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TR- bert has a Spooktacular time with TPR in Japan!

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An opportunity made itself available to me earlier this year, to travel in Japan with Robb & Elissa during their October trip. Culminating with multiple days at Tokyo Disneyland/DisneySea.


Japan, and in particular, Tokyo Disneyland / Tokyo DisneySea have long been bucket-list things for me.


If I’m being completely honest, the TOP of my “bucket-list”, but I never dreamed I would have the opportunity due to my Spouse’s aversion to traveling outside of North America (as well as his physical limitations that would prevent a trip of this magnitude. Nevermind the amount of walking involved and the dealing with crowds. . no way could he handle the minimum 15 hours of Travel time it would take to get to Tokyo from Texas).


So when the opportunity presented itself, tho I immediately wanted to jump at it? I needed to consider. But the universe wanted it to happen:


1) my Father, out of the blue, cashed in a CD and sent me some $$ (the same day!), which was more than enough to cover all expenses for the tip, as well as enough spending money to really enjoy.


2) my Spouse, tho he knew he couldn’t possibly come along (see above physical limitations), said he knew that visiting Tokyo Disney was a dream of mine, and that this was the time to go for it.

Especially him knowing I’m as big a fan of Halloween things as I am a Disney fan.

He wasn’t thrilled with the idea of being home alone for 2 ½ weeks, but encouraged me to go for it.


3) my passport was still valid for just over 6 months until after the end of the trip.


So who am I to say “no” to the Universe when it’s so obvious that I should say yes?

So I quickly accepted the opportunity, despite having never been out of North America, and started to get myself psyched up for Japan. In October. With Parks (Universal & Disney in particular) set up for Halloween goodness!


I took over 8500 pictures, and tho I’ve been back for a couple of weeks now, I’ve just now started to go thru them. I promise I won’t post all of them, LOL (I take multiples to try and get a good one).

I’ll also try my best to stay on top of this TR, and update at least every few days.


My *huge* thanks to Robb & Elissa, for allowing me to join along with them on this October adventure.

And it was wonderful to spend time with friends I knew, as well as new friends I made, during this absolutely once-in-a-lifetime adventure.


I really do hope all these folks truly get how appreciative I am for this trip, and for the time spent with every one of them. It was absolutely life changing getting to experience the Culture, the Beauty, and the Halloween Decorations in Japan.


I was open to trying many, many new things as we made our way across Japan (and other than two things, most things I tried were incredible – even the Horse Sashimi).


And tho I had absolutely no shame in using my “trainers” – much to the amusement of the Tokyo locals early in the trip. . by the 2nd week during the Gyoza & Yakisoba making class, I was able to use chopsticks – if not exactly as intended, at least well enough to not embarrass myself. So see? It really was life changing


Will try to get 1st day of travel and arrival in Japan up by end of weekend!


looking forwards to sharing my photos & experiences with the fine folks at TPR!



my "trainers". . that my favorite local Sushi restaurant gifted to me, when they found out I was about to be spending 16 days in Japan.


(after making fun of me that I was going to starve, since I always use a fork when at this particular restaurant).


By the back end of the trip, wasn't using them anymore.


and, yes, I've been to the Sushi place since I got back. they were SUPER impressed that i gained weight while in Japan (LOL), and that I was able to make it thru a meal without needing the fork they brought me anyways.


the majority of the things I brought back, once I finally got around to unpacking the other day.

some of these were gifts for folks, but most of it are things purchased for me/us.

Edited by bert425
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after months of planning, it was finally the day to fly - Friday, 10/4. So I was up at an insanely early hour (2:30 am), to be ready to head to the airport for my morning flight.


it was going to be a heck of a travel day, but was hoping to be able to nap on the plane - something that turned out to be something I'm not really able to do. Even as tired as I already was, since I hadn't slept much anyways, being so excited for my trip.


my day was going to be a 4 1/2 hour flight from Austin to Seattle, then an 11 1/2 hour flight from Seattle to Tokyo.


I had booked my flight months earlier, and tho I had paid the extra ~$150 for the upgrade to "comfort plus" - which would have given me ~3" of extra leg room for the longer flight to Japan?


Delta had changed planes for the longer flight back in June, and the new plane type didn't offer the "comfort plus" upgrade area - so instead they had bumped me to "Premium Select", a fantastic deal that included many more perks (reclining larger seat with a footrest, and plated hot meals, as well as some other things) for no additional charge as I had already paid for the initial upgrade.


So I was ready to go!


the Austin airport was pretty dead this early, so had baggage checked and thru security in less than 10 minutes. Helped immensely by my ticket being flagged "Premium Select" which let me bypass the long luggage drop off lines.


I even totally forgot to take off my belt at security, but that didn't slow me down at all (I didn't realize until I was going thru the metal detectors, and TSA didn't say anything. . . so I guess I was starting off the trip with some good Mojo).


It was so early none of the coffee shops were even open yet, so had to wait a bit to let me get some, hence looking a little sleepy.


the Delta gates are in the newest terminal they built at Austin-Bergstrom Intl. airport, and as we usually fly Southwest (other side of the terminals), this was all new to me.


it was cool to see the amount of artwork, and Austin specific displays up in the Terminal.


dead this early. very cool with the Austin businesses only in the Terminal - tho would have been nice to have a Starbucks. . Ruta Maya Coffeehouse is a nice local alternative.


The new terminal area does look like a big box warehouse store, when it's this early and so dead tho.


Once I had upgraded for the longer flight, Delta started sending me offers for an upgrade for this 1st flight. I had not planned to upgrade, but once the option for "Comfort +" dropped below $70, I went ahead and did it, figuring it would be a longish flight, so might as well. Besides, I got to board early, and even tho only a few extra inches of leg room? I would treat myself .. I was on an adventure.


Here I am on my 1st flight ( 4 1/2 hours) from Austin to Seattle.


my good trip mojo continued, and I had the entire row to myself for this flight, and spent a good amount of time reading and chatting with the Stewardess. (didn't watch any movies, as the earphones they gave me weren't really comfortable - but at least they were free for this section).


as were the drinks - which I hadn't realized.


I'm not a big drinker, but I do love me a decent Bloody Mary. I didn't partake in any of the "snacks" offered on this flight other than a banana and a pack of nuts, but I did have several drinks.


(tho really, for a 4 1/2 hour flight, it's absurd that they aren't serving any kind of "meal". . . packs of cheeze nips seemed to be the offering for the majority of the plane).


we arrived about 20 minutes earlier than intended in Seattle, and I had ~ 2 hour layover. But consider me shocked when I deplaned at S16, and discovered the gate for my connecting flight, S15, was actually right next door!


that's never happened to me before on a trip.


this was starting out well.


I called home, spoke to spouse, got a Vanilla Mocha (Starbucks, yay!), and hung out in the area reading until it was time to board for my flight to Japan.


things were going so smoothly thus far.


and now on board the 2nd, and much longer, flight to head to Japan!


since they had bumped me to Premium Select, my larger seat (that reclined and had the footrest), also came stocked with a goodie bag that included a sleep mask, toothbrush, earplugs, comb, etc), as well as a pillow, blanket, nice full set of headphones (for movie watching), and some other additional "perks"


such as champagne upon being seated. . . how Bougie!


seriously, this kind of spoiled me for any future long flights!


they even gave some slippers, which I did end up putting on as soon as those around me took off their shoes and slipped into them.


I felt a bit out of place, like I was somewhere I wasn't supposed to be.. but man, could I get used to this kind of treatment! LOL


the Steward came by to pick up the Champagne glasses and handed out menus , to show what we'd be served during the long flight.


It turned out I can't sleep on a plane, even as tired as I may have been - I was simply too excited.

if I HAD tried to sleep? it wouldn't have mattered, as they kept coming by and offering food/drinks, and even waking folks up to serve them meals. So Delta just kept me full, fat, and happy for the long flight.


I ended up spending time watching a lot of movies, some good (Toy Story 4, the Wandering Earth, Ask Dr. Ruth), some Decent (Curse of La Llorna, Godzilla, Fyre Fraud), and some terrible (The Dead Don't Die, a few others I gave up on and don't recall)


this was the 1st meal service.


i had the Sauteed Shrimp from the Japanese menu - which I started eating before I remembered to take a pic (which is why some shrimp are gone).


it may, or may not, have been due to the continuation of the Bloody Mary drinking from the earlier flight. . . LOL


and they didn't even offer me chopsticks, so I happily used the fork provided. It was really impressive how good it was for "airline food"


In between meals, the Stewards came by with snacks, ice cream, lots of drinks, and other things to much on.


This is the later meal service, about an hour before we landed - Truffle, leek, and Mushroom Fritatta.


also decent.


starting our descent, and leaning over to get a pic out the window of Japan.


I'm not on the ground yet, but really can't believe I'm here.


but exiting the plane, going towards Customs & Immigration, I'm greeted by Mario.


who confirms. Yes, I AM here in Japan!


Immigration and Customs were a breeze.


Despite a full plane, and a lot of folks coming thru from other planes, the fabled Japanese efficiency was on display. I think I waited *maybe* 10 minutes to get thru Immigration and grab my checked luggage. and Customs was even quicker than that.


before I knew it, I was out of the main terminal, and almost to the Bus Ticket Counter, where I would buy my ticket to get to the Hotel Meetup point.


I had been following along with Robb & Elissa on their flight, and knew they were landing just ~20 minutes after my flight. With my nervousness about my 1st time in a new Country, and with Elissa's blessing, I waited for them just outside of Customs so that I could tag along with them to the Hotel in Tokyo that would be base-camp for the 1st few days of the trip.


The airport has a lot of things under construction, but no impact to how quickly and efficient everything is running. I'd assume much of the construction are improvements for the upcoming 2020 Olympics.


here I am with the mascot logos for the Tokyo Games.


and before I knew it? here came the Alveys!


it was such a relief to be with such seasoned Japan travellers, so I could just do what they did, to ensure I got the correct bus ticket to make it to the hotel.


I'm sure I would have eventually figured it out (Elissa had provided really good instructions), but i was so dang giddy about being in Japan (and at this point having been up over 20 hours), that it was a true godsend to be able to meet up at the airport to book the hour+ bus to get from Narita airport to the Hotel.


from the Bus pick up area, even the waiting spot at the Airport is lovely with a nice water feature.


and of course, Shellie Mae was with them - which I knew from Robb's twitter posts from earlier that day, showing their travels thru the airports.


the bus was unlike most buses I'd been on in America.


very roomy, impeccably clean, with a restroom


it offered free Wi-Fi too, but I didn't spend much time online (only to check in at home and relay I was on way to hotel). . mainly I took *way* too many pictures of Japan, thru the bus window on the way to Tokyo.


the rolling Countryside looked very much like some places in America - tho the "solar farm" with tons of panels is not something one often sees in the States


settled in at my window seat, and in awe of how nice everything is.


tho some areas really did remind me of the views I had last seen while in Hawaii many years ago.


Starting to come into the more populated / city areas, these sound barriers started appearing on the side of the highway. Including some wonderful signs shushing folks due to sleeping children in surrounding buildings (at least I assume that's what they were trying to get across. . maybe no honking?).


Tho didn't hear a single honking horn the whole bus trip.. or, come to think of it, the whole time I was in Japan. i don't even know if the cars have usable horns, since everyone was so polite even while driving that there wasn't any honking.


it's not a bullet train, but it's the first train I've seen in Japan, as we were coming into the more urban areas. so took a few pics of it.


train, with some really interesting architecture behind it in that building.



and what's that I see up there on the right?


why it's the 1st (of MANY MANY) Ferris Wheels I would see while in Japan.

and I would ride a lot of them too, but not this one. . .


didn't stop me from taking pictures of it while passing it tho.


at first I thought this was Tokyo Tower - which is something I actually never made it to see during the trip (guess I have to go back now, right??).


but it's actually the Tokyo SkyTree - another structure I personally didn't make it to. Although I did see it a few times.


EDIT: HMMMM. . looking at this pic, is it possible I have both Tokyo Tower *AND* Tokyo Skytree in one picture?


that certainly looks like the Toyko Tower color scheme just to the right of the window bar. . . and I know they aren't that far away from each other.




Better shot of the immense Tokyo Skytree from the bus window.


and we passed another giant Ferris Wheel before we got into Tokyo city proper. This one was impressive too, tho I do believe some of the other Ferris Wheels (that I actually rode during the trip) are larger.


Coming off the highway, to drop some folks off at the hotel stop before ours, there were some lovely canals and waterways.


attempted to get some pics of the tugs moving some barges thru the window.


some of the high-rises on the outer side of Tokyo. . we are headed in that direction for our Hotel, the Shinagawa Prince Hotel, which very much reminded me of a Vegas hotel complex - big, with lots of restaurants/activities (including an aquarium, indoor golf range, and a huge Pachinko parlor next door), and right across the street from the Shinagawa train station.



some of the many rails that criss cross, and snake thruout the city of Tokyo.


it's super impressive how all of this is managed and maintained without tons of incidents/accidents every day.


at the hotel, before checking in, I went for a potty break in the lobby bathroom.


as I noted at the time, I'm not so sure about using a toilet with a warning label on the lid!


so I was wary, with a capitol W. . so many buttons! LOL


but(t) after using these bidet style toilets just once? I am in love with them and absolutely would welcome one into my house. In fact, I'd prefer one, I liked them that much.


up in the room, and just in time to check out the sunset over Tokyo!


this was the view from my room at the 1st Hotel.


looking to the right.


looking to the left


Looking straight out over Tokyo.


Beautiful sunset. . . and way off in the distance, in the clouds, is (I believe) Mt. Fuji.


although I had been up at this point over 24 hours, Elissa had offered to take those of us who had arrived already over to the Shinagawa Station to give a "newbie" tour of the station, and to get us set for our Rail Passes (which would be needed for the Shinkansen Bullet Trains).


So after relaxing for a little bit in the room, I headed down to meet in the lobby and we went over to Shinagawa Station.


it was a Saturday night, but it wasn't super crowded. (it wasn't empty tho either!), and I really appreciated the opportunity to get my feet wet in a more ideal situation than a morning or evening rush hour.


I took a lot of pics of the station to help myself with orientation, and how to get back to the hotel, since we'd be here for 5 nights.


just posting a handful to give a feel of the place. It's by no means a "small" station, but we ended up in several (such as Tokyo station) that absolutely dwarfed this one. . so the Shinagawa Station was a great "starter" station for a Japan newbie such as myself)


these are the doors we wanted to exit to go towards the Shinagawa Prince Hotel.


and this is the exit we wanted (the West Exit)


it was a very eye opening orientation tour, and I really appreciated Elissa taking the time to show us around the station, as well as pointing out several shops, interesting things near the hotel.


including McDonald's - where I had my 1st proper food in Japan. I got the fillet-O-Ebi (which was similar to Fillet o fish, but of pressed shrimp. . and was OH so good), and learned that "set" means "meal". . something that came in super useful thruout the trip.


I only got to eat at McDonald's once more during the trip, but that was to get a Happy Meal so I could bring back a "hello kitty" toy for a friend. Yeah. .that's why I ate at McDonald's again.


one of the things she mentioned was how great the 7-11's are (and all convenience stores) in Japan, in terms of carrying a wide variety of really good food options. Including Sushi.


This was not "Supermarket Sushi" in any way/shape/form, but really nicely done Onigiri, in many flavor options - and priced super reasonable. (I think they were under $2 American each). they were all good, as were any of the hot food options I tried during the trip.


most convenience stores also seemed to carry full aisles of bread/cake/donut options. Tho I did quickly discover that the Japanese Palate doesn't seem to favor super sweet things. .so the donuts and cakes tended more towards a bread pudding flavor than a sweet donut that Americans are used to (ie: nothing even close to a glazed Krispy Kreme in terms of sweetness).


this is something I picked up on a whim while stocking up on snacks for the room (we had a fridge), and yes, it looks like a hot dog bun dipped in chocolate.


Spoiler - that's EXACTLY what it was. A hot dog bun, with a squirt of Cafe Au Lait cream down the center, and then 1/2 dipped in Dark Chocolate.


it wasn't sweet, it wasn't nasty. . it just . . . . was.


I was happy I got to try it, and tho one try was enough (I didn't get another one this trip), I didn't throw any of it out. :)


back up to the room, after being up for almost 32 hours, I was starting to poop out. Especially once I ate my McDonalds, unpacked a few things, and ate the chocloate hotdog bun thing.


I knew I had to get to bed, since we were getting up in the morning to start off the full Japan adventure with a stop at La Qua to ride Thunder Dolphin - but not before taking a few pics out the window of Tokyo in the evening.


just beautiful. . the city was mesmerizing, and I had to tear myself away from the window to turn in.



but I did take a few pics of the room.


while not "large" it was a decent size, and quite comfortable.



the bathroom reminded me of a cruise ship, in that one had to step up into it - something that was true of several of the hotels we stayed in during our trip. I would guess it has something to do with the plumbing, the tub drainage, or the needed space for the toilet mechanisms. it was interesting, but I was way too tired at this point to wonder too much about it.


so with a quick shower, I hopped into bed, set the alarm to get up in the morning (to meet up with folks for the breakfast buffet) and close out my arrival day in Tokyo.

Edited by bert425
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Those chopstick trainers would have been a big help for me. I spent most of the trip paranoid I was going to stab my food and offend Japanese culture.


Great start!


I was determined NOT to do any stabbing. Tho as bad as I was using chopsticks, was really worried that I was gonna end up hungry a lot. . LOL. but the trainers (and the sheer amount of "finger food" such as the Onigiri) put me way more at ease, and let me enjoy myself more than worry about it.


and tho it took a few times, I eventually trained myself NOT to point with the chopsticks either.

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Welcome to Japan, Bert! Prince Shinagawa Hotel is a wonderful place to stay. And they have a killer breakfast buffet. Or used to, from what I remember in my past TPR visits. Did you ever get to try it? Or were there many early departures to parks etc? Great start of your trip, there. Looking forward to more.


btw, The swimming pool at the Hotel was pretty nice, too.

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Great start, I always love reading first timers trip reports!


Just an FYI - it is NOT Tokyo Tower in that picture with Sky Tree, they are on opposite sides of the city.


thanks for the info, Elissa.


I had been looking at Erik's pics from Tokyo Tower, and noticed the color scheme & design looked sorta similar to that tower on the right in my Skytree pic from the bus.


Guess I'll simply have to go back again at some point to check out the true Tokyo Tower



to others who have commented:

Thanks! Glad folks are enjoying the TR thus far. Lots and LOTS more to come. . . as got to do so much more than just visiting Theme Parks - the Himeji Castle was stunning. and discovering that we were in Osaka during day 2 of the LGBTQ Pride festival? yeah, that was a fun experience that I got to swing by to attend as well!


I forgot too, that I watched "Aladdin" on the flight over as well. Thought it was decent - good, but could have been great. Will Smith as the Genie kept pulling me out of the film (as in: hey, that's Will Smith as the Genie!). . but the rest of the cast was really, really good. I'd give the film a "B", and recommend it if you haven't seen it.

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When my friend and I went to Japan in 2017, he loved the toilets so much that he ordered a bidet attachment kit for his home throne via Amazon while we were still on the trip. It was waiting for him when we got back to the states. A rather common story you hear from travelers to Japan.

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Yay it's bert's Japan trip report! Looking forward to reliving the great trip, I know you took tons of great photos.


aw, thanks!


everyone took some great photos (the ones you/Allison/Alex have been posting on FB have been fantastic!).


Working on La Qua, and hope to have it up in the next hour or so.

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After a great night's sleep (well, at least 7-8 hours of it, since I had gone to bed early due to exhaustion. .but I woke up feeling super refreshed) I was wide awake by 6am.


If I had Jet-Lag on the trip, I didn't notice it really affecting me other than my waking up fairly early every morning. I had prepared to really be dragging, but the strong/bitter coffee in Japan really did keep me really perky, and not once on the trip did I need to take an afternoon nap.


Those of us who were at the Hotel already were going to start off the "Theme Park" portion of a TPR trip this morning at La Qua - Tokyo Dome. A place I knew mainly for "Thunder Dolphin" and the iconic dive thru the cut out on the top of the building in central Tokyo. I also knew that Japan parks seemed to have really strict weather policies, and if the rain came? things were going to shut down.


The weather was acting like it wasn't gonna be cooperating, but I crossed my fingers and said a little affirmation and prayer for someone I had been really worried about, and was ready to kick off my day.


The Hotel offered a great breakfast buffet, so I got dressed, and headed down to the lobby to meet up with friends whom had arrived after I had turned in last night.


Remember I said the Shinagawa Prince Hotel reminded me of a Vegas Hotel?


well, that comparison is reinforced by the lobby art - such as this impressive Stained Glass art display.


and the free-hanging sculpture over the main lounge area near check in.


not sure it photographed as impressive as it was in person, but it was just lovely.


the breakfast was included, and we had our choice of at least 6 restaurants in the Hotel Complex. . but following Elissa's recommendation from the night before - and more specifically her big thumbs up on the French Toast offered there - I think most all of us ended up eating at the buffet offered in the restaurant off the main lobby:


Luxe Dining Hapuna


It was so good, I never tried any other breakfast place. Hapuna offered a very large variety of both traditional Japanese, and more American fare (such as eggs, pasta, meatballs (consistently on every breakfast buffet I tried), and the mentioned French Toast, which was AMAZING. Kudos for the suggestion, Elissa!


I am a pretty adventurous eater regardless, but being in Japan? I was wide open to try pretty much anything, and did a lot of sampling of different options. Most all of them excellent to very good.


In this pic, there's a fine assortment on the left of Japanese options, and on the left, the lower part of the tray is L-R: French Toast, Chocolate Croissant, and Meatballs. Top row of tray has dumplings, and eggplant & Pickled vegetables (super popular side dishes in Japan, and always very, very good).


and I fell in love with the Melon Cola, which was offered here, and had quite a bit of it during our stay, tho it's not in this picture.


what IS in this picture, is the 1st of the two things I noted that I tried during my trip to Japan that I did NOT care for.


that's the upper left of the picture - the two "cubes" with the brown sauce





this were on the Desert Station, and they seemed to be super popular, so I tried it.


with a "black syrup" to pour over the top of them.



um. . . I knew from the moment I popped it in my mouth that it was a "no"


but I wasn't about to spit it out (besides, there really weren't a lot of napkins supplied - mainly just a wetnap to rinse one's hands is supplied at each meal). Jon could tell from my face that I didn't care for it. . LOL. . and he asked me what it tasted like?


My honest assessment, and I just got a PTSD flashback of the flavor thinking of it:


Dirt. with worms in it.



yeah. . did NOT care for this. at. all.


but I didn't spit it out. I forced myself to swallow, and was thankful that I still had the chocolate croissant and the melon soda to help rinse the taste out.


No, I did *not* eat the other piece I had taken (if you look at the prior picture, you can see I took two of them). . LOL


Even tho I had tried to cleanse my palate, I was still tasting the Warabimochi, so I was happy that we still had a few moments before heading out so I could pop upstairs and brush my teeth. LOL


was able to snap this pic in the mirror before heading back down too.


We walked across the street to the Shinagawa Station, and used our Suica cards (basically Metro cards to swipe in and out from the different lines in all the stations - since many stations have multiple lines running thru them and they all "charge" separately) to go thru the main gates for the Yamanote line, which is the big "loop" line that connects most of the major stations in Tokoy. So from the major stations, you can swipe out from one line, and swipe into a different line that connects to get all over the City - which is HUGE.


the train maps were incredibly overwhelming when we looked at them, but seriously, once we started using them it started to make a lot of sense, and became way less scary to travel around via train system.


(tho I fully admit that some of the connections from line to line, were like a scavenger hunt - searching for yellow signs that point to the line, and following them down deep hallways to come out in another hub area to search for the sign of where to go). I had it much easier, as was traveling with TPR for most cases. . so it was more a case of "don't lose Elissa" or one of the taller folks who had been to Japan before.


I loved the queuing format for the trains in Japan, and even tho it wasn't super crowded on this Sunday morning? on Workday mornings when the stations were packed? it's really impressive to see hundreds of people getting off the trains, and hundreds of people getting on the trains. .all in less than (it seemed) 30 seconds! People are polite and stand in horizontal queues on either side of the doors, so when the train stops, the folks exiting come out the middle of the space - and then immediately the horizontal queues drain INTO the train for those getting on.


quick, efficient, and no American-style "rush the doors as soon as the train stops blocking those from getting out" as I've seen in Atlanta, Washington, and New York when using the trains there.


here's Allison and Myself on that first morning (and this a rare pic of Allison, as there's not a Tokyo local sleeping on her, in this pic) :p


During a transfer of trains, looking up at some of the cool architecture in this particular station, as we walked thru it to another line.


Love Yourself banner in one of the trains. (to my eye, looked like a drag queen in the ad, so snapped a pic)


lots of advertising banners hanging in most all trains - along the walls, and down the center aisle too.


but also lots of very clear maps, and electronic signs advising of upcoming stops (both in English and Japanese). Super impressive how well oiled all these moving parts work and I think we only had one train delay the whole trip - and that was after the Typhoon, and still only running 10-15 minutes late.


not 100%, but pretty sure this was a poster in the Tokyo Dome Station, warning folks *not* to try to jump between the closing train doors to make the train.


and I'm here. . . someplace I'd only ever seen pictures of, or read trip reports on TPR about.


Tokyo Dome!


The sky is looking pretty overcast, and the coaster is not running yet - since we are here before opening - but that didn't stop me from getting chills (no really) from my first look at "Thunder Dolphin"


it looks so big with the buildings surrounding it.


better shot from the bridge crossing over the street.


the Long Walkway that goes under the lift-hill and drop for Thunder Dolphin, so one could not have to walk thru the La Qua park area, if one wanted to head to Tokyo Dome proper.


yep, since here's the more focused on lift hill/drop pic of Thunder Dolphin going thru the Big O


Pic courtesy of Robb. . the group getting excited upon arrival at La Qua Tokyo Dome


I really can't believe I'm here. .I usually don't look this happy unless I'm on a Carousel.


I loved all the little "quirky" elements around the main levels of this shopping/restaurant area. Those weird little balls holding up the railing are so alien.


and the park directory, in a "water droplet" . . I think?


(and if you zoom, you can see all the smiling faces reflected back in the glass - I see me, Trent, Allison, Jon, & Elissa).


for being in the center of a city, the Tokyo Dome City area is much bigger than I was expecting. We're in the "blue" area - where the flume,Ferris Wheel, Carousel, Coaster, and a couple of dark rides/ haunts are located. across the bridge in the Pink area are lots more shops/restaurants, an indoor coaster, 4D theater, lots more rides, including a Parachute drop, a swinging ship, and several gigantic indoor arcades.


we had a bit of time before the ticket booths opened so we wandered around the "mall" area looking at the shops and restaurants.


this was my first experience seeing the "plastic food" which many restaurants thruout the trip, had on display in the windows.


It's hard to decide what you want to eat when everything looks so good, and it can be a little overwhelming when shop after shop has windows full of the food examples. But man, did it all look SO good!


I'd think that if a place didn't invest in good looking food examples, it would cause folks to not want to eat there, so the level of detail on some of these was astounding. truly works of art in plastic.


my first look at the interior of the park, with the other famous part of Thunder Dolphin - the pass thru the hub-less Ferris Wheel, "the Big O" (the world's 1st)


tho honestly, I probably took this pic for the Carousel. . LOL


coming around the far side of the 2nd level shops, I get a view of the Iconic "dive thru the building" hole from Thunder Dolphin.


No train on track yet, but despite the overcast, there was movement in the station, so we had hopes it would open as scheduled.


Escalator down to lower level, near the ticket booths, which are supposed to be opening shortly. . so we'll hang around this area.


which lets me get a "great" - up-the-nose shot of Thunder Dolphin's lift hill.


what's this? La Qua has a Moomin Cafe ??


Oh my. . but I was still so full from breakfast, and wasn't craving a coffee at all. I was thisclose to getting one anyways, but decided against it. Everything looked and smelled delicious tho.


they even were making Moomin-family designs in the foam on the Lattes


and a photo op.


It's hard for me to pass up a photo-op... but particularly one where I'm familiar with/a fan of the source material.


oddly, this was the only time I saw anything Moomin related while in Japan.


but I got my memory via this pic, even if I didn't get a Latte.


it's starting to lightly drizzle - just before the park opens. . .but what's this?


Thunder Dolphin is starting to test?









well, if it hadn't been a train full of employees, they would have been yelling "wheeee"




the ticket booth opened, Elissa handed out our wristbands, and I think *everyone* went straight here.


this is the main reason to visit La Qua for most of us, so while it's NOT raining, let's get a ride!


it took a little bit of time to load us into the train (actually to even get us to the station) as we were asked multiple times to empty our pockets, or to pat our pockets to prove we had nothing in them. Allison was asked to remove her earrings too.


They are serious about nothing in pockets. Not even park maps.


We weren't patted down or wanded (something that happened at some other parks) but we were asked multiple times to ensure nothing in pockets - and once actually on the station, places were provided to store your things while riding.


interestingly, the photo op is in the station *before* the train leaves for the lift hill (done via 3 cameras).


They had us all look towards the cameras and be excited. It wasn't really acting for me, I was super excited even tho we hadn't even moved yet.


wasn't really *planning* on buying the pic, but once I saw it? (and the THRILLED face of the non TPR rider in front of us?). . yeah, easy sell.


especially since it was only ~$10.


and I love that "Wooooooow!!" on it. . . LOL


pic courtesy of Hanno (I think). . and what's so funny to me is that the guy in front of us?


on the actual ride, was hands up, having a blast!


What did I think of the ride? the 1st drop is amazing, as is the dive thru the "building hole" on a banked turn.


but the rest of the coaster kinda just meanders - in particular the "trick track" that is on the top of the building the 2nd time it goes around. . . the trick track is not 'bad'. . but it IS rather pointless, and it seems they could have done something a little more exciting there.


But that drop!


SO good. . .and so while several folks broke off to head to the back part of the Tokyo Dome City, a handful of us got back in line for Thunder Dolphin to ride again.


there was a delay in getting the train loaded, as the staff were using hand towels to wipe down the seats & headrests from the prior ride (recall, it had been drizzing), so I took this picture from the queue line for the back row while waiting - with the attendant's permission, since I had to take my phone out to snap the pic.


by the time they were done wiping down tho, it had started to rain a bit harder, and they announced that they were going to be closing the coaster down, and please exit.


I certainly couldn't be too upset, as we HAD gotten a ride on it, and there were several other things in the place that we could go on, even in the rain.. so we headed out, and asked if the Ferris Wheel still operated in the rain. (it was raining just a bit too much to brave walking across the open bridge to get to the back of the rides area.. although it turned out that there IS a tunnel so we wouldn't have had to take the open bridge)


the answer was yes, so we headed across the way to the staircase that led to the Big O for a revolution in the rain.


it turned out that pretty much everyone that had been in the Thunder Dolphin line when they shut it down had the same idea, and so there were maybe 30 folks in queue in front of us at the Big O.


it turns out that on this Ferris wheel? you can sing Karaoke. And everyone was in line for those cars.

The non-singing cars were walk on, and since no one was really feeling it (I would think if it were later in the day and we had some drinks in us, we woulda been all in!), we just went for a walk on for a non-singing car.


tho some on the trip, including Robb, *did* sing, and had a blast doing so.


We shoulda sung, I think. . but we're just too lame so early in the day. LOL


Jon is not a fan of heights, but was willing to ride this one with us. So here we are LtR: Me, Jon, Allison, & David in a steamy moist Big O Ferris Wheel car, NOT singing Karaoke.


even tho it was raining, and it had started raining fairly hard by this point? We still got some great views from the Big O.


tho it did get a bit steamy in the smallish car with four folks inside :)



very grey, but I still really like these pics


and Tokyo is still beautiful, even covered with drizzle and clouds


still get some great views of Thunder Dolphin's track from the wheel too.


by the time we got off the wheel, the rain had slowed down to a light drizzle, but we knew the Coaster wouldn't reopen if raining at all, so we headed across to the back section via the bridge.


Doctor Who?


in Japan!


this made me giggle, so of course I stopped and snapped a pic.


we found our way inside one of the giant arcades, full of claw machines - including these machines where you can win a gigantic can of Pringles (or Pocky) or many other boxed goodies, and dioramas.


Not that I thought I *would* win, but didn't even want to try it in case I did win. . didn't want to carry around a giant can of Pringles all day! LOL


remember what I said about photo ops? La Qua Tokyo Dome City had one that I stumbled across.

They were decorated for Halloween.


No, i have no idea why a Cucumber and an Eggplant have Jack-o-Lantern faces.

nor do I really know why the Eggplant appears to have been circumcised.


But oh, Japan, I am fully in love with your weirdness already.


we all got in on the photo, and the ladies manning the booth were thrilled to take the picture for us and encouraged us to be excited.


after the photo, we hit the stores down in this section, where I picked up a few gifts for co-workers (2020 Olympics related) and then we were ready to head down to the indoor coaster.


"Panic Coaster Back Daaan!!"


this one is hard to describe, as it's a shuttle coaster, that goes both forwards and backwards, some in the dark, some in disco-party mode, and it's got gigantic LED screens that show explosions, or bombs, or maybe disco balls? I was very confused, but I really liked it.


one of the confusing things was the bag they handed us when we got in the queue. It's a big canvas bag that you are to put all your stuff/bags into. and then you just leave the canvas bag between your legs while riding. You don't leave it in the station, you take it with you.


so yes, it's a bag for your bags. Weird, but in a fun way.


and although the pain looks a bit orange here, it was actually more of a pepto-neon pink in person. They keep you standing outside the doors, that swing open when it's time to load the next train of people.


you can kind of see one of the giant LED screens thru the doors on the opposite side of the track.


Certainly recommend a ride on it if you visit, it was certainly worth seeking out in the back section of the park.



Next door to "Panic Coaster Back Daaan!!" was the 4D theater which is also a shooting ride.

They had a number of offerings playing, from kid friendly, to this one, "Carnival" which was considered the scariest.


Allison said she wanted to do this one, before realizing it's scary (since she's not a fan of scary things), and then tried to get us to change our minds when we all quickly agreed! LOL


Actually, the timing just worked out that this one was about to start when we walked over to the theaters. but what a hoot listening to her in the next seat shrieking every time an evil clown or undead corpse popped out on the screen and tried to grab us before we could shoot it.


really, really well done ride/shooting game, with some great movement in the theater to match the motions on the screen as we rode decaying virtual roller coaster, and rotting carousels & tilt a whirls.


in our 3D glasses with kewl guns (me and Allison)


and the other side (David and Me).


this ride is where I discovered that Jon is a shooting game shark. . like a pool shark, but with shooting games.


he SMOKED us here (and did again later the submarine shooting ride, the animal poacher shooting ride at Yomuriland, the boy band shooting coaster at Joypolis, the Barnyard shooting ride at Nagashima Spaland, and at Toystory Mania!. . . no I'm not bitter. I'm just jealous).


there are cool little features all over the parks in Japan, such as these light up steps coming back up from the coaster/movie, and haunt walk thru.


there was a cosplay meetup going on here today. Not 100% sure if it was related to Halloween (it was only 10/6) or if it was just a group that had a meet up at the park.


but there were several groups of folks in full costumes, posing for pictures with each other, and wandering around. A couple of them did NOT want pictures taken - which seems odd, why come out in costume if you don't want pictures taken. . but I think it's a cultural thing. They didn't want pictures taken by someone they don't know (or maybe a Visitor to their Country).


coming up from the indoor stuff, we spotting this interesting Teacups type ride.


With unique cars, and lots of LED lighting, I'll bet this looks fantastic in the evenings.


so of course we rode it!


Jon and I got this thing spinning like crazy, and had a grand time on it. David and Allison also got theirs spinning pretty good too.


Good thing we hadn't yet stopped for lunch.


Some of the Cosplayers I mentioned also got in on the spinning fun.


it was after we got off the ride, when I spotted the "rules" sign - which was posted on the back of the controller's booth, after you exit the ride.


(where ELSE would it be located? :p)


I was happy to see the "Please take care not to spin too much" bullet point fell under the "request" section rather than the "rules" section. . as we hadn't seen the sign prior to getting on the ride.


but the reason I took the pic was because the rule about not giving piggyback rides. That still makes me giggle.. I love Japan.


the typo regarding "brining your umbrella" is adorable too


this was the first, but not the last, time I saw a stand selling these little bear shaped donut cakes.


the booths are all very similar, so they must be franchised out to multiple places in Japan. Got to try them in Tobu Zoo when Leia bought a bag and shared.


as I discovered the prior evening when eating a donut - not too sweet, but these were quite good when I got to try it (in particular the Honey flavor).


this was apparently also a "ride". . but it was a water shooting carnival type game - with no prizes, just scores to brag about.


we didn't stop for this as it only had 4 seats, and with about 10 people in line, it was simply too long to wait.


we were on a time limit here, as we were going to head to Cosmoworld in a couple of hours for the afternoon, and we still wanted to eat lunch.


so tho took a picture, didn't participate here. I did get to shoot water cannons to "put out fires" at Yomuriland tho. . while wearing a firehat :)


and what is this that we stumbled across?


why, it's a Cathedral themed Himalaya! Complete with a back section that had a disco ball and lights.


so yep, we went to disco-church. . and I loved it.


it didn't go backwards, but the forwards cycle was pretty forceful, and it was hella fun.


We headed back over to the main section of La Qua, this time finding and taking the tunnel (even tho the rain had pretty much stopped), and browsed the restaurants to decide where to eat.


I wasn't super hungry, since was still kinda full from breakfast. But was eager to try as much Japanese centric food as I could.


we ended up going to this place here, which seemed to be a cheese based restaurant, where most of the dishes came in a bowl with melted cheese on top, and an open flame below to keep everything gooey.


and yep, success - it was pumpkin based.


It was also very good - tho it would have been better with maybe a sprinkling of salt. I didn't ask for any, as when combined with the cheese and rice, the pumpkin chunks were just about right salt wise.


I didn't have to use my trainers, since most all of the "flaming bowl" dishes all came with standard spoons.


a side shot of the plating of how the food came to the table.


probably never in America, as not only an open flame there, but the metal dishes were piping hot, and had to be careful not to touch them while eating.


They had a special Halloween Menu, tho even tho the posters said "Halloween Menu" in English, everything else on the poster was in Japanese - and it was not included in the English version of the menu.


I took a gamble that it was gonna be pumpkin based and ordered the top one anyways.


we finished our meal - think everyone really enjoyed what we each got, and headed back out to see a few brave (and wet) souls no riding the flume - that had been running empty boats earlier.


Jon, David, and Allison weren't really feeling it, tho I had ALMOST convinced Allison to ride with me, when we watched a car go down the drop and absolutely *drench* those riding. So she said "nope" LOL


I didn't want to ride alone, and besides, knew we were going to be going to Cosmoworld this afternoon, home of the famous "Screaming Flume". . so would get my flume fix for the day in a little later.


we were getting to the last hour left and I had my sights set on something more important to me.




the Carousel.


which is on a pedestal that is OVER a portion of the log flume. a rather cool touch, I thought.


There weren't many riders today, as the showers earlier had driven most of the kids away (or to the indoor portions), so I think we may have been the only ones on it.


but Carousels are my happy place, and this was a just lovely one.


see how happy?


I rode a frog!


with a duck on it's butt.


no, I *don't* know why the frog has a duck on it's butt. but I love it regardless! just look at that smile.


Everyone looks happy!




some lovely details on this Carousel too, and it appears to be really well maintained.


Not a large Carousel diameter wise, but not a lot of peeling paint, and the little cherub faces on the interior watching the riders are adorable.



Mr Frog. . happy to have bert's fat butt off of him.


But he still has a duck on *his* butt, so HA.


we were considering heading back to the back section of the park, or maybe doing one of the walkthru Haunts, as Brad had told us about one he and Leia had done involving Moths, that was kinda terrifying. . when we noticed there was a dark shooting ride right across from the Carousel called : the Dive


you ride standing up in "underwater" dive bells, and shoot at creatures, and animatronics in scenes to get points.


not really sure what the storyline was, but it was odd, and fun at the same time.


here's a pic of the vehicle coming back into the station.


I think those are David's arms sticking out holding the gun, in the bell behind us.


you can see some of the targets in this ride here too.


Doesn't Allison look thrilled? LOL


Jon smoked me points wise on this one too.. but I wasn't really good with the two handed aiming, and had no idea what I was supposed to be shooting at. . so was shooting at everything.


all in all, it was a fun, if bizarre, dark ride.


we had about 40 minutes until it was time to meet up at the Train Station, and Elissa texted the group telling us there was activity going on at Thunder Dolphin's station.


within a few moments, all of the TPR folks were standing near Thunder Dolphin's entrance, and employees went up and down the steps and it looked like they were getting ready to reopen the ride, now that all the rain had passed. As we stood by and watched & waited, more folks joined us outside the queue eager to ride the coaster once it opened.


Sure enough, after about 20 minutes, an employee came and opened the photo purchase booth, and started letting us into the queue line.


we went thru the "check to make sure your pockets are empty" screening a couple of times, and then we were let up onto the platform.


other than the front row (a couple had bought skip the line, so bypassed the rest of us) the whole front end of the train was TPR.


it was a perfect way to end our visit at La Qua before heading out. . a final Ride on Thunder Dolphin. So we had started out our day at the park on the Coaster, and ended on the Coaster. perfect.


it seemed to be running about the same as it had been in the morning - so no real "warming up" thruout the day, but let's look at it realistically: it hadn't run most of the morning due to the weather, so it didn't have a chance to warm up.


Still.. excellent 1st drop, and dive thru the building. really liked it and so glad I got to ride it not just once, but twice during our visit.


pic by Hanno, who got us having a blast in rows 2-6 pm Thunder Dolphin!


what a great morning.


and after this ride, we all headed to the Train Station as a group, to go to the 2nd park of the day: Yokohama Cosmoworld.

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Great report! I didn't spend too much time at Tokyo Dome City last year, but I remember Thunder Dolphin's drop being wonderful. And that setting is super unique.


I also love how the food you receive in Japan matches exactly what you see in the displays.

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I visited Tokyo Dome City with my host family during my first visit to Japan and like you described, rain was a factor that shuts down much of the complex. For this reason, most of the outdoor, uncovered attractions were closed including Thunder Dolphin. We rode Big O and Geo Panic along with a spinning coaster they used to have...


Based on your report it looks like there was more to LaQua than I realized. I'm also very interested to understand how much of the Panic Coaster uses of the former Geo Panic/MagiQuest space.


Thanks for sharing this great update!

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Great report! I didn't spend too much time at Tokyo Dome City last year, but I remember Thunder Dolphin's drop being wonderful. And that setting is super unique.


I also love how the food you receive in Japan matches exactly what you see in the displays.


yeah, if I had any extra room in the suitcase, I probably would have picked up a few of the plastic food displays to take home. They were so neat to see. (William won a spoon full of noodles keychain (from a claw machine), that looked totally edible.


I visited Tokyo Dome City with my host family during my first visit to Japan and like you described, rain was a factor that shuts down much of the complex. For this reason, most of the outdoor, uncovered attractions were closed including Thunder Dolphin. We rode Big O and Geo Panic along with a spinning coaster they used to have...


Based on your report it looks like there was more to LaQua than I realized. I'm also very interested to understand how much of the Panic Coaster uses of the former Geo Panic/MagiQuest space.


Thanks for sharing this great update!


you're welcome, and glad it's "reading" well. There really is quite a bit to do at La Qua/Tokyo Dome. . it could be a most of the day visit, if you wanted to spend time in the arcades, shopping, and ride EVERYTHING (including the Parachutes, the flats, and the walk thrus - there were at least two haunts, but not sure if those are year round or just for Halloween season. one of them looked pretty permanent). But it was perfect for a few hours in the morning visit for us, since many of us were mainly focused just on Thunder Dolphin, Panic Coaster Back Daaan!!!, and the Ferris Wheel.


Since it was my 1st time ever in Japan (and to Tokyo Dome City), I can't really answer how much space is being used for the coaster - or if it's even in the same space as the prior one was. If it IS in the same space tho, the 4D theaters are right next door, so it would be logical to think that those used some of the space.


the Coaster seemed to be a pretty good size - even tho it was a single rail.. .but it was hard to tell, since much of the forward launch is in complete darkness. It was really fun tho!


Really enjoying reading this trip report. It's making me remember all the good memories of my first japan trip. Now I want to find some chocolate croissants. Look forward to reading more updates to your report.


you could always dip a hot dog bun in Hershey Syrup?


seriously, tho the croissants were great, I didn't discover until after Halloween when I got into the Disney Chocolate Crunch, what my *favorite* treat from Japan is. I didn't buy near enough of it!


goals for a future trip.

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All of our breakfasts were legendary. I realized that after Shinagawa, though, since I had used my time that morning to call home. The Prince Hotel set up looks fantastic!


There was more to Tokyo Dome than I anticipated. Going into the area I thought it was just the space around Thunder Dolphin but they have a lot to work with and it's literally right next to the baseball stadium. I would have loved to have seen the area during one of the baseball games. (hey Joey)


Thunder Dolphin was tied with Hollywood Dream for most safety conscious coaster on the trip. Those Intamin trains were SPOTLESS. It's so cool to have an Intamin mega coaster in the middle of the city and Back Daaan was a fun little coaster.

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^ I had no idea the dome was for Baseball! Really. . . I thought it was for Football.

(is that where Joey went to the game during the trip?).


Yeah, Hollywood Dream with the metal wands was certainly the most "invasive" of the safety protocols.

Pretty much ALL the parks were pretty overboard and serious on the safety checks tho, so gotta wonder if maybe there had been a new law passed? or if an accident of some sort maybe happened recently?

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so gotta wonder if maybe there had been a new law passed? or if an accident of some sort maybe happened recently?

In Japan rides simply CANNOT have accidents. Even when accidents have happened that were non-fatal, and would be considered "not a huge deal" here in the US, it will shut down a coaster for sometimes multiple years. Case in point, both Steel Dragon and Thunder Dolphin were both closed for many years due to a mechanical issue with the trains that resulted in a non-fatal accident. But it was enough to add several additional safety checks to ensure it doesn't happen again.


Following an incident in which a 25 cm long bolt fell from the ride while in motion on 5 December 2010, injuring a 9-year-old visitor, operation of the ride was suspended until 1 August 2013, when the ride reopened


An amusement park "Tokyo Dome City Attractions" (Bunkyo, Tokyo), in 2010, a damaged bolt dropped from a running roller coaster and a girl in elementary school was slightly injured. A report of investigations caused by design errors that do not take load into consideration has been compiled.


According to the ministry, one damaged 28cm long metal bolt that connects the wheel of a Swiss coaster vehicle to the wheel. Although it was a type of wheel that was prone to lateral shaking, it was not assumed that a lateral burden would be generated during traveling, and the bolts seemed to break due to metal fatigue.


The accident occurred on December 5, 2010 at the roller coaster “Thunder Dolphin”. The fallen bolt bounced on the ground and hit the side of a girl in a third grade at that time.


So you can see, that minor injury caused the ride to be closed for 2 1/2 years. And that is why those nets all around the entire ride were installed after the accident.

Edited by robbalvey
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^ that makes total sense.


and I will note for clarity's sake - the additional "pocket checks", Rubber Bands to secure loose shoes, and/or "security wanding" did not in any way impact the enjoyment of the rides. Everything was so efficient that in most cases it only caused a slight delay while boarding.


Certainly *nothing* to complain about, and only really noticed it since coming from the USA where I'm so used to dealing with Six Flags parks -- where there are metal detectors at the entrance to the parks, but no real checks at individual rides.


I also found it super impressive that pretty much ALL of the places we went to had free storage bins (even Space Fantasy: Black Hole at Universal, where it cost 100 yen to rent a space, but then gave the coin back after the ride).


so tho it was a little bit odd how careful they were being - especially with the storage bins available, I understand it much better now.


thanks Robb!

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^The Fujin Raijin II incident in 2007 is also a big part of why Japan's standards are as strict as they are, because Japanese authorities saw the incident as a sign that the standards and enforcement they had before were nowhere near enough if they allowed something like that to happen (similar to how the sarin gas attacks in 1995 prompted many places in Japan to get rid of their public trash cans; just like how people got used to not having public trash cans, the new safety standards just became a fact of life for Japanese parkgoers).

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