Day 12: Legoland Japan, Higashiyama Zoo, Culture, and Heavy Metal Showcase
PHEW! This was a busy, busy day. But one of my favorites of the trip by far.
I believe we re-organized days on the trip because the original day for Nagashima Spa Land looked rainy. We swapped that park with the Legoland day (less important for good weather). But the weather turned out perfect both days. Honestly, we had great weather for most of the trip.
We took a quick subway trip up to Legoland (it does have its own station so it is easy to access) and arrived before opening. There is a nice little outdoor shopping district that you walk through as you approach the park entrance. If there is one thing that became immediately clear, it was that the park as a whole was packed into a tight footprint, especially when you looked at how close the hotel was to the gate.
Either way, this was my first Legoland experience and it was definitely fun! The park absolutely needs to expand a bit before I would consider it a good value (that has been one of the main complaints). But what they do have is fun fun! It was quite crowded compared to other parks we went to on the trip, but we made the most of the 4 or 5 hours we spent there.
I think I walked past this McDonald's in the morning en route to an ATM (I had many a problem this trip getting money out as certain 7-Eleven ATMs worked and others didn't for my debit card. But I was fascinated by the separate area to pour liquids. Seems smart.
Also, these 'seats' are clearly designed to get people in and out quickly. I've already mentioned but it is worth repeating. McDonald's in Japan is actually quite nice. Service is super speedy and Shaka Shaka Chicken is great!
Here was our hotel entrance.
I found this to be a nice way to beautify a parking garage.
We have arrived! The hotel is pretty neat looking, but as mentioned, it all feels realllllly cramped at the entrance.
The beautiful lego structures begin.
One thing I'll mention. They let us through with our tickets before park officially opened and we all hung out on the little main street area before the park broke off in different directions. Around 3 minutes before park open, the staff member actually pulled the rope back and told everyone to patiently wait until he signaled. Everyone did as they were told and then he gestured the go-ahead at 10:00 and then we went ahead. I feel like this would've been a real challenge in the states.
This is not an ideal picture. Not at all.
All ready to roll.
I did appreciate all the little touches throughout the park.
We went off to the left toward the Dragon Coaster and Dragon's Apprentice. Because... coasters!
This was a fun little coaster. The little dark ride up front is nice but I wish it was like twice as long (how I feel about Seven Dwarfs Mine Train as well).
Blurry shot of Submarine Adventure. Quite a fun little ride. Loads of real and Lego Fish populated the water. As with everything at the park, though, it felt short. If everything was just 30-50% longer, I think I would have been more content. Seems like a budget/space issue, but I don't know.
When you got off the ride, they had some little fish exhibits. Important to note, there was nothing stopping guests from reaching right into the water. But that is a okay in Japan, because people are more aware that they are being given a special privilege and they shouldn't muck it up for everyone.
The Adventure themed shooting dark ride was also fun but shortish!
One thing I found really nice was that they had little Lego boards in line where kids could play while in line.
We had lunch at the Pizza and Pasta buffet and it was pretty solid. $20 gets you four or five different types of pizza, three types of pasta, salad, breadsticks, and a drink. I would recommend!
The driving school was adorable and something I know I would've loved as a kid. Everyone made an actual effort to drive somewhat responsibly which was impressive for how young the kids were.
I really love the Sax.
And the direwolf.
Umeda Sky Building, which I explored earlier on in the trip.
This area was beautiful. I could've spent forever exploring the little details that I am sure the designers are hoping folks catch.
I was especially struck by this area.
Actually made me want to visit which is why I took this picture for future reference.
Tokyo Skytree was definitely the biggest structure. Look at the folks next to it for scale. I think it was more than a million pieces for this building alone.
Tokyo Stadium. They even had these buttons that would make the pieces interactive. For this one, a guy ran around the bases after hitting a home run.
Dotonbori. I like the play on the Glico Running Man.
The closest I got to seeing all of Mt. Fuji.
We then hopped on the observation tower after considering the brick tour but deciding we didn't have enough time. This gives you the lay of the land up front and some perspective on how close everything is together.
Some more aerial shots of Miniland and the park.
So we headed out from Legoland maybe around 1:30-2. Some folks were headed to the SCMAGLEV and Railway Park, which is a pretty new (2011) museum that has loads of old and new trains and even a Shinkansen simulator. They randomly select a few guests each day to try the simulator. It is $5 if selected (I assume just to weed through people who don't care as much) and it sounded really neat. I could see myself visiting on a future trip. But....
We decided instead to visit this Zoo. Animals > Trains.
...or is that really why we decided to visit? The zoo actually has a little amusement park with a powered coaster, a small jet coaster, and a slope coaster. Yeah, a slope coaster (not my name for it). We arrived around 3 and had two hours. Admission is really cheap ($6-8 or so) and rides are sold separate ($2-3 each). We made our way up steps (surprise, surprise) and got enough tickets to ride the three coasters.
This park also had a convenient subway station, which factored into us deciding to go. I remember seeing some sort of plaque that indicated this zoo was partners or somehow affiliated with either the San Diego or LA zoos. Cannot find it on the internet, but yeah... it is a big zoo (second most visited behind Ueno Zoo in Tokyo.
We bought our tickets from a lady behind a counter before seeing you could purchase from this machine instead. Oh well!
Well, here we are.
This funky looking ride, that we did not ride.
This was kind of sad...
Some goofy swings.
The jet coaster and ferris wheel.
THE MAIN REASON WE ARE HERE.
The one of a kind slope coaster. I had seen videos of this and truly had no idea it was in Japan until the day of or the day before this visit. It was absolutely one of those unexpected highlights for me.
We actually waited a good 30 minutes because they had 2 or 3 cars running total and they only fit 1 or 2 people each. But the ride itself was super unique and actually really fun. In a way, I would definitely enjoy having one of these in the states. It is by no means thrilling but it is super unique and good fun.
You were kindly escorted from the station to the lift where you would usually wait 10-15 seconds before a mechanism would latch onto your car to pull you up the lift. If you haven't seen the video, I highly recommend you youtube Slope Coaster and look for TPR's video.
After riding, we had 50 or so minutes left to explore the zoo in rapid fashion. One thing I will say is that the zoo exhibits were generally less than ideal in size and upkeep. I wouldn't mind paying twice the $$ to give these animals better homes.
World's largest bird of prey, I guess.
Koalas! This was a nice surprise
I think this guy had one of the nicer exhibits. The zoo was honestly really large and a bit hard to navigate at points. But I would say definitely worth a couple hour visit if you are nearby. For the price, especially. An opportunity to see something you may be used to seeing in your home country, but in a different light.
Feel like this was the Kawahara Shrine upon trying to google shrines that were close to the zoo. But at any rate, we spent some time here exploring. Believe there was a ceremony going on which was interesting to hear a bit of as we meandered around.
Big Buddah big buddah.
There was a cemetery as well which we briefly explored.
From there, I decided something I wanted to check off my bucket list in Japan was to see a concert. I love going to shows. I'm probably good for 10-15 concerts a year and usually a festival. So I hopped off the subway and found myself outside of Club Zion. Before I went in, I needed dinner. So I went to 7-Eleven and grabbed some chicken and onigiri plus a tea. I loved this little dog parking sign..
This was the show I had found. Definitely not a big thing. But I am a bit of a metal head and so it sounded like a neat opportunity to go to a showcase of sorts.
The flier. I tracked this down on the internet today.
Funny story about the show, though... I paid with a 5000 yen billl for a 2900 yen show. I ended up receiving like 6400 yen back in change. I tried hard to explain to the guy at the front that this was incorrect. The language barrier made this difficult. I got my ticket and was handed a drink ticket and was on my way. Got paid to see four bands play. It was honestly a great time and I am so glad I went.
That night, we got back and met up with others for Karaoke right by our hotel. Probably one of the Joy Joy franchises you see everywhere in Japan. I didn't necessarily know what to expect, but will give my thoughts here.
Pricing wise, it was confusing. I am not sure if we misinterpreted or were misled accidentally, but we were basically told that it would be 900 yen a person/hour even if the 8 of us shared a room. It would actually be the same price per person apparently if we each requested our own room (which would be no fun). This didn't seem quite right to me. But you do get unlimited non alcoholic beverages, so I understand the need for some fixed cost/person.
We had a nice hour of fun, and I am glad to say I did it because it certainly is a unique Japanese thing. I also noticed quite a few people who DID rent out a room just to sing alone. Maybe a good way to blow off some steam! That's all I got for now. Thanks for reading!
Last edited by Taylor Finn on Sat Apr 20, 2019 4:01 pm.
Hello again! Sorry for the delay. So, today was a nice day. In fact, I think it was a day I completely forgot about as the trip progressed. To try to justify to myself that the trip wasn't winding down, I kept running by the cool things we had left in the trip. And this just slipped my mind. So it was kind of a surprise bonus day.
I ended up liking both of these parks for different reasons. Honestly, that was what made this trip so great. Every park had something totally WTF and/or something totally awesome. And all of them had incredibly friendly folks and no crowds. So can't beat that.
Hamanako Pal Pal
This was a common trend. Smoke rooms on the subway platforms. I can appreciate it!
A sign! Maybe intended to help if I wanted to return.
What a great warning. I was constantly on the look out for weird stuff like that.
We have arrived! This was Mega Coaster. Looks a bit like that Togo over in Vegas, but man... it rides a lot better. It was actually a wonky, fun little ride. Each element seemed completely disconnected from the rest, but I enjoyed it.
Obligatory map. Another hilly park, but not too bad, really.
I think I actually enjoyed this guy. Much like lemonade but not quite as sweet, which I can appreciate.
Our next credit was this guy. A nice little wild mouse, I guess.
Super convenient supports, let me tell you.
Odd antique cars.
A nice informative diagram. I remember the ride op on this one too his job a bit more seriously than usual. He had a hard hat on and honestly seemed to check the restraints two or three times and asked for our approval as he stapled us in. Strangely remember these details.
A log flume and this ride. I dunno if this picture does it justice.
A bit better. It was like a paratrooper meets enterprise meets free rotation. The ride cycle was bizarre and I don't usually enjoy flats but this one was hilarious. It had me laughing during the cycle. I would love for more parks to have this model. Is there a video anywhere of it?
Yeah, so in addition to that other mouse, they had this one.
Dunno, this might have been the Toy Story Midway Mania type game. It was like four people in one car competing at little mini games themed to like physical things like swimming and running. Just lots of button tapping. But fun, nonetheless.
Had to ride the big wheel naturally!
As always, the park was set in a beautiful area along the coast.
So there was a shooting dark ride that we unfortunately did not get around to riding but this was the translation of the back story behind the ride.
Here I am!
So we had some time in the subway station to eat lunch and I strayed from the usual 7-Eleven because there was a nice little group of restaurants. The menu at this lunch spot was entirely in Japanese and the waitress had some trouble translating but I ended up with this delicious fried chicken with two sauces, salad, soup, and rice for like $7. Holy wow.
Had to get a McFlurry for dessert. This was the typical size and was like $2. Really nice amount.
So one of the really cool things was that between the two parks we were at a station where bullet trains would fly through. Important to note that there are three tiers of bullet trains. The fastest makes the least stops and the slowest stops more. So some bullet trains DO stop here, others fly through. And it was alarming to say the least to see how fast these really move. I took a video and in 8 seconds the entire train went past me (the train itself is about 0.5 mile long). Do the math.
Here we are at park two for the day.
The ferris wheel was not part of normal park admission I don't think, but you could buy separate tickets for it.
A really nice little place. Lacks a bit in quantity of attractions but most everything I rode was GREAT.
Aqua Wind was super fun. Honestly, if every park had this instead of the typical mouse, they'd be better off.
The family coaster had a nice little soundtrack that played during the ride. Odd, but nice.
Not a clue what this was. But the park did have another coaster. It was a super wonky train with incredibly abrupt and unfortunate transitions. But was fun, since it was well themed. And there was a 4D option, so I did both.
The suspended shooting dark ride was really awesome. It was neat because you had all sorts of different vantage points.
Magical Powder! This was a trip.
The premise was that you could take this magical powder and it would have different effects. And I believe the plot of the ride was basically that the characters really needed it and were super depressed until they got some. I can't honestly do it justice.
Yeah, here we are. Campbell's Soup cans full of drugs, I assume.
A full list of your options.
A couple scenes. Just check out Robb's video.
The log flume was also incredible. Honest to goodness, my favorite non-Disney/Universal log flume.
Believe I thought about buying a container of this for the trip home.
Thanks for a lovely day!
That night in Nagoya we took Robb's suggestion and went to Lockup, a weird bizarre, only in Japan type experience.
Yeah, this place was weird. Gimmicky, and if I'm being totally honest, not for me, kind of place. But it was worth experiencing I guess. Food was decent, drinks were sugary but super creative.
No pictures from inside, but you can check out Robb's report from Nagashima (maybe) and he goes into much more detail about the experience. Thanks for reading! Another day closer to Disney!
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