Friday, 21 September 2018

Universal Studios Japan


Yes, am finally writing about my latest trip to Osaka where I got the chance to experience Universal Studios Japan in Osaka. Just for the record, it was my very first time to visit USJ and I had a really, really good time. Who am I kidding, I was extremely happy and it's beyond WORDS! Believe it or not, the feeling is still here as I’m writing this.

I remember that my sister and I arrived in Osaka (via transit in Tokyo) on Sunday afternoon and we were scheduled to visit the Universal Studios Japan on Monday, lunch time.
It was exactly 12PM that we arrived by the main gate and escorted inside to have a two hours of free time as per our request to eat and explore the theme park by ourselves.


By 2PM, we were fetched by USJ team so we can finally enjoy the rides and of course to take pictures at some of their iconic spots. 
First stop was the Minion Park! Even before we entered, we could already hear the theme song “Happy” welcoming us and that was it, the mood was automatically set to happy mode.
Anyway, our first ride was the 4D computer animated simulator ride, Despicable Me Minion Mayhem which is built inside Gru’s House. It was really interesting and what I love about it, is that we don’t need to wear 4D glasses to enjoy the ride and it felt like we were wearing one.



Not forgetting the souvenir shop so I could get some souvenirs for myself, such as the iconic hula dancer minion popcorn, toys and more little stuff to bring back home.



Up next was no doubt, my favorite, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter! Starting from The Weasley's broken flying car to Hogsmeade and finally to Hogwarts. Just like in the Minion Park, here at Harry Potter's, we were also welcomed by their theme song which brought me so much feelings. As a fan of the movie, I couldn't help but to miss their epic series while exploring Harry Potter's Area. 







Butterbeer is a must!


Universal Studios Japan's current favorite Harry Potter and The Forbidden Journey ride is hiding inside Hogwarts Castle. It's a motion-based dark ride, aiming to bring Harry Potter to live on a phenomenal scale and guess what? The ride was surreal and I can see why it is everybody's favorite after the Amazing Adventures of Spiderman ride. Even though the queue was crazy long, it was all worth it.


Thanks to le sissy for accompanying me and being my photographer of the day, you're the best!







As for the highlight of the day, it was definitely the Night Parade! I was so lucky because the weather was extremely accommodating, there was no rain so we all could watch the magical Night Parade unveils before our own eyes. My favorite sequence has got to be the Harry Potter ones! The quality of the Parade was impeccable, the action, the visual, everything was just surreal, I swear. 
Got goosebumps throughout the Parade and I guess I still can't get over it.

Huge thank you to Universal Studios Japan for having us and for the awesome hospitality. Can't wait to plan my next trip to USJ again!

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

KANAGAWA: Hakone, Kamakura and Yokohama

So here I am sharing yet another non mainstream itinerary with you all, and this time, it’s from my last month trip to Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan. I hope you’ll find this useful one day, esp when you’re traveling to Japan and seek for a different experience :)

DAY ONE - HAKONE


Touched down Haneda Airport early in the morning, had my coffee fix and we finally headed straight to Hakone to begin our trip. But first, lunch at cafe KOMON. I had the Roast Beef and Rice with 12 Kinds of Vegetables and Hans had the Hotoriya Special Curry and Rice with Fillet Cutlet. The food was lovely and the view was extra beautiful.



After we finished our meal, we went cruising on Lake Ashi to experience the Hakone Sightseeing Cruise. It's a sightseeing destination for lake cruises on pirate-style ships offering scenic mountain views, forests and of course the striking red gateway to the Hakone Shrine.



Next stop was The Great Boiling Valley, Owakudani. It is a volcanic valley with active sulphur vents and hot springs in Hakone. And while you're here, don't forget to try the famous owakudani black egg. It is believed that if you eat the egg, you can live 7 years longer.




Also not to miss is the Hakone Ropeway, where you can enjoy Hakone's scenic panorama from the top.



When you travel to Japan, remember to spare some time for a tea break because Japanese matcha is definitely the best; and so we had our tea and snack time at Amasake Chaya just before we moved to the next destination: Hakone Shrine.



The Hakone Shrine is a Japanese Shinto shrine on the shores of Lake Ashi in the town of Hakone. It is also known as the Hakone Gongen.




Dinner was a yummy shabu shabu at the hotel that we stayed in: Ichinoyu Honkan, Hakone.


And I ended the day with a 10 minutes onsen! Just because the hotel room has a private onsen inside. I know, how awesome ;)


DAY TWO - KAMAKURA


Checked out from out hotel and we were picked up for a transfer to Kamakura. First stop was the Hokoku-ji Temple. It is an old temple which is famous for its bamboo garden, also known as the Bamboo Temple.




From one temple to another, next one that we visited was Tsurugaoka Hachimangu. It is said to be the most important Shinto shrine in the city of Kamakura. Again, while you're here, don't forget to take pictures in front of the sacrificial barrels of sake wine before going up to the main Shrine.



Lunch was shirasu and kaisen don at Wasai Yakura, Komachi Street. Definitely one of the best meal I've had in Kamakura. Ocean-fresh baby sardines and fish cuts, served with chawanmushi, miso soup and pickled, yum!





After lunch, it was time to experience the Ichijyo Ekan Sanso, a truly charming tea house with beautiful little garden and scenery. It was built by the 9th Prince of Emperor Goyozei 370 ago and it's one of the important Cultural Asset in Japan.
Thank you to our guide, Mr. Kawano, we had a lovely tour and afternoon tea while enjoying the beautiful scenery and relaxing sound of the river.




Right before dinner, we were given some free time to enjoy the local culture at Komachi Street, a place where you can find many souvenir shops, enjoy local food, snacks and also good coffee.



Dinner was at Ristorante Amalfi, an Italian Restaurant with a scenic view of the sea and of course, great food.


Done with dinner and it was time to take a rest at Kamakura Park Hotel before continuing our trip on the next day.


DAY THREE - YOKOHAMA




Third day was Yokohama day. We left Kamakura early in the morning for Yokohama and our first destination of the day was Cupnoodles Museum. It is a fun and interactive museum that shows the history of instant ramen noodles using a combination of whimsical exhibits and hands on workshops. We had such a memorable experience, from learning about the history of ramen, the space ramen to making our own cup noodle, how lovely.




Not forgetting lunch at Pie Holic, a pie buffet restaurant with varieties of pie, from savory to sweet, from vegan to all meat, you choose.



Not far from our lunch place is O R B I, a joint collaboration between BBC Earth and Sega and is one of the most high-tech museum attractions featuring giant, immersive films on nature, animals & landscapes.



Next in the schedule was back to the hotel: Yokohama Park Hotel to freshen up before dinner.



We ended the day and wrapped up our whole 4 days 3 nights Kanagawa trip with Yukata de Marine Rouge experience. Cruising through the Yokohama Sea while wearing traditional Japanese Yukata, having dinner on board Marine Rouge and of course enjoying the night view from the top deck. What a perfect way for a farewell.



Till next time, Japan!