemacht haben. zB. bei der Parade wurde Musik gespielt und ein Tanz vorgezeigt, dann haben alle, wirklich alle, jubeln mitgemacht und es war eine mega Stimmung.
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  • Day17

    Universal Studios Osaka

    July 18, 2017 in Japan ⋅ ⛅ 28 °C

    For our last day in Osaka I had the wish to go to the pretty big entertainment park "Universal studios" which was mainly themed by a couple of movies from the publisher.

    Corinna was on it pretty soon, ready about the Harry Potter world inside and so we went out from early till late at the day before we got to catch a ferry closeby at the Port bringing us over to a neighbor island of Japan.Read more

  • Day7

    June 29th

    June 29, 2019 in Japan ⋅ ⛅ 27 °C

    Universal studios Japan, it was my first time in a Universal park, Mami and I walked around the park all day, she was so kind and tried to go wherever I wanted to go, we ate Japanesse food. At night, we left the park. Great experience at Universal studios.

You might also know this place by the following names:

Hokkō-unga, Hokko-unga

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