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Pure Impurity

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  1. It's been a while. Sorry for the hiatus! Day 14: Tokyo free day no. 2 The past week+ had been fantastic, but it was time to bring it all back home to Tokyo for the final leg of the trip. On the bullet train from Nagoya, I caught another glimpse of Mt. Fuji peaking up above the clouds. When the man next to me saw me trying to get a better look, he just smiled and showed me a photo he'd taken of Fuji unobscured by pesky clouds. It was neat how, even without exchanging any words, we could share that appreciation of such an awesome volcano! But today wasn't just for traveling; there was still a lot of stuff we wanted to do in Tokyo. For most of us, the number one thing on that list was… Tokyo Dome City Did you really think we were gonna miss out on this?? The dome itself is cool and all… …but we had other priorities! [youtu_be] [/youtu_be]Thunder Dolphin has to have one of the best settings of any coaster in the world! We had actually planned on doing this day 1, but it was down that week. Thankfully, it was up and running again today! As others have said, it's not the most exciting ride in the world, but its surroundings more than make up for that. Wow! Japan is so futuristic! Honestly, it's hard to fault the ride for being so middle-of-the-road when it's in such a restrictive location. Still, I feel this is a ride you've got to ride at night to get the best experience. Anyway, after getting our ride in (and stopping at Taco Bell!), a bunch of us decided to move on. (There's actually another coaster there that I wasn't aware of. Hey, there's always next time!) Our next stop was the… Tokyo Skytree In case you haven't noticed, there's a lot of escalators in Japan…. "Yes, we'd like a garden, but we really like Picasso…." And here's the main attraction! It really doesn't look like it in this measly gif, but this thing's over 2000 feet tall! That makes it shorter than only the Burj Khalifa! The Skytree is pricier than Tokyo Tower, especially if you want to go to the upper levels. The lower "node" of the Skytree is about halfway up. The elevator up is crazy fast, and you can feel your ears popping! The views here are pretty crazy, but the the air was a little hazier than one might hope. Hey, that's where we just were! Of course, they've got one of these things. Actually, they've got two: a free one and one where you can pay to get your picture taken without jockeying for room. It's not obvious in this photo, but there's another layer of glass some 6 ft. below the one I'm standing on, so it's a little less nerve-racking than the ones at Tokyo Tower. This was the best thing in the whole tower After about 45 minutes, we felt that we'd gotten our fill of the Skytree. None of us were too keen on forking over the extra cash to go to the upper levels, so we decided to leave. One thing I haven't yet mentioned is how utterly packed it was in there! So I was certainly ready to move on; even though the Skytree's very cool, I don't feel it had quite the charm that Tokyo Tower did. Anyway, after the Skytree, I split off from the rest of group to go to… The Imperial Palace In my time scouting out our itinerary on Google Earth, I couldn't help but notice the huge mass of green right in the heart of Tokyo. I was down for some greenery in the middle of this metropolis, so I moseyed my way on over to the Palace. The complex is nearly 300 acres in total and contains many important buildings, including the one in which the Emperor himself lives. It feels like there should be guards watching over this gate The Palace is now under the watchful eye of The Skink There's a lot of old-looking buildings here I don't know what their functions are exactly, but they look cool! Up a little hill is this big field Oh yeah, there were a LOT of crows here…. This looks like the entrance to some Mayan tomb I was eager to explore more of this place, but unfortunately, the Palace closes early, so I had to go on my way to my next spot, Odaiba On the way, I made a transfer at the famous Tokyo Station! This place is huge, so if you're gonna get even slightly lost at any train station in Japan, it's gonna be this one! A short jaunt over the Rainbow Bridge, and I was on Odaiba! Odaiba's a man-made island with a ton of cool stuff on it! One of the main attractions here is DECKS, which is a shopping mall and much, much more! I've heard this described as the best place in Tokyo to view a sunset, and I might have to agree with that! This may look like a tribute to the U.S., but it's actually a symbol of friendship between Japan and France. This completely normal building is the HQ of Fuji TV Odaiba seriously has some of the coolest architecture in a country already filled with cool architecture! Another shot of the wholly unremarkable Fuji TV Building The most famous sight on Odaiba is almost surely its life-sized Gundam statue! (The man in front had a heart attack after seeing such amazingness. RIP.) o boi he THICC Here it is: the Great Golden Toothpick of Edo. The Fuji TV Building is utterly average in every conceivable manner. There is nothing unique or otherwise noteworthy about it whatsoever. The real reason I was here, however, was to head to Tokyo Joypolis. The Joypolis franchise is, at its core, an arcade chain. But it's got quite a few tricks up its sleeve…. [youtu_be] [/youtu_be]Take their spinning coaster for example—the first to ever invert! Now, being that this is an arcade, even the coaster has a game mechanic to it. The ride starts of with a "dark ride" section, in which screens are placed in front of you. The projections are of a rhythm game that you control by pressing buttons on your restraint. The game itself is themed to Sonic and Joypolis's own mascot. After that, you launch out into the section you see in the video, and then you head into a psycho rave before finally finishing. This entire place is a fever dream, but this ride is doubly so. [youtu_be] [/youtu_be]They also have this messed-up half-pipe… thing. You're supposed to stomp down at the bottom, and that makes your "board" spin. Joypolis also has plenty of other cool things, including an attraction themed to Initial D, but I decided to head out at this point. Merry Christmas [youtu_be] [/youtu_be]Oh yeah, there was this too…. Honestly, one of the best views in all of Tokyo. Wait, is it actually Christmas?? Getting back took me to the other side of the bay. When I got there, I was greeted with the most exciting sight… That's right: a monorail!!! Next up: Fuji-Q Highland! Maybe it won't take me four months this time…
  2. Day 13.2: Lagunasia After Hamanako, it was time to head back west to go to our next park, Lagunasia. [youtu_be] [/youtu_be]It was Shinkansen time again, and we got to see a few trains fly past the station! You'd never guess you're traveling faster than TTD! In the blink of an eye, we were at the front gates! Photo via Robb In Japan, you're not truly a park unless you have at least four mascots. In fact, I think it's a law of nature that everything in Japan must have a mascot…. The park entrance seems like it's goin' for a DisneySea-esque vibe. The middle of the park is actually filled with a bunch of water attractions, but they didn't seem to be open that day. Photo by Robb Some of us decided to get the family cred out of the way first. It's not completely embarrassing, but it's not my proudest credit either. Nearby is Pirates' Blast, which is this really janky Senyo coaster. Most of it is indoors, so bracing yourself can be a bit of a challenge! Photo by Robb Oh, and you get the choice to wear VR goggles and headphones! Not the most obvious choice for VR, but at least it's optional. The last credit here is Aqua Wind, or "Wet Fart," as the cool kids call it. [youtu_be] [/youtu_be]It's a standard Gerstlauer Bobsled, which is in no way a bad thing! Just look how quickly it whizzes around its course! The park's log flume is one of the best I've ever been on! Most of it's extremely well themed, although there is a point a little before the lift where they clearly ran out of money and just resorted to using Christmas lights for theming. I'm not sure whether or not I want them to finish it…. Anyway, that's Lagunasia! There were a couple other things there, but it was time to get back to Nagoya for one last night. Robb had recommended we check out this place called "The Lock-Up," so we headed out for a night on the town. This thing is usually a creepy mannequin, but here it's a creepy Chewie instead! This building is positively ~radiant~ As you might have guessed, the Lock-Up is prison-themed, but this is more of a madhouse than an Alcatraz. Before being seated at your table, someone from the group is chosen to be handcuffed while being led to the cell. Me being the naughty boy I am, I was the one picked for the walk of shame. Now, in most other institutions, this kind of treatment would normally lead to some real fun times, but this isn't Shinjuku, so I was stuck with a dinner instead. I wanna say Matt took this picture, but I'm not sure. Once every hour or so, the lights would go out, and there would then be a quick but intense rave put on by the workers, who all don scary masks. It's all quite disorienting. As you might expect, the food and drinks (especially the drinks) at the Lock-Up are pretty gimmicky, with drinks being served in blood bags, flasks, etc. Truth be told, the food was nothing special, but the Lock-Up's more about the overall experience than it is the cuisine. After eating, it was time to retire to the hotel for the big transfer tomorrow. Up next: We travel back to Tokyo for the final leg of the trip! I'll be hitting Tokyo Dome City, the Skytree, the Imperial Palace, and Odaiba!
  3. Day 13.1: Hamanako Pal Pal Today was yet another two-park day, and we were heading east to Hamanako Pal Pal, which is about halfway between Nagoya and Shizuoka. For that, we took a short trip on the Shinkansen…. Fun fact: The smallest escalator in the world is in a department store in Kawasaki, between Tokyo and Yokohama! Photo by Colin, obviously. The cab ride to the park was a bit "intimate" Hamanako Pal Pal is situated in a beautiful resort area surrounded by water At the entrance of the park looms one of the great mysteries of the modern world: Mega Coaster [youtu_be] [/youtu_be]It has the trains and heartline roll of SFGAd's old Viper and the dive loop of Big Apple Coaster, so, by all stretches of the imagination, this ride should be completely awful. Nevertheless, it's actually perfectly fine! Sure, it's not butter smooth by any means, but it won't kill ya. Photo by Chuck The ride's pretty damn forceful; the helix at the end was enough to make me gray out! The ride op was very, very enthusiastic about his job. When I took a ride by myself, he asked me if I wanted the "fast version." Sure enough, the chain lift did speed up a bit! I don't know how much of a difference it made, but the whole experience was pretty amusing! Right next to Mega Coaster is Mini Coaster. It's trying so hard to be a wild mouse, but it's not quite there. So, Hamanako Pal Pal is actually split into two halves that are separated by an arcade building…. The northern side has a big hill from which you can get a nice overview of Mega Coaster This is also where the park's Ferris wheel is located As you can see, there are dozens of hotels that ring the shores of the eponymous Lake Hamana. Here's most of the park. It's not huge, but it's great for a resort town. ♫Hamana boat! (Hamana boat!) Hamana boat! (Hamana boat!) Everybody look at me 'cause I'm sailing on a boat!♫ Hamanako Pal Pal seriously had one of the best settings of all the parks on the tour! Oh yeah, there's another credit here! You can take a gondola up this mountain This looks like a really lovely place for Japanese families to spend their vacations [youtu_be] [/youtu_be]The last coaster here is one of those old-school wild mice without a restraint. Sure, they're a little janky, but that's part of the charm! [youtu_be] [/youtu_be]This park is one of only a few to have one of these weird Togo flat rides. Looking at it, I thought I would be retching afterward, but it actually ended up being super fun! Right next to that is the park's log flume. Oddly enough, it has a splash guard…. The park has a very "summery" vibe to it It was almost time for us to head out, so I headed back to the other side to ride Mega Coaster one more time. Overall, I love the atmosphere of Hamanako Pal Pal, and I was surprised by the variety of attractions they have here! Next up: Lagunasia!
  4. This is a long one… Day 12: Legoland Japan and Higashiyama Zoo The last several days had been packed with long train rides, but today we were staying local. This basically doubled as our Nagoya free day in a sense, but the main event was the newly-opened… Legoland Japan Yes, Nagoya had just opened up their own Legoland a year before! Photo by Robb This was a new park for all of us, and I was certainly excited, because the last time I'd been to a Legoland was when I was but a wee lad. Wow, I can't believe they made a Roblox-themed park. Thanks for the encouragement Legoland has a modest two coasters, both of which can be found at other Legolands. [youtu_be] [/youtu_be]The main draw for us was Dragon Coaster. This is just like the ones at most other Legoland parks, with a short dark ride portion before climbing the lift hill. But, of course, the main attraction at any Legoland park is its impressive array of Lego sculptures. So get ready for… The Great Tour of Lego Japan Let us first make a stop at the harbor Here's Itsukushima Shrine, located near Hiroshima. Not sure where this is, but it looks cool. They've even got little gondolas! Random pagoda Good idea pulling out the covers; it was a hot one! The Car Carrier carries cars This building in Nagoya is called the "Mode Gakuen Spiral Towers," which is strange, 'cause it's only one tower…. Also in Nagoya is Oasis 21, a cool shopping center thing. I wanted to go here but never got around to it :c There's also this spiral thingy in the middle of downtown Nagoya. I'll show you that later…. It's frog o'clock! Heh heh heh heh hehhhhh… This is the Nagoya City Science Museum, but it looks more to me like the Death Star got plopped right onto some unsuspecting buildings. Throughout Miniland, you get to interact with many things, like this Osaka-style crab sign for instance! [youtu_be] [/youtu_be]Where's the jet coaster?? Here's Himeji Castle, the largest and one of the oldest intact castles in Japan. Big Brother is watching you This is one of the shrines in Tokyo Here's the crossing in Shibuya plus Tokyo Tower! This is the Rainbow Bridge in Tokyo, which we'll see later! [youtu_be] [/youtu_be]Across the Rainbow Bridge is Odaiba, which is famous for having a life-size Gundam! Also on Odaiba is the futuristic Fuji TV headquarters building Of course, no miniature model of Japan would be complete without a 30-foot-tall replica of the Tokyo Skytree! Who's up for a little bēsubōru? Hello again, Dōtombori! They've got the Glico dude! There are even people doing the pose on the bridge! ducc Here's a little bit o' Kyoto Well, wouldja lookit that… Fushimi Inari is, of course, known for its wonderful views of Mount Fuji Here's a better view of it all Here's the Golden Pavilion Obligatory artsy shot [youtu_be] [/youtu_be]Getting memories of my taiko days… Look how happy those bears are to see us! [youtu_be] [/youtu_be]Way up in Hokkaido is Sapporo Sapporo is known for its proximity to many great ski resorts (and for the eponymous beer, of course). Hokkaido gets an absolutely staggering amount of snow every winter Mount Fuji is so huge that it stretches all the way from Kobe to Hokkaido [youtu_be] [/youtu_be]Speaking of Kobe, here's Kobe! See? I told you it had only been a year! More of Himeji Castle Ah yes, and here is the #1 tallest Lego recreation of the Umeda Sky Building I've ever seen! ducc ducc ducc ducc The Osaka Ferris… oval thing… wasn't moving. But then again, the real one wasn't running for us either. Anyway, after all that, I was feeling a bit peckish, so I decided give this a try. 0/5 — not actually plastic. The observation tower gives a good overview of Miniland So that's Legoland! Obviously, for the coaster enthusiast in a hurry, Nagashima is going to take precedence over Legoland, but for the Lego lover, there are some great replicas! Higashiyama Zoo While some people checked out the local train museum after Legoland, we went on to Higashiyama Zoo, which actually had some rides for us! If you love stairs, Japan is your Mecca. Doesn't look like much of a competition… The only unambiguous credit here is Jet Coaster, which very much lives up to its name. [youtu_be] [/youtu_be]The most well-known attraction at Higashiyama is Slope Shooter, which is this weird side-friction "coaster" thing. For some reason, I had it in my mind that this ride was in, like, China or something; this seemed too weird even for Japan! But lo and behold! I think Matt took this one I am way too excited for this And yes, Higashiyama Zoo is a zoo, but, like Tobu Zoo, their cages do tend toward the smaller side…. I headed back to the hotel to settle down a bit before going back out. Here's that spiral structure we saw at Legoland! So, that night, a bunch of us decided it would be good to partake in some karaoke action while we were in Japan. We rented out a room for an hour, and sadness ensued…. [youtu_be] [/youtu_be]Jason looks on in disappointment. Anyway, while it was a good time, the rate was a bit steep in many people's eyes, so we decided to head out after one hour. But karaoke is a must when you're in Japan! Next up: Hamanako Pal Pal!
  5. Day 11: Parque España Today was another single-park day, and we were heading down south to Parque España! We've found him, boys. The train took us a long ways down through Mie Prefecture, past lovely scenes of misty mountains and towns. You know how I feel about these small towns… One would hope that a park called "Parque España" would be themed to Spain, and so it is! It's not quite as odd a choice as Brazil, but you still wouldn't necessarily expect a park like this in Japan. We had actually planned to go to Nagashima this day, but the forecast, as it turned out, said today was going to be a washout. This wasn't too bad, however, as Parque España's got many indoor rides. (Chuck took my "The rain in Spain falls mainly on Japan" joke, but I won't hold it against him too much.) Take, for instance, Iron Bull (or "Tron Butt", as it was known in our group)…. This was a very strange indoor coaster that had recently been re-themed to a steampunk aesthetic. The ride was a bit janky, and it's paced really weirdly. Imagine if the Backlot Stunt Coasters had lift hills right after their helicopter shootout sections; that's basically what happens here. Photo by Robb Luckily for us, their family coaster runs in the rain. I think Taylor's and my faces really encapsulate the sheer whorishness of the whole ordeal. Photo by Chuck "God help me, for I am a filthy whore!" As I said, there's a number of nice indoor rides at Parque España, including a nice shooting dark ride, but arguably the most eccentric of these was their walkthrough themed to Alice in Wonderland…. [youtu_be] [/youtu_be]Hahah! Move over, Don Quixote; there's a new Spanish classic in town! Yeah, if you thought an English-themed attraction in a Spanish-themed park was weird enough, wait 'til you actually see the whole thing! Just the pre-show's enough to draw confused laughter from us! First they give you a wand which you will use on various things throughout the attraction. This is the handle, and it has… y'know… a certain shape…. [youtu_be] [/youtu_be]You first need to follow this farting rabbit into the woods—the woods, of course, being one of those disorienting mirror mazes that we had grown accustomed to by this point. These wands are actually pretty cool, if a bit finicky. Here you have to light all three candles up at the same time. Look, I'm no Alice expert, but isn't the Cheshire Cat's smile supposed to remain visible? This dude represents all our feelings right now [youtu_be] [/youtu_be]I found it hilarious just how violently these ghosts explode! [youtu_be] [/youtu_be]Boss fight! Get ready to frantically waggle your wands with reckless abandon! [youtu_be] [/youtu_be]Curiously, the boss fight isn't at the end; you've still got a couple more sections to go before you leave. I don't even know what's happening anymore… Finally, after slaying ghosts and other monsters in cold blood, Alice says the only way out is to wave the wand at her! I really don't know what to make of this attraction, but I'm so glad I did this. Back outside, it was still raining. The park doesn't look half bad in the rain, though! There's a bunch of stuff at the foot of the hill, too. There's a relaxing raft ride and a dark ride similar to the balloon ride at New Reoma World. In keeping with the Spanish theme, this attraction accurately recreates the experience of taking a mysterious pill given to you by some freaky dude on a beach in Ibiza. [youtu_be] [/youtu_be]And, of course, after you're done at the bottom, you can take the famous "Escalator Ride" back to the top! This is truly the best ride in the park; it's got killer music, it runs in the rain, and, as Mitch Hedberg said, escalators don't break; they only become stairs. It was around this time that we got some lunch. Among some other things, I got a bunch of little sausages that were so juicy that biting into one of them caused it to squirt all the way onto Adam's shirt! (Make your own innuendo). This is the square where they publicly execute all the people who dare insult the Escalator Ride The rain was beginning to lighten up somewhat, but it was still a ways away from stopping completely. While searching for things to do, I stumbled upon a bunch of the others waiting for Dulcinea's Fantasy World, which is a bizarre 360-degree 3D movie. I don't remember much from it other than there being a strong aquatic theme. The best(?) part was at the end when Poseidon emerges from the depths and bursts into a mass of dolphins, whales, and various other cetaceans. Back at the bottom, they have this cool pirate ship you can walk through. It's rather short, but it's nice. A few of us caught the end of this show I got in a ride on their log flume that snakes around the mountain shared by Gran Montserrat. The radar showed that the rain was about to finally subside, but it was nearing closing time, and it would take about an hour for the rides to dry off enough to run. However… [youtu_be] [/youtu_be]…it turns out the park was willing to run Pyrenees for us! They did warn us, however, that we would likely get some grease falling from the ride. Most of the group wore their ponchos, but I went a different route…. As it turns out, the park sold plain white T-shirts in my size! Now, the grease probably wouldn't have shown on the shirt I was already wearing, but I wasn't going to pass up this opportunity to get a one-of-kind souvenir! Photo by Robb I'm really thankful that they let us on this ride, 'cause it is damn good! It's very similar in overall experience to Raptor, except I'd say it runs a little smoother. (And yes, I did get a few grease spots on my shirt). After getting our fill, it was time to leave. Parque España may be a little out of the way, but it's definitely one of the most legit parks in Japan! Adiós, Parque España…. The surrounding city of Shima is as quaint as any other town in Japan And so began the long journey back to Nagoya… Y'know, even though I was thousands of miles from home, I never felt too out of place. Scenes like this reminded me ever so slightly of Ohio. Maybe I've just been exposed to Japanese stuff so much that even the more "extreme" things seemed somehow familiar. I adore these riverside houses! The Land of the Setting Sun And we're back! Next up: Legoland Japan and Higashiyama Zoo!
  6. Day 10: Nagashima Spa Land After several days in Osaka, it was time to head east to Nagoya. Nagoya's about halfway between Osaka and Tokyo, so we took the Shinkansen there. I really got addicted to taking pictures on the trains during this trip. Can ya blame me, though? Just look at that water tower! How brutalist! Anyway, here are some more photos I took on the train: So, as I'm sure you're aware, Nagashima Spa Land is one of the biggest amusement parks in Japan, located just west of Nagoya, and is known as the "Cedar Point of Japan," with its numerous large rides and waterside setting. Unsurprisingly, most of the group immediately flocked to the park's giga coaster Steel Dragon 2000, which is currently the longest coaster (by track length) in the world! [youtu_be] [/youtu_be]Steel Dragon is pretty much what you'd expect of a scaled-up Morgan hyper. While it rattles a bit in a few spots, it offers some very good airtime and is just a blast to ride! One of the surprises for me was the park's Bobkart! It's basically an electric alpine slide, and it's just good fun! I wish they had these in the States! [youtu_be] [/youtu_be]Nagashima's newest coaster at the time was Arashi, an S&S 4D Free Spin coaster. This was actually my first 4D coaster ever, and it was absolutely insane! Just as you leave the lift, you're already tumbling head-over-heels, not knowing which way is up or down. This thing is a bit of a ball-buster, though, with how much it throws you around, so watch yourselves, fellas! To aid in the CP comparisons, Nagashima has its own Corkscrew! This is just the classic double-corkscrew layout—nothing spectacular. They also have not one, but TWO mirrored Mack wild mice here. The right side was closed today, but whatever; a mouse is a mouse. [youtu_be] [/youtu_be]In the middle of the park is Looping Star, a classic Schwarzkopf looper. As you'd expect, this thing is super fun and very rerideable! [youtu_be] [/youtu_be]Remember how the Ultra Twister at Washuzan Highland was closed? Well, when we got to Nagashima, theirs was also down! But as it turns out, it was just undergoing an inspection, and it opened an hour or two later. Togo Ultra Twisters are weird beasts, as you can see in the video, but they aren't too bad, really! (Also, listen to that music. Nagashima has a playlist of maybe 40-50 songs, and I swear a quarter of them are about the park itself.) "No Crocs! Have some self-respect, people!" [youtu_be] [/youtu_be]One of the newer additions to the park is Acrobat, a clone of Manta at SeaWorld. I tell ya, after the Flying Dinosaur, this seemed tame by comparison. But still, nothing beats a good B&M flyer! [youtu_be] [/youtu_be]The park has a haunted walkthrough complete with crucifixion! (Actually, a lot of these things seemed to feature crucifixion…). Sarah wasn't a fan. [youtu_be] [/youtu_be]Nagashima also has what would end up being my first Schwarzkopf shuttle loop! Pretty good! Today was a hot one, so I took a ride on the splash boat. This one does get you drenched, but honestly, that was pretty welcome! You can also see what was White Cyclone sitting in the background there; it was, of course, undergoing RMC-ification into the then-unnamed Hakugei. Gonna have to come back one of these days! [youtu_be] [/youtu_be]After getting my kiddie credit, I just mucked about for while. Unfortunately, Jet Coaster never opened :c But after park closing, we did some filming on Steel Dragon, Arashi, and Acrobat! Photo via Robb, of course Arashi really is one of the few rides that can make me scream my head off. I should have ridden it more! And so our day came to an end. It should go without saying that Nagashima Spa Land is an absolute MUST for any coaster enthusiast in Japan. I will note, however, that operations there tended to be on the slow side, but that shouldn't discourage you from visiting this place! We got some beautiful views of the sunset on our way to the hotel! Gorgeous And here we are: downtown Nagoya! You see that building on the right with all the logos on it? That's where we'll be staying the next few nights! The Nagoya metro area is the third most populous in Japan, but despite this, someone in our group found an article calling Nagoya the "most boring city in Japan" while looking for things to do there. If that's the case, then Japan must be even more exciting than I thought! Of the four hotels we stayed in on this trip, Nagoya's certainly had the best nighttime view! Up next: Parque España!
  7. Day 9.2: Exploring Kyoto After Hirakata Park, four of us made the trip up to Kyoto. Kyoto was only like a half hour northeast of where we were, so the choice seemed obvious. Fushimi Inari-taisha Kyoto was the capital of Japan for centuries before Tokyo (its name literally means "capital city"). As such, it's loaded with history and tradition. One of the biggest draws to Kyoto is Fushimi Inari, a massive, 1300-year-old Shinto shrine that sprawls out over the side of Mt. Inari, with a vertical of over 600 ft. from base to peak. Random canal This was the first of many, many torii we'd be seeing over the next few hours. There were lots of vendors on this path to the shrine. And that makes two And here's where our journey really begins! As seen on the right in this photo, you could find some people dressed in kimonos walking about. The bells (called Suzu) in Shinto shrines are said to call good spirits while warding off bad ones You can see the Suzu more clearly here By far the most famous thing about this shrine is its paths up the mountain which are lined with a huge amount of torii; however, the large amount of people posing for pics near the bottom means mobility can easily get restricted in these tunnels. There are around a thousand of these torii enclosing the main path alone! Catbutt The path isn't just torii, though; there are many uncovered sections that let you view the beautiful surroundings. Take this little creek for example! Along the way, there are these open areas with smaller shrines and a metric crapton of little torii scattered throughout. These are cool detours if you get tired of walking the main path. They leave out food for all the kitties here! Y'ever tried to steer a pond? About halfway up, there's a clearing that lets you get a great view of the city! At this point, the path forks into a loop that goes to the peak and back. We ended up taking what I believe to be the less direct way up. With how exhausting this climb was, we probably should've gone the other way! The sun was starting to sink, so we had to get a move on! It wasn't exactly cool out, and the trees blocked any breezes from coming in, so I felt like I was in a sauna! I love all the nooks and crannies of these things! This path really snakes up and down the mountainside There were a few really long staircases that absolutely killed me Photo via Taylor But after over an hour of climbing, we finally made it to the top! "I am so close to just collapsing dead on the ground" There are more mini-torii up on the peak Yep, we're in Japan. The walk down was a lot more direct than the walk up, which came as a relief. One of the best things about making it this far is that the tunnels up here are a lot less congested, especially this late in the day. At the aforementioned midway point, there's another staircase that leads you to one of the best views of Kyoto available! The others were not too keen on climbing any more stairs, but I hadn't punished myself enough that day, so I trekked it alone just in time to catch the sun sinking behind the ridge! (Keep in mind, it was 7:00 on the summer solstice! That's way earlier than I'm used to!) What a fantastic view! Just the most stunni— …oh. As twilight neared, even the lower portions of Fushimi Inari cleared out. Wandering the shrine is much better when the crowds have left Another Suzu Look at this hairy child Dunno what this is; looks nice, though! The shrine kinda connects to a neighborhood. What a place to live! "Hello, I'm a tree. Pay attention to me." We made our way through the neighborhood to get back to the front of the shrine The shrine's even more impressive at night! We had a great time at Fushimi Inari, but it was time for us to move on…. Kyoto Station Now THAT'S a fan fit for a train! I'm so happy to see Gudetama getting some love! You may be wondering what's so special about a train station. Well, this isn't just some bare-bones station; it's a multi-story engineering marvel! (Plus it's featured in a Tony Hawk game). Just look at this thing! It's like a mall on steroids! If you're a fan of escalators, then boy do I have a place for you! [youtu_be] [/youtu_be]About halfway up, there's this huge staircase with animated lights on it! There's Kyoto Tower! I'm still amazed by the kaleidoscopic twists and turns of this building! There's a green space on the roof Kyoto may not be as glitzy and glamorous as other Japanese cities, but it's beautiful all the same! It may look like the stage down there is at the bottom, but it's actually about halfway up! This place is just humongous! After all that, it was time to head back to the hotel for our last night in Osaka. There are other things I would've liked to have done, like going to the Golden Pavilion or feeding macaques at Iwatayama Monkey Park, but I guess those are just more reasons to come back! Next up: Nagashima Spa Land!
  8. ^So I've heard. Does that leave just Elf and Jupiter in Japan?
  9. Lots of videos in this one… Day 9.1: USJ redux and Hirakata Park Today would be a very jam-packed day from morning 'til night, and it all began with a second crack at Universal after the events of the other day…. More Universal Since Hirakata was originally scheduled for this day, we decided to get to the gates as early as possible to get in our credits before leaving. [youtu_be] [/youtu_be]For us, the big prize was the Flying Dinosaur. (What's Universal got against the word "pterodactyl"? First Pteranodon Flyers, now this!) This thing is intense as hell! The back-to-back barrel roll, sidewinder, and pretzel loop really take it outta you! [youtu_be] [/youtu_be]This area also has people dressed up in these really cool dino suits! [youtu_be] [/youtu_be]After getting my Snoopy coaster credit, I moved on to the last one I needed: Hollywood Dream – The Ride. It's not the most exhilarating ride in the world, but it was running one train backwards, so that spiced things up quite a bit! Hirakata Park The main event for today involved a short ride to the northern parts of Osaka Prefecture, much closer to the epicenter of the quake just a few days before. Looking around, you'd have never known that this place was just in the middle of a strong earthquake! "What in the hell is this!?!?" (No, seriously, what is he holding?) "Hirapah," as it's nicknamed, is a family-oriented park with no overtly thrilling rides, but it's very scenic and has tons of charm! Look at this lil guy! Photo by Robb Our first ride was on Elf, an old-school Intamin woodie. "Elf" is actually an acronym for "Episode of Little Fairies". Makes it sound like some kind of military code name…. [youtu_be] [/youtu_be]Elf was one of only two wooden coasters the entire trip. It's a fairly small coaster, and it does have a few bumps here and there, but it does offer a few moments of airtime! (Hi Barry!) [youtu_be] [/youtu_be]Red Falcon is the obligatory jet coaster of the park. It's pretty standard for a jet coaster, but it has this weird way of banking in which the spine stays in place while the ties move. Watch Robb's POV; you'll see what I mean. The park also has a classic spinning mouse coaster… except this one doesn't spin! You do get some pretty fierce laterals on that second half, though! Dontcha just love the little characters they create for these things? Of course there's a Ferris wheel My last credit of the day was on the oddly-named Fantastic Coaster Rowdy. As anyone can tell you, only one of those adjectives is true. Nothing's rowdier than a pink alligator! …Or is that a crocodile? …A caiman perhaps? [youtu_be] [/youtu_be]I know it's a bit cliché to say this, but some of these coasters really do look like they were designed in RollerCoaster Tycoon. But honestly, I wouldn't have it any other way! "Better than RMC!" So, Mr. Kitagawa was back with us again, and he told us that this rather odd sign was actually used in advertisements for the park! Photo by Colin So of course we had to imitate it! Needless to say, I was a bit big for it! Photo by Chuck And this is me moments after nearly capsizing. Well, I probably couldn't capsize this if I tried, but it sure felt like it! Clearly, this was not made for big ol' hunks o' meat like myself; after the five(?)-foot splashdown, some of us got stuck in the trough, and we had to reach out and grab the sides to move us along! This was dumb as hell, but also hilarious! One of the more eccentric attractions of Hirapah is Legend of Luxor. [spoiler alert]: Basically, you and your group go inside individual Egyptian-style sarcophagi. You sit down in there, put on some cheap headphones, and then stick your hands outside your sarcophagus. A video then plays on a screen in front of you, and it's the most confusing, B-movie-tier, yet entertaining stuff you've ever seen. The best part was one point in the film where a scorpion "stung my hand," and somebody outside whipped my hands with a band of some kind! I know (or think) it's supposed to be scary, but I was nearly cracking up the whole time! Image via Robb Here we are gettin' gnomed! It was getting a little late, so we decided to do one more attraction. This this thing was interesting…. We were first given these booklet things and told to go into a cave area. After a pre-show of sorts, we stood around wondering what to do next. The workers, clearly taking pity on us poor fools, then proceeded to show us how it's done. As it turns out, we had to walk around the whole volcano looking for the things in this map. You then punch out answers in your map. For the finale, you all go inside the volcano and throw blue foam balls ("water") into a big basket to keep the lava on a screen down while simultaneously tapping monsters on the screen to kill them. It's all a bit hectic. At the end, you get a nice little card! (I wouldn't call our performance "perfect," but whatevs). Hirakata Park, while not aimed at thrill seekers, is a really nice park for what it is. And given its convenient location right in between Osaka and Kyoto, there's no real reason to not go at least once, especially given its more left-field offerings. Next up: We explore Kyoto!
  10. Day 8.2: New Reoma World To get to our next park, we had to take a train over the water! Most of the things we'd done so far had been on the island of Honshu, which is the largest island of Japan; New Reoma Land, however, is on Shikoku, directly south of where we were. The sea between Honshu and Shikoku is pockmarked by my many smaller islands, several of which have these cute little villages! If you have a fear of the ocean, this train ain't for you! (Train't for you?) Really great scenery As we reached the shores of Shikoku, we were greeted with some cool industrial stuff. For real, though, the ride didn't take long at all! This scene outside Kotohira Station is just so quintessentially Japanese: the rain, the huge mountain obscured by mist, the utter coziness of this town… it's just so lovely! The park has a gorgeous hillside setting! The rain was heavier here, but I do love the look of misty mountains! Photo by Robb A little rain don't hurt nobody! Photo via Robb We all made a beeline for the park's biggest coaster, Vivace. (The literal Italian translation means "lively," but in a musical context, it basically means "quickly," which is what I bet they were going for). [youtu_be] [/youtu_be]The coaster is a quirky little contraption—basically a cross between a mine train and a jet coaster, with a little bit of Schwarzkopf thrown in for good measure. Not a bad combo! Their shooting dark ride had capybaras out front. (I found it interesting that Washuzan Highland of all places didn't have any, considering they're native to Brazil and all). After that, some of us did a strange, hard-to-explain haunted walkthrough attraction with scare actors (actually, there might have only been one scare actor doing multiple things). And after that, we moved on to their not-Space-Mountain coaster, Spaceship 2056…. It may look like we're waiting for a show, but this is in fact the queue for the coaster! [youtu_be] [/youtu_be]After you're let inside, you're led through this impressive, if a little kitschy, themed hallway to… …a space elevator! Because lift hills are just so passé. [youtu_be] [/youtu_be]Once you're let out, you go through this trippy tunnel, and then you're finally at the station! The ride itself wasn't anything special, but you may find yourself squeezed in tight, especially if you've got a bag like I did. [youtu_be] [/youtu_be]After you're done, there's still a little bit of theming left. The park also has this weird suspended balloon ride thing. It's just as odd as you'd expect. God, we're pathetic. I guess I should point out that the park's Ferris wheel has a few carriages that look like seats from an inverted coaster. We didn't do that, though; we weren't that interested in sitting out in the rain. [youtu_be] [/youtu_be]This coaster is a really cute wild mouse-style ride. It's great for a nice solo ride! As you can see, the rain had started to pick up, so I decided to make my way back to the entrance area. This is really nice to have when the weather isn't perfect! NRW was another "sleeper hit," I think. The park had a cool setting and many unique attractions, even if nothing there was bucket list material. And despite not being right in the middle of everything, the park is really not too out of the way either, so don't write it off just because it may be a slight detour. The sun's already sinking at five, but that lighting is gorgeous! Next up: More Universal and Hirakata Park!
  11. ^It was my first earthquake ever. I'd never really been in earthquake-prone places much before this.
  12. Day 8.1: Washuzan Highland Today was another two-park day, and we were heading out west, past Kobe, to what might have been the most bizarre park of the whole trip: Washuzan Highland. It was another rainy day, but that's okay, 'cause both parks today ran their rides in the rain! So, uh, the station by the park was pretty interesting…. Yeah, so Kurashiki has a thing for denim. Who knew? Like a ruin in the Amazon, the park rises up out of the woods. Okay, so I had no idea about this going in, but Washuzan Highland is themed to Brazil! This makes Parque España look normal by comparison! I assume this is thanks to Brazil having the most Japanese expats of any country and that Brazilians represent the largest non-Asian demographic in Japan. It's still an amusing theme, though! Brazilian Bing is the biggest competitor to Brazilian Google Oh, hi there…. I was running a bit behind the pack, so I had to hightail it if I wanted to catch up. The thing is… in order to get to where everyone else was, I would have to hike a seemingly endless set of stairs up Mt. Washu itself. This right here is only part of it! Still, I had conquered Tokyo Tower mere days before; surely I could handle this! I could barely stand after this. But what a view! Up here is their human-powered "roller coaster," which is just as much clickbait fodder as Diving Coaster: Vanish, but for good reason! The ride takes you (or rather, you take yourself) out over a very large cliff, which is made all the more unsettling by your bare-bones seat belt and sketchy seats. Photo by Chris Having lagged behind, I was the last to get their ride in. This park honestly had some of the best views of the entire trip, and I think the rain clouds just added to that! Standing on Mt. Washu, you're offered a grand panorama of the Seto Inland Sea, with its myriad islands and islets. You also get a great scene of the giant suspension bridge that we would be taking very soon! (I somehow didn't get a picture of it, though). Heading down the stairs to ride Star Jet, I came across this little guy enjoying the weather. Lurking in the forest is this shabby beast. Star Jet has since been repainted (and renamed), but in this state, it was hard not to approach it with a little trepidation. "Tu está totalmente ferrado huehuehue" [youtu_be] [/youtu_be]This coaster had all the makings of a deathtrap: it was rusty, a Togo, and one train went backwards! There was no way this thing was gonna be good. But somehow it was! The ride itself was actually quite comfortable, and you get some killer airtime going over those humps! Maybe my opinion would've been different if the stand-up train had been running instead, but it's certainly a fine ride! Unfortunately for us, the other two coasters there—a jet coaster and an Ultra Twister—weren't running, but we'd be riding plenty of jet coasters, and there'd be another Ultra Twister later on. [youtu_be] [/youtu_be]They even had a real samba band playing some tunes, and the dancers came over and danced with us! During pauses in the music, there were educational segments, including a short Portuguese lesson… which of course was in Japanese! Where else could we have learned that "obrigado" is Portuguese for "ありがとう"? Being that we were literally the only ones there, these people must have really appreciated the audience! Wow, these guys sure know how to advertise! Photo by Robb So that was our day at Washuzan Highland! This is such a quirky park that I definitely recommend you visit it, even if it's not the most glamorous park around. If you're traveling between Hiroshima and Osaka, check this place out! Adeus, Washuzan Highland. Oh yeah, I forgot about how much they love jeans here…. Photo by Robb Well, who can deny a nice pair? Next up: New Reoma World!
  13. ^^It really made the whole experience that much more authentic, ya know? It's funny, though; Japan seems so much more well-prepared big quakes than Cali. ^Fingers crossed! Thank you for dealing with their shenanigans, though!
  14. ^Thanks, Elissa! I'm glad we all escaped unscathed! Day 7: Universal Studios Japan After the craziness of the day before, this day came as something of a relief. We wouldn't have to worry about getting stuck on any platforms, and we didn't need to race anywhere; it was just just a short walk to the park! I was really looking forward to this, as I hadn't been to a Universal park in ten years! Of course, things could never go that smoothly…. Runner-up in the 2018 "Sequels That Never Should Have Happened" contest ♪Doot-doot-dooooooot dooooooot doot-doot-doot-doot-dooooooooot♪ So, today was the first day we faced any real crowds on this trip. Being that it was a Tuesday, I'm willing to bet most of the other guests were tourists from other East Asian countries, and I did seem to hear a lot of non-Japanese spoken. Goes to show how big of a draw this place is! Photo by Robb "Move out of the way, casuals! It's credit time!" …Or so we thought. As it turns out, the park's major coasters were still shut down due to the earthquake, although the park issued no heads up about that. We hoped they might open up later in the day, but they never did. This lack of communication was compounded by the fact that the park offered no refunds for tickets that day. So while Robb dealt with this whole situation, the rest of us split off to make the best of our visit. Luckily, the ride formerly known as Space Fantasy was up and running. This year they themed the ride to Final Fantasy. For this, they had VR headsets, which wasn't so bad because the trains don't stop in the station, so the line moved fine. Unfortunately, the cars didn't spin like usual, and only the front-facing seats were used. (And also I didn't see any Tifa, so I was disappointed, personally ). Even if we couldn't ride the coasters, the view on the lake was pretty great! (Doug broke his head in the earthquake pls pray for him) I remember us doing Terminator around this time. I had already seen it in Orlando, and it was exactly as I remembered it, but I gotta say, the hostess had the most impressively intense bow I've ever seen! Okay, so the Flying Dinosaur wasn't open, but at least we had this classic to ride! Of course the American's gotta ruin everything Obviously, we couldn't go to Universal and not ride their Spider-Man ride. It started to rain around noon, which is okay in a park consisting largely of indoor rides. (I mean, it's not like the coasters were gonna open anyway…). My group and I headed over to the Hogwarts area—something that was completely new to me! I knew next to nothing about the Harry Potter ride, but I was pleasantly surprised! I probably would've appreciated it more if I understood what the hell was going on, but it was certainly an experience! Luckily for us, Flight of the Hippogriff was open! While we were in this area, we checked out the Wand Studies… "show," I guess? If you don't know, in this thing, one person in a small crowd is chosen to wield a wand. A wizard dude then instructs the "student" to cast spells on various things in the room. Hijinks ensue. Me being the young, bright-eyed lad I am, I was the one chosen to be the wizard in training. Looking back, I feel like I shoulda hammed it up a bit more, but I was probably too dumbstruck to really feel the performance, y'know? The restaurant's really cool! Leaked scene from the fifth Jaws movie, And You Thought the Last Three Were Bad. After being thoroughly wizarded, a few of us went over to the Peanuts area to ride the looks-like-a-Vekoma-but-is-actually-a-Senyo kiddie coaster over there. Surprise, surprise, it was down! It had been open earlier, but, I dunno, maybe this indoor coaster doesn't run in the rain…. Heading back to the front gate, I spied an attraction advertising Sailor Moon. Now, I've never watched Sailor Moon before, but, c'mon, how could I pass this up?? The attraction itself is a 3-D movie wherein the theater is ripped out from the park and flung into space, and it's up to Sailor Moon et al. to save you! It was strange, but I would have regretted missing it. At this point, I thought it might be a good idea to go back to the hotel and wait to hear if any of the rides open. And we all know how turned out. This day was by no means a bad day, but there was a palpable disappointment among our group, especially those who had visited before. But we'd get our redemption! Next up: Washuzan Highland! Oh yeah, they have a Minions area too…. Fuck that.
  15. ^Thanks! Those days were easily on par with the park days! Day 6: Misaki Park and Adventure World I had been in Japan for nearly a week, and today was finally the first official day of the trip! The plan was to head due south to two smaller parks: Misaki Park and Adventure World. Some people held back, preferring to get more time at USJ. I, for one, was excited to check out some lesser-known parks and all the quirks that come with them; however, things got off to a (literally) rocky start…. As we were on the train platform to head out of Osaka, I suddenly felt as though I were already on a train! I had gotten accustomed to that sensation by this point, so keeping my balance wasn't a huge issue, but if there's one thing I know, it's that train stations don't typically shake from side to side. I was listening to some music through my bulky headphones, but even through them I could hear some banging around; I thought a train was crashing or something! By the time I realized what was going on, it was over, leaving me to take off my headphones and say, "Was that an earthquake!" Of course, it was an earthquake—a strong one at that! While it was a relatively modest 5.5–6.0 (depending on your source/scale), it was very shallow, and we were quite near the epicenter! The quake was evidently enough to warrant a Wikipedia article, and this one was apparently the first of its strength to be measured in Osaka Prefecture! (The Kansai region apparently doesn't get quite as many quakes as many other regions). Unfortunately, the quake did end up killing four people and injuring hundreds more, but in an area with millions and millions of people, I suppose it's a testament to Japanese engineering that there weren't more. Although this was my first ever earthquake, I probably underreacted to the initial event; I had thought that something like this might happen, although I still probably should've been watching out for falling light fixtures, one of which did fall across the track from us. That being said, I did end up feeling a little unnerved for basically the rest of the trip. I frequently felt a slight swaying sensation, but I didn't know whether it was from real aftershocks, from being on trains all day, or maybe my mind was just playing tricks on me. There were actual aftershocks, though; I remember feeling a small swaying sensation at the hotel sink and then looking up to see the hand towels swaying too! Anyway, back to the station: Only a train or two made it past over the next hour or so, but everyone was clearly hard at work to get everything up and running again. Overall, it took about two hours of sitting around on the platform for us to get out of the station. The turnaround was pretty damn impressive for what had just occurred, but it was now a race against the clock for us! But fist… "So the legends were true…." Misaki Park Misaki Park is in the southern reaches of Osaka Prefecture and was certainly the smallest and quirkiest park we'd been to thus far. As you can see, the park was a little… homely? Our first ride of the day was this really weird Hopkins coaster called the "New Wild Mouse Coaster", which is strange because there seems to have never been an old wild mouse. I really don't know what to make of this thing; it's like Hopkins had some spare track lying around and then cobbled together some pseudo-mouse coaster. [youtu_be] [/youtu_be]As was usual for this trip, the park was deserted (school was in session), and they had some creepy music playing over the speakers. I can only imagine how unsettling this would have been if I'd been alone! Photo by Robb We then moved on to do some whoring on the Child Coaster! Obviously, the seating conditions weren't ideal. Photo by Taylor Just smile and wave…. Children on the Child Coaster Photo by Robb "What can I say? I needed the credit!" Photo by Chuck The last credit was up the hill: Jet Coaster! Jetto Kōsutā is the generic term for roller coasters in Japanese, and coasters with that name tend to be, well, kinda generic. That's not to say they can't be fun, though! This jet coaster in particular is the second oldest coaster in Japan, and it gives very nice views of the surrounding area! Photo by Robb The ride's similar to Cyclone at Toshimaen, but it doesn't have as much airtime or speed. We didn't have much time to savor it, though; we had to move quick if we wanted to make it to our next park! Photo by Robb Some decided to dip around this time, fearing we wouldn't make it to the next park in time. For us intrepid few, though, we didn't mind cutting it close! Adventure Park was the southernmost park on the trip, and the trip from Misaki is a couple hours long. I was totally fine with that, though, 'cause the trip through Wakayama Prefecture was stunningly beautiful! Most of trip stayed along the coast, with its several scattered villages and rias. Even if we hadn't made it to the park, the views on this train would've been worth it! On the way, we passed by an amusement park across the water called Porto Europa. It turns out that its big coaster is SBNO, so no big deal passing it up. There's something about industrial areas like this that I think's really cool There's just something so comfy about these little towns with their rice fields situated in these green valleys I would totally live here As we neared our destination, we were treated to some splendid views of the Pacific! Not so much of a beach, but still beautiful nonetheless! Adventure World And here we are! And just under the wire too! That being said, we only had about half an hour to get our rides in. As you can see, the park was celebrating its 40th anniversary. (Actually, a lot of parks/things seemed to be celebrating anniversaries….) To tell you the truth, I don't think I'd ever heard of this park before, but I was immediately taken by its gorgeous location! Sorry guys, we've got credits to get! Photo by Robb For our first ride, we all flocked to Big Adventure, the park's biggest coaster. Photo by Robb This is us in adventure mode. Truth is, Big Adventure is pretty much THE archetypal jet coaster, with not much in the way of forces, but a pretty nice ride overall. Because one weird wild mouse in a day wasn't enough…. The panda theming (oh yeah, this park has pandas btw) was already amusing, but the ride itself was really odd, with not as much of the laterals as you'd expect on a mouse… [youtu_be] [/youtu_be]…but the brakes certainly pack a punch! They also have a fun powered coaster for you whores out there In the "never in America" section of the park… Photo by Robb After getting our rides in, it was time to leave. Would've liked to have stayed longer, but clearly our circumstances weren't ideal! Misaki Park and Adventure World kinda fill the same niche for a coaster enthusiast: they're small parks with average rides. But while they won't be most people's first choices when they come to Japan, they're nice enough for their charm. After leaving, it was a quick cab ride back to the train station. Adventure World really does have a surprisingly good setting! As we waited for the train, we got to walk around this cozy little area and pick up some snacks before the long trip back. Caught some surfers catching some waves! The ride back wasn't without delays, but basically everything was up and running again by the end of the day, impressively. Arriving back at Universal, many of the stores were closed for the time being, but at least we wouldn't have to worry about any long train rides the following day…. Next up: Universal Studios!
  16. Day 5: Exploring Osaka By now, everyone was here, but we wouldn't be sticking around in Tokyo; we were headed to Osaka! We would eventually end our trip back in Tokyo, but for now, we'd be doing our business to the southwest. [youtu_be] [/youtu_be]And what better way to get there than by bullet train!? Yeah, these things fly… but they're smooth as hell! Oh, look! There's Mt. Fuji peeking down on us! Just an absolute unit While the city is great, the Japanese countryside is really somethin' else. And here we are! City Walk at Universal Studios Japan! Photo by Robb And this is where we'll be having our welcome meal! It was all-you-can-eat! I had never been to one of these kinds of restaurants before, but it was cool being able to cook your own meat on the grill. Plus the food was great! Photo by Robb None of us were particularly confident enough in our cooking skills to try our hands at the chicken, so we just stuck to the beef. Who could complain, though? We headed to our new hotel to get settled in a bit. They had these lil jelly bois outside the elevators. I gotta say, the hotel at Universal was probably my favorite! Fancy After getting everything situated, a few of us decided to go to the Umeda Sky Building. As you can see, the Umeda Sky Building is a massive Π-shaped structure that towers over its surroundings. [youtu_be] [/youtu_be]Looks like fun Nice of them to give the water its own set of stairs Upskirt You see those beams spanning that gap up there…? Those are escalators! Ah yes, the second-largest Lego model of the Umeda Sky Building I've ever seen. Up on top, in the open air, you get a stunning view of downtown Osaka! Random giant Ferris wheel in the distance Yeah, those escalators are nuts! [youtu_be] [/youtu_be]I happened to catch some fireworks going off waaaaaaayy off in distance You get a great view of the Yodo River from up here Simply gorgeous Here I am looking like a complete jabroni After getting our fill, we headed back to Umeda Station to go to our next destination: Dōtombori! There was a bunch of covered walkways on the way to the canal Huh And we're here! Dōtombori is definitely the most famous area of Osaka with its canal and unique signage I just love this place! You can take a boat ride down the canal! Like I said, they've got some unique signs here…. Of all the signs here, the most famous is almost certainly the "Glico Man." Different iterations of this sign have been up since 1935, with the current one having been installed in 2014. It's common to see people taking pictures posing like the man. More crazy signs In case there was any doubt, the Japanese do love their seafood. "Come to our restaurant! We're the one with the evil baby!" We started heading back around this time. Apparently, this used to be a drop tower, but it's now a rock climbing wall. Still cool, though! Some nice art to accompany your commute All in all, Osaka is every bit as vibrant as Tokyo and has tons of cool attractions! Next up: Misaki Park and Adventure World!
  17. Day 4: Tokyo free day no. 1 The pre-trip had now drawn to a close, but the trip was only just beginning! Today was the day when everybody else would be arriving, leaving us early birds to do whatever the hell we wanted! I decided to set out on my own to explore some sights at my own pace…. Akihabara The main place I wanted to peruse was the famous Akihabara, so I set off to see how well I could navigate this metropolis as a first-time tourist…. Wish me luck, little guy. Japanese Toilet Protip™: The top character means "big," and the bottom one means "small." You do the math. Look! It's the first double-dip of the trip! So, getting to Akihabara was actually really easy! It's really impressive how smoothly the trains operate in Japan, and it's especially easy when you've got a JR Pass. It also helped that R&E sent us online maps of the train lines in Tokyo. So, for those of you who don't already know, Akihabara is basically the "electronics district" of Tokyo. But to people like me, Akihabara is the nerd capital of the world! You want some manga and anime? They've got tons! Retro video games? They've got you covered! Wanna go to a sweet arcade? You're in urban Japan; of course there are arcades! Do you want a lewd figurine of your favorite anime character? Well, um, yes they do have those as well…. Oh, and they have maid cafés too. I never ended going to one, but rest assured, they have them! In the melée that is Tokyo, I somehow ended up stumbling across Dan right in front of this peculiarly named donut shop (which, coincidentally, I had seen in a vlog before). At Dan's recommendation (and after enjoying a donut), I went into an adjacent electronics store. This wasn't your granddad's electronics store, though; this was a multilevel bonanza of everything the modern hobbyist could ever need! I mean, I don't know how good the conditions are in Tokyo, especially at this time of year, but they've got your stargazing needs taken care of! They call him "Bling Boy" Sure, you could just buy one, but you'd really be doing yourself a disservice in not buying the complete set for the whole effect. "Okay, okay, I'll make you a deal: ¥40,000/hr. AND I'll throw in some blow as well! How's that sound?" Butt jigglers Tower Records is still very much a thing in Japan! And I dig the attitude! They had a nice little selection of LPs here, but I wasn't too keen on finding a place in my suitcase for one for the rest of the trip. After even more perusing through Akihabara, I took a short ride to Ochanomizu, which is a neighborhood known for having many instrument shops. I didn't stay for too long, but there were indeed quite a few of them! I was talking to one of the employees who worked at a guitar store, telling him about the tour, and he said how Ochanomizu was a "theme park of guitars." It's a pretty accurate statement! Definitely a place to go if you're a musician! By this point, I was ready for a midday rest, so I headed on back to the hotel. Tokyo Tower After resting awhile, I decided to head back out to Tokyo Tower—one of the landmarks of the Tokyo skyline. One of the most impressive aspects of Tokyo is how safe it is. I felt perfectly fine walking through this deserted street at night. It's also remarkably quiet for such a dense city. It's like a giant laser used to blast down alien spacecraft On the way, I decided to take a detour through an empty park—another thing I wouldn't dare do in other cities—and I caught a glimpse of this Buddhist temple through the trees! [youtu_be] [/youtu_be]As I neared the temple I noticed there was a free concert going on! I didn't catch the name of the singer, but she was singing some Bruno Mars when I got there. This whole experience was a great surprise! Even with its lights off, Tokyo Tower is still an impressive sight! Tokyo Tower was celebrating its semicentennial, and those pink butt plugs couldn't be happier! Now, I had thought that this would be a very normal event—namely, an elevator-centric one (you see where this is going). But, as it turns out, Tokyo Tower offers you the chance to climb up and down the stairs from the bottom all the way to the observation deck nearly 500 ft. up…. Unfortunately for me, I am not fit to climb 150 meters straight up. Fortunately for you, I am an idiot. The whole process was surreal. It involved going on top of the base building; once I was was there, I looked around to see there was no one up there…. It turns out I had to go around the corner to find the foot of the stairs. This felt like the strangest drug deal ever, and the dealer was none other than… …a pink butt plug. Well, okay, a guy dressed as a butt plug. But he wasn't wearing a bulky mascot costume; no, he was wearing a pink spandex bodysuit with some weird cone on his head underneath the suit. As if this weren't unsettling enough, when I walked up to him, he was completely motionless, standing akimbo with the craziest of smiles on his face. It wasn't until a few seconds after I'd reached him that he suddenly sprung into life and started giving his spiel on the journey upwards. I should've taken a selfie with him, but I was a bit too bemused to do anything but walk. And walk I did. Thankfully, it was still kind of cool out from the day before, in addition to it being nighttime. Once again, I regret not taking any pictures of the climb, but, honestly, my mind was focusing all its energy on making sure I didn't keel over. Boy, was it tough. But man, look at that view! It really does look like it goes on forever…. Here I am being an absolute madman, just standin 500 feet above the ground like it's nbd. Beautiful, simply beautiful…. Honestly Tokyo Tower was a great experience! It was beautiful, exciting, and much cheaper than I expected (less than ten bucks)! It is a must if you ever come to Tokyo! Show this off to your friends This was kind of unnecessary, but I appreciate it all the same. praise jeebus So, that was my day out on the town! But it was time now to get some sleep; tomorrow would be our first Shinkansen! Up next: Osaka!
  18. This is gonna be a bit of a shorter report…. Day 3.2: Sea Paradise For our next park, we took one of these things down to the southernmost part of Yokohama. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA By this point, the rain had lightened considerably, but it was still pretty chilly out—chillier than you might expect for summertime in Japan. Well, these guys are clearly very honest with their image! (Although it does say "Family Restaurant" below it….) b0rd Sea Paradise only has one credit, but it's a fun one: Surf Coaster Leviathan. Appropriately enough, much of the coaster juts out over the water. [youtu_be] [/youtu_be]Surf Coaster used to have OtSRs, but thankfully they replaced those with lap bars, so the ride is quite comfortable overall, although the seats are a bit small. The ride itself isn't too intense, but it's more fun than, say, your average jet coaster. At certain points throughout the ride, they would fire these big water cannons up into the air, and, depending on where you sat, you might have gotten a couple drops on you! [youtu_be] [/youtu_be]Next we did the fan-favorite Blue Fall, which is one of the tallest drop towers in the world! By the time we had come around to it, though, they were only running one side—one with the "fake-out" drop. While it was novel, I prefer the normal single-drop mode, because the fake-out doesn't let you build up the butterflies in your stomach that you normally get from these things. On another note, the ride ops handed out these orange vests to, I guess, protect from oil that might be dripping of the ride from the rain(?) This train, bored of the straight-and-narrow life of the tracks, sought out a new life on the open road. Lastly, a few of us decided to do this big wooden obstacle course thing where you crawl through ropes and narrow passages trying to collect stamps on a card. I got most of them, but I got stuck by the end of it. We had originally planned to do the Splashchute, but this whole maze thing took us way longer than we'd expected, so the ride had closed by that point. And since it looks to be shutting down for good, I guess I'll never get to ride it Okay, so story time: As Barry, Steve, Jason, and I were heading back to the train, we crossed over a bridge. Suddenly, out of nowhere, there's this whooshing sensation and some commotion to my left. I then looked ahead to see that a big-ass eagle or something had swooped down and stolen Jason's TPR poncho! I guess it'd thought it was a rabbit or something? Anyway, I probably could've taken pictures of the scene, but, frankly, I was just too damn floored by the situation to do anything! I just hope that eagle made good use of that poncho…. So after that ordeal, it was time to move on. Some on the tour group decided to go to a shrine further down south, but my group decided it was time to head on back and get prepped for the tour to start in full…. Overall, Sea Paradise is a nice little park to visit if you find yourself in the Yokohama area, although it's not the must-see that Cosmoworld is. Next up: more Tokyo! I'll be going to Akihabara and Tokyo Tower!
  19. We had gotten lucky with the weather so far—maybe some clouds and overcast, but nothing too serious. Today was kind of the other side of summertime in Japan: cool and rainy. But that wouldn't stop us! Day 3.1: Yokohama Cosmoworld (and some of the surrounding area) Yokohama is just south of Tokyo, but you'd be forgiven for thinking you were still in Tokyo… …just look at that skyline! This right here is the Yokohama Landmark Tower, the fourth tallest structure in Japan at 972 feet! (It looks way taller in person!) But we weren't here to gawk at architecture… …we were here for the famous Cosmoworld! Now, it had been predicted that it would start raining right around this time, and, sure enough, a few drops started falling as we headed towards the park. It seems even the weather's punctual in Japan! Luckily, we had Mr. Kitagawa on our side! Mr. Kitagawa's from Senyo and has a high profile in the Japanese park biz, and he's a longtime friend of TPR's! [youtu_be] [/youtu_be]The first thing they wanted to show off was this funky little VR thing. Unfortunately, the ride has a below-American weight limit, so I didn't end up riding. [youtu_be] [/youtu_be]Our next session was on the ever-popular "airtime log flume." What I didn't know was that they had added this thing that measures the volume of your screams and puts them on a scoreboard! I'm happy to say that Sporty Steve and I were the leaders (for all of 30 seconds)! The ride itself is pretty fun, although I ended up getting wetter from the rain rather than the ride! The narration on the Ferris wheel said that it's the largest Ferris wheel in the world… with a clock on it. I suppose only the Japanese would care about that record! Photo by Robb Finally, it was time for the world-famous Diving Coaster: Vanish! Now, normally the ride wouldn't run in rain, but Mr. Kitagawa was determined to let us get in our rides, so thanks to him! [youtu_be] [/youtu_be]And here it is: one of the biggest pieces of clickbait from any coaster! Real talk, though: The ride itself is nothing special and is even bumpy inside the tunnel, but it's not bad by any means. After the ERT was over, Mr. Kitagawa gave us all these surprisingly realistic keychains of various Japanese foodstuff! We were then free to do whatever we wanted until moving on to the next park, and since it was still raining, checking out the indoor attractions seemed more than reasonable. See, Cosmoworld isn't just an outdoor amusement park; it also has a multilevel arcade with dark rides alongside it! Neat Their dark rides are pretty funky. One is a "scary" ride in a cage, and another is an "augmented reality" ride where you tap these "smoke monsters" onscreen to kill them. I don't know what to think of the augmented reality; I think it kinda distracts from the rest of the ride. But hey, I got this lil guy from one of 'em! After all that, a couple of us decided to go on the giant Ferris wheel. Of course, you've got your usual capsules, but there was a twist: …some of them were clear! The viewing conditions weren't the best, predictably, but you're at least provided some cloths to wipe off any condensation. I'll have to do this at night at some point! After crossing the water to whore out the kiddie coaster (the spinning coaster was closed), we decided to walk around the surrounding area of downtown Yokohama and try and find some food. Now, none of us were too interested in the Hard Rock Cafe, but that metal sculpture's pretty cool! There's also this cool dry dock that you can now go inside! It looks like some sort of Roman amphitheater in this state…. Photo by Barry "ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED!?" We went into the Yokohama Landmark Tower to find ourselves some grub. Once again, I don't think pictures do this plaza any justice! We ended up going to a French restaurant (there's a surprising amount in Japan), where I got a pretty damned good pizza. After lunch, it was time to head back to the station to go to our next park. Cosmoworld may not be a huge park with 10/10 rides, but its location is absolutely stunning, and it's well worth a visit, although I'd recommend going at night! Next up: Sea Paradise!
  20. Day 2.3: Exploring Tokyo Tokyo is the largest metropolis in the world; when the whole Greater Tokyo Area is taken into account, it has a population of over 38 mil.—bigger than all of Canada. At the center of it all, downtown Tokyo has grown into a bustling maze of skyscrapers; train tracks; crowded streets and walkways; neon lights; and more shops, bars, and restaurants than one could ever hope to visit. And to top it all off, the city's cultural output has been far-reaching for decades. Point is, I was ecstatic. After Toshimaen, we were free to do whatever we wanted. While a trip back to the hotel wouldn't have been uncalled for, it certainly would've been a waste passing up this opportunity to roam the streets of Tokyo City itself. Besides, we were clear on the other side of the city anyway! Ikebukuro Ikebukuro is a district in Toshima Ward. While not the most famous area we'd be going to… …it's still jam-packed with cool stuff! Just look at the view outside the station! After getting a rundown from Robb and Elissa, we were on the prowl…. You know, I'd gone to NYC a few years back, but Tokyo really pulls out all the stops when it comes to sensory overload. What other city outside Japan would have multiple giant Sega arcades?? Naturally, we went into an arcade, so of course we had to pay a visit to our favorite membranophonic friends! This is some bizarre rhythm(?) game. These guys were insane at it! [youtu_be] [/youtu_be]This arcade has a casino on the second floor, and it had this strange horse racing… thing… which I guess you bet on?? It was nearing dinnertime, so we decided to go looking for a good place for ramen. It wasn't a hard task. (I didn't take any photos of it, but rest assured, it was good!) Huh, quite a lot lot of Starbucks 'round these parts, isn't there…? Cool karaoke tower After dinner, we decided to move on to our next destination… Shinjuku Shinjuku is essentially the "capital" of Tokyo, although that can be a little hard to discern because it's just as brightly colored as everywhere else! It's also arguably the "sketchiest" part of Tokyo (read: still safer than the U.S.) and is the home of the city's red light district. But a few hookers can't stop us intrepid gaijin! It's hard not to be impressed by the spectacle of dozens of stores and such duking it out for attention We even saw the Tourism Ambassador of Shinjuku! Oh, you thought I was joking…. "Lemme offer you a deal: 4 girls, whatever you want, ¥50,000 an hour. How's about it, ey?" Sadly, we had to decline the old kaiju's offer; we still had more places to hit! Harajuku Harajuku is one of the most well-known spots in all of Tokyo and is famous for being arguably the kawaii capital of the world. The district is particularly notable for its more extreme fashion scene, especially in the 2000s. Look it up; you'll see what I mean. So, this was the first thing we saw stepping out of the station…. It turns out you could do tours of a few Japanese cities via Mario Kart! I would've needed an international driver's permit, but Taylor did this if you wanna check out his TR! Unfortunately (and unsurprisingly), the company doing this got C&D'd by Nintendo and so won't be continuing with the Mario theme. RIP [youtu_be] [/youtu_be]Also, there was this DJ guy. And here's the backbone of it all: Takeshita Street! Random "ghetto-style" wall for people to look badass by Wow! This store just don't give a gosh dang flippin' heck! Shibuya Okay, so we were technically already in Shibuya, but what this ward's really known for is its giant crosswalk (supposedly the biggest in the world, as a matter of fact!) So we headed further along until we reached what is essentially the Times Square of Tokyo. We never actually crossed, but the view was enough: Ah, who am I kidding? The whole city's a giant Times Square! And that's probably the most striking thing about Tokyo: Everywhere you go, there are bright lights and amazing sights! I think everyone should come here at least once in their life! Next up: Yokohama Cosmoworld!
  21. Day 2.2: Toshimaen Toshimaen definitely ended up being the "sleeper hit" of the trip for me (and I think some others as well). Read on to see why…. Photo by Robb For our next park, we backtracked into Tokyo. So, Toshimaen was one of the smaller, quirkier parks of trip; I might've even skipped over it had I gone by myself…. However, once I saw the random Teddy on the park map, I knew I was in for a good time! (As it turns out, Toshimaen was doing an American theme). Photo by Robb And what's more American than Pokémon? Unfortunately, the Arrow corkscrew the down for day (well, the jury's still out on whether or not that was actually unfortunate), but that's fine, 'cause the real star of this park is Cyclone, an old Togo coaster. It may not look like much—it is essentially a "jet coaster" after all—but it's actually a really fun ride! It helps that the seats are lined with comfy velvet that make it feel like you're whizzing along on a sofa. [youtu_be] [/youtu_be]Despite not being the most outwardly impressive ride, Cyclone still manages to have quite a few moments of airtime. However, I think the real kicker is how close you come to your surroundings; if you raise your hands, you're liable to smack a few leaves. (Also, check the guy sitting sideways!) Photo by Robb Cyclone has a "mini version," so of course we weren't above a little whoring! ("Hell yeah, I think?") One of the charming aspects of Toshimaen is how many of the rides are up on buildings and stacked on top of one another. Take these dueling pirate ships for example: These things were massive, and their placement added to that! They also had another, smaller "pirat" ship; I wonder if they ever need that much capacity…. This is where the Japanese get their devil's lettuce They even have a powered coaster on a roof! There's also a decent long flume here. Photo by Robb This maze is so disorienting that we got lost before we even entered! One of the more unique attractions was this oversized playground with some "exercise equipment," for lack of a better term, as well as… [youtu_be] [/youtu_be]…roller slides! Nothin' like a high-speed ass massage! Me being the beefy boy I am, I had enough momentum to shoot off the end and right onto my ass! So you want mini bumper cars for your park…. Why wouldn't you theme it to sushi? After seemingly no time at all, it was time to head out. There were other attractions which I could talk about more, like their funny little ghost train, but I hope I showed off this park's worth to you; I would gladly go again! Next up: We'll be exploring downtown Tokyo, hitting Ikebukuro, Shinjuku, Harajuku, and Shibuya!
  22. Thanks for the positive comments so far! Day 2.1: Tobu Zoo Today would be a much busier day than the previous one; we'd be hitting two parks and exploring Tokyo afterwards. Image via Robb The day began with a longer couple of train rides north to neighboring Saitama Prefecture. After getting off, it was just a bit of a walk to our destination. (I should've taken some pictures of the walk; it's through this cozy suburb with little rice fields!) We were, as you know by now, on our way to Tobu Zoo! Photo by Robb "Who's ready to see some animals? and ride some rides, I guess…" The hippo exhibit is really fascinating. As you can see, you can almost reach out and touch them! Unfortunately, these hippos just kinda stood there doing nothing. "Africa's most dangerous animal"? Pfft, yeah right…. Photo by Robb Of course, the main attraction here is Kawasemi, the first-ever Intamin Mega-Lite! "Kawasemi" (lit. "river cicada") means "kingfisher" in Japanese, which seems about right for such a small-but-thrilling ride like this. Photo by Robb Admittedly, being that this was in the morning, the ride was moving a little sluggish (to use an animal term). Photo by Robb But it's still a really solid ride overall! I may prefer the spine-stretching airtime of, say, a Lightning Run, but Kawasemi's absolutely worth at least a few rides! The park mascot lookin like he bumped a few too many lines Next we rode everyone's favorite animal… a woman? (I dunno what they were going for here). This turned out to be an OK woodie—not too rough, but not particularly eventful either. [youtu_be] [/youtu_be]Look at that river cicada go! Tobu Zoo's Ferris wheel is themed to cheese (because "cheese wheel" hahaha). This here is most of the "ride section" of the park. The other half is taken up mostly by the actual zoo! There's a really nice variety of animals here, but, if I'm being honest, I do wish the enclosures were at least a little bigger (but, hey, I live right next to the Columbus Zoo, so maybe I'm spoiled). Worn out after a long session with Siegfried & Roy Whoa, hey Simba, watch where you're swingin' those things! What would Nala say? Or Timon, for that matter? "It ain't easy bein' cheesy" "Haven't you seen enough cats yet?" (No) One of the more unique exhibits at the zoo: cassowaries A little backstory for later: Tobu Zoo has been doing a deal for a while now with Kemono Friends, a popular franchise which features anthropomorphized animals. Here we see the cassowary character. Isn't she just the cutest!? Look at this foppish lad Just tryna keep cool Gotta say, this guy looked a little agitated. Old man "Oh my gahd! Ey Tony, get a lookit dese tings outside da window! Dey look like dat half-digested crap dat our muddas used ta feed to us when we were little!" OK, now for one of the things I was personally excited for…. The Saga of Grape-kun: So, in 2017, an old Humboldt penguin by the name of Grape-kun had recently been scorned by his longtime lover. He was distraught until he met a new penguin by the name of Hululu. The thing is, Hululu wasn't real; no, Hululu was just the cardboard cutout of a character from the aforementioned Kemono Friends. But he was truly enamored with his 2D waifu, staying by her side at all times. Unsurprisingly, our little avian friend became a worldwide sensation, inspiring mountains of fan art and garnering the affection of the Japanese public. Unfortunately, Grape-kun passed away later that year from old age. But the park honored him with a new cutout of him cavorting alongside his true sweetheart. May you slay that sweet anime tang in the afterlife, little dude…. "I want a nice anime waifu :c" Our boy even got a shrine dedicated to him. Rest in peace, you magnificent bastard. Anyway, it was almost time to go, so we started heading back towards the gate. On the way, we checked out this weird maze thing where you pick up a weight at the beginning, go through a really disorienting mirror maze, and then pick out a metal ball with the same weight as the one from the beginning. (I got it first try, of course ). Of all their animal exhibits, this one was surely the most exotic. Photo by Robb One more ride for good measure Overall, Tobu Zoo's a quaint little park which is definitely worth a visit if you wanna do something outside the bustle of downtown Tokyo. Next up: Toshimaen
  23. I woke up early the next morning. Taking a peek outside, I saw that it was pretty light out, but looking at the clock, I realized it wasn't even 5:00 yet. One thing I hadn't accounted for was that Japan's position and lack of DST made sunrises and sunsets nearly two hours earlier than I'm used to in Ohio. I found it kind of amusing how the "Land of the Rising Sun" has its sunrises at such ungodly hours of the morning. But now wasn't the time for inane observations; I needed more rest, because today was… Day 1: Yomiuriland Yes, our first park of the trip! Well, technically this was a pre-trip add-on; the tour wouldn't start in earnest until a few days after, but how could I have missed out on this!? I finally felt somewhat human again after getting some sleep, and so we were off! Yomiuriland is just south of Tokyo proper and a fairly short ride from Shinagawa. The park is up on a big hill (actually, a lot of these parks were) and gives a great view of the surrounding area, including downtown Tokyo! Usually, you can take a gondola up the hill, but we got there before it opened to do some filming on Bandit… …so we opted for our first taxi ride of the trip! And there she is—the first ride of the trip: Bandit! They were doing a little gimmick this year where they would stop the train at the top of the lift hill for about 10 seconds before sending you on your way. During that pause, you would be treated to a fantastic view of Tokyo! Photo from Robb's TR "We out here" Photo courtesy of Robb As I'm sure you're well aware, Bandit is a Togo—a large one at that. But despite the uncomfortable seats (clearly not made for chubby Americans), the ride is actually very fun! It's really no jankier than your average Arrow stateside, and you get some surprising jolts of airtime as you go whizzing through the trees and valleys. Photo via Robb A seriously good way to start out the trip! We then moved on to the park's new fashion-themed Gerstlauer spinning coaster. I didn't get any photos of it (it was indoors, after all), but if you see Robb's video of it, you can see how quirky it is, with its dark ride section and bizarre Flappy Bird-esque game on the lift hill. Another ride I unfortunately didn't photograph was their wacko instant ramen-themed raft ride. This thing was really fun, as it has you flying down chutes and spirals as you attempt to… save… the ramen, I guess?? The plot was kinda lost on us, but honestly, that's part of the magic of these foreign rides. They also had this weird ball run course thing After riding their S&S drop tower and new Disk'O ride, it was time for our next credit: Momonga Standing and Loop Coaster! This ride has a transfer track-style station with one sitting train and one standing train… and, of course, it's a Togo! [youtu_be] [/youtu_be]I've never been a huge fan of Togo stand-ups, and this one is no real exception, but the sit-down side is actually really smooth! Their Ferris wheel offered some nice views, but boy was it a sauna in there! The capsules didn't have AC (unlike many of the other Ferris wheels we went on), but they at least provided some plastic fans for us. (You can kind of see where White Canyon once stood; there's a sick part of me that wishes it were still there). No comment "Me am angwy piwate. Me am steal your doubwoons." So, I didn't take as many pics here as I would've liked, but there were some other cool attractions here, like the funky little one-lane go-karts and the pedaled "coaster." Overall, Yomiuriland's a really nice park with some solid attractions in a nice location. Photo via Robb Anyway, it was time to leave, and this time we were taking the gondola! The rest of the evening for me was spent getting more rest in—I was still exhausted. Unfortunately, I ended up missing the bowling match the others were having (which I totally would've WRECKED), but oh well, c'est la vie…. Next up: Tobu Zoo
  24. ^Ah, I knew this wouldn't go smoothly first shot. Should be good now.
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