Taylor's Coaster (and Food) Adventures

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Re: Taylor's Japan Adventures 2018

Postby Taylor Finn » Fri Feb 15, 2019 7:16 am

Canobie Coaster wrote:Excellent report! I agree Washuzan was one of the weaker parks on the trip but the Brazilian show was quite interesting...especially since I was solicited into performing.

That whole experience was just perfectly strange in the best way.

SharkTums wrote:Once again, great TR! Really love reliving the trip through your eyes...wait did that sound creepy?!?! ;)

Naw! I'm glad you''re enjoying my long-winded approach to writing these. I am a detail guy and this is partly for me to remember the trip for when I return.

jlp94 wrote:Ah, so THAT'S the park with the pedal-powered tracked ride that's always in clickbait videos and articles ;) great trip report though, fun read as always.

Yeah, I remember Robb discussing how viral the ride went. And that there were people traveling there to experience it... I would say for the average person, it would not be worth going there for it. Going with a large group like TPR, the whole experience was bumped up a notch. Plus, we are crazy.

Nrthwnd wrote:I love love LOVEd your cocktail experience! (edit, ADVENTURE!) What an awesome place to find!

<sigh> I miss Japan so much. :cry:

Yeah, it was truly amazing. I love finding places like that. I went to a Speakeasy in Brooklyn that was hidden in the back of a normal functioning laundromat. This place, though, had the mystique and also delivered the goods.

the ghost seems to think there is a "Donkey Fairy"
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Re: Taylor's Japan Adventures 2018

Postby adamico2 » Sat Feb 16, 2019 10:21 pm

Thanks for the shout-out, Taylor. It was truly an incredible trip! I'm usually the compulsive planner, when it comes time to travel. It was so great not having to worry about all that on this trip. Robb and Elissa had all of the parks, travel, and accommodations planned out perfectly, and even had contingency plans for when mother nature disagreed with the originals. In the evenings, it was awesome being able to tack onto your plans. The food and bar choices were top notch!

P.S. It appears that the back of my head has been very well-documented. ;)

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Re: Taylor's Japan Adventures 2018

Postby SharkTums » Sun Feb 17, 2019 10:30 am

^That's what I so love about the way we've been doing Japan trips lately! Everyone goes to parks together and doesn't have to worry about anything. Then there's free time to explore and do other stuff and share what you've found with friends! Ugh, I love Japan!!!

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Re: Taylor's Japan Adventures 2018

Postby anonymouscactus » Tue Feb 26, 2019 5:33 pm

Late to the party but just read the whole thread... thanks for sharing your experience and insight! I have always wanted to go to Japan so I always love reading these reports and seeing all the great photos.

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Re: Taylor's Japan Adventures 2018

Postby Taylor Finn » Wed Feb 27, 2019 6:42 pm

Day 9: Hirakata Park, and Kyoto

So today was our do over day at Universal. By now, we were hopeful that the coasters would be open again after the Earthquake. We had been given 9000 yen and had the option to put that toward a new ticket. I figured I was there and it wasn't really any more money than I had already paid, so I went into the park that morning. I was looking for pictures and didn't take any from the park. I realize now that was because my one contact bugged out on me and so I was walking around with incredibly blurred vision. However, the coasters DID open up for us. So I got a couple spins each on Flying Dinosaur, Hollywood Dream, and Backdraft. I dunno if I hit anything else that morning. But I feel like I didn't, because my eyes were so irritated. Either way, it was really great to get a second shot at the park. A smaller trip like this with folks who are very flexible means plans can change much easier.

So I left the park around noon maybe and went back to the hotel, switched contacts, and we were on our way to Hirakata (which we had originally planned to be at around 10 at park open). Instead, we got there around 1, 1:30 and had three hours there. As you'll see in my pictures (look for people that aren't clearly from our group, you'll see very few), that was enough time to do most ALL of what they had to offer, which was a lot. I would really say if you are traveling to Japan and want to seamlessly blend amusement parks and culture, Hirakata makes a lot of sense, as it falls kind of en route to Kyoto from Osaka and is right outside the train station.

NOT MY PICTURE. But yeah, we did go back to the park to ride this beauty. Honestly, has to be my favorite flyer. It was wicked intense, especially in the back. So much so, that two rides did me in plenty.

Hirakata Park
This park has so much to offer. Has a good number of credits for a Japanese park if that's what you're into. But they are quality. Elf was a fun little Junior Woodie (also, the only wooden coaster of the trip for me). Red Falcon was definitely my favorite jet coaster for sheer WTF factor. It was just a mess of track in the worst way. And then there was Fantastic Coaster Rowdy which was absolutely unpleasant, but again, a blast in its own way. A really nice assortment of flats, dark rides, and an overall super clean and great place.

We have arrived. There weren't all that many parks that were right off the train station, this was one of them though.

Park was hilly, but not quite as much so as some other places we went. The mountain in the middle was not JUST for show. In a bit, I'll talk about it some more.

Elf wasn't like a TOP 10 CRAZY WOODEN COASTER. But it was nice and had a few pops of air depending on where you sat. It was nice to get my woodie fix.

The gang!

Don't think I rode this one, but that was only because there was so much else to do.


This park had a huge theater space. As well as some switchbacks for the coasters. I could definitely see the place getting quite crowded in the busy months.

She's a beaut. Not really, but it was a blast in its own way. Just riding for the first time without any real idea what weird sh*t it is going to throw at you was fun.


I kind of forget what this walk through was like. But I do appreciate the option I guess.

It was a really nice park, and I definitely took a lot of pictures, because it was bigger than a lot of the other places we went.


On the wild mouse, they had these little carts you would put your stuff in that they would move shuffle in and out as people entered and exited the ride. It actually worked really well.

They had these little ice cream cones in vending machines for like $1.20. That is another thing I really liked about Japan. Vending machine prices did not really vary all that much. Parks sold bottled drinks for comparable prices for the most part.

Another screaming log flume. Closed, unfortunately.


Great sign, really.

This ice house was ABSOLUTELY needed. It felt so refreshing to step in and I wish this was a thing in the States (and was just included in park admission). It is these little attractions that gave Japanese parks so much charm.

A goofy little flat ride. I dunno what these are called, but you like turn around once or twice during the ride.

Nicely themed.

A strange little ride.

Another strange little ride. The park was just FULL of rides.

Including one of those baby baby flume rides, with this great promo photo. I dunno exactly what they were going for... but...

A bunch of us recreated the pose and I am having a little too much fun with it.

One of the odd park mascots insisted on getting a picture with us in the little gardens they had in one of the corners of the park.

They had this weird outdoor shooting ride. Again, no need to have a ride like this. Not a huge draw. But man, is it fun to just walk around a new park in Japan and stumble upon weird stuff like this (and just walk right on).

Nice train ride around a big chunk of the park. I think this one had like a really fake sounding whistle that he could and DID play a lot.

The little scenic boat ride thingy. I dunno how to describe it, exactly. I was of the mindset to just do it all. This does not look like a hugely exciting ride, obviously. But I would honestly say that I am more into the overall park than coasters. There were certainly people on the trip who were different than me in that sense. But I am interested in pretty much any ride or attraction that is unique in any way (any tracked or custom ride, really).

Another odd mascot.

This kid is horrified.

There is that octopus ride again.

This experience deserves some explanation. Basically, we approached the entrance and the lady gestured that it would be a couple minutes. It seemed like quite a bit of time, so I assumed it wasn't just like a normal walk through attraction where they were trying to just space you out. I was correct there, but I never could've known what was in store. Basically, she escorted us into a room that had sarcophagi lining the walls. They were all open and she instructed us to sit inside them on a chair and gave us a pair of headphones. The door was then shut and our hands were placed through some openings so that they were on the outside of the sarcophagus. It was dark inside the space, except for a small TV screen that began to play some weird creepy clips and sounds. At one point, something kind of slapped my hands but it was so cheesy I didn't really flinch. None of it really 'scared' me, but it was just bizarre in the best way. When we were done, the employee came out after a minute with print outs for each of us. I can't really say for sure what was said on the print out, except that it seemed to be some kind of measure of how frightened you were during the whole ordeal. Just great stuff.

What a ride.

This gives you a pretty good idea of it all. Sorry, Adam.

Okay, so the last thing we decided to do on our way out of the park was find out what was in this mysterious mountain. To our surprise, it was a bit of a scavenger hunt. We kind of kept walking around the initial room clueless after being given a map of sorts. Eventually, someone came over and was super enthusiastic about helping us along. I can't really recall all the details, but I can remember at one point like doing things like "find the odd one out" and other things like that. You would sort of punch out the answers to the various questions throughout the hunt and then at the end you would insert the map back into a machine which would check to see that the right answers had been punched out. Think we got a little trading card at the end. But the best part was the boss battle. It was some kind of lava monster thing. And there was a room we entered with a little mini volcano type thing in the middle and four touch screens at each corner. The object was simple for this boss battle. Well, not really. We had to do two things.

1. Frantically destroy these lava things on the screen by tapping them quickly.

2. Throw these blue 'ball pit' balls into the center of the volcano. They would dispense into a little pond of sorts in each corner and as you would throw them into the center, the lava would also subside on the screen. You were fighting with water, I guess. I remember getting SO into it and I think we maybe won? After, I felt bad because there were a bunch of the balls all over the ground. We started to help clean up, but they insisted we leave and let them take care of it.

Sorry that none of this really amounts to much for readers who didn't visit this park. Just thought I ought to at least try to explain for my own recollection later on.

So yeah, this was a blast. And also a really nice day at the park, overall. Where to next?

We headed off from there to Kyoto. Fushimi Inari Taisha, more precisely. We probably left Hirakata around 4, 4:30 and took a really quick 35 minute train to the shrine (has a dedicated subway station). Here is a map you see upon entering that gives you an idea of the whole complex. It is quite expansive with most of the larger structures residing at the bottom.

Here is what you see from the bottom.

Inari is the God of Rice (thanks wikipedia).

I really did take a lot of pictures here and I cannot say I totally grasp or understand what I was seeing, so I will do my best just to explain what it was like exploring the complex.

This was the beginning of the loop trail that goes up the mountain. The whole loop takes about two hours to do and your journey up includes tons of mini shrines and also thousands of these torii gates.

I think on the way down I asked my group how many they thought there were in the complex. Forget how close anyone got to the closest actual estimates (around 10,000).

It was one of the few places I had known about prior to visiting from a friend who visited.


Coming up on another set of the gates. Most all of the trail was under these gates with occasional breaks for little shrines.

It is so very difficult to fully paint a picture of what this experience was like because there was just so much to see everywhere.

This was an odd little area where there seemed to be loads of cats hanging around.

Another interesting tid bit. There were vending machines throughout the loop (thank goodness), but as you went up, they got more expensive (more difficult to stock). So, I would bring some water and snacks with you, but don't expect to see a single garbage can. You carry your trash with you a lot in Japan (it is not typical to eat and walk, so there isn't as much of a need for trash cans). There was also not a single piece of litter along this whole trail which was just crazy.

Some beautiful views as we climb up the mountain.

More good views of the city of Kyoto.

Well, this was an endless off shoot of the main trail that I think was described simply as "Nice View." I did not take this trail.

We would catch this very view again on our way down once the sun began to set. This is marker 6 on the map you'll see in just a few pictures. It is the part of trail that you pass through on your way up and down.


Gives you a bit more perspective on the whole vibe.

This was the summit of the whole trail and by this point we were fairly pooped. It is quite a few steps up.


Look how proud we are.


And here we are! I will say it didn't seem like the map that was at the bottom was super accurate in terms of scale, just kind of count on 2-2.5 hours up and down if you walk at a decent clip.


So there was a little capsule machine to dispense fortunes. If the fortune is bad, as I mentioned earlier in the trip, you are to fold it up and sort of tie it up on a post of sorts. If it is good, you take it with you.

What would my fortune be?!

I DON'T KNOW HOW TO READ THIS. Part of me expected an English translation since this was largely a touristy area. Alas, I think I tied it up just in case.

We head down. And it is starting to get close to that time!

A really beautiful place to watch a sunset.


The trip down is quite a bit quicker than up, it seems.

Back to where we started.

From there, we took a quick train ride to Kyoto Station, which would ultimately be our way home; but the station itself is an attraction unto itself. We agreed to go to a Conveyor Belt Sushi place (seemed like a rite of passage). This place was pretty good actually!

Any time something passed you on the belt, you could grab it. There was different prices associated with each color plate and you got a check handed to you by staff after they checked your finished plates. I think I liked my sushi in Tokyo better, but this place was fun!

It was quite a popular place, but we didn't wait too long since we agreed to split up into two groups of two.

So Kyoto Station is impossible to describe. But there is this enormous staircase that gets lit up and animates. Off to the sides are tall buildings that are connected to the station area kind of.

If you go all the way up the steps, there is a little garden and some viewing areas for the city. This tower was a popular attraction but we did not partake.

The view looking down from pretty high up the staircase. I swear, it was escalator after escalator. Probably about 8 of them to get from the bottom to the top. Nothing quite like it.

I'll leave you with another view of Kyoto. I know those pictures didn't do the station justice, but look it up for yourself. It really is worth visiting if you are going to go to Kyoto. Thanks for reading!

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Re: Taylor's Japan Adventures 2018

Postby Canobie Coaster » Wed Feb 27, 2019 8:21 pm

Great report!

That Legend of Luxor sarcophagus ride was so messed up in the best way possible. I thought the employee was kidding when she told us to enter the sarcophagus and I honestly thought the 1980s quality graphics made it creepier.

I think the printout was a measure of how pure your heart is as it's based upon the story whether or not your heart is heavier or lighter than a feather.
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Re: Taylor's Japan Adventures 2018

Postby Taylor Finn » Tue Mar 05, 2019 8:05 am

Day 10: Nagashima Spa Land

Welcome back! So, today we headed out from Osaka to Nagoya. Nagoya actually falls between Tokyo and Osaka on the map. We had a couple great parks planned for this region and I was looking forward especially to Nagashima Spa Land since I joined the trip. Steel Dragon is certainly one of the coasters that I knew of long before I became an 'enthusiast,' along with The Beast, Volcano, and probably some others. Also, I was desperately hoping I would finally get my Ultra Twister fix. Read on to find out!

It was certainly sad to leave Universal property. The hotel was really nice, we enjoyed the breakfast a lot, and yeah. But, I believe this was another day where we did a luggage transfer. Really nice to have this set up, so we could just be on our merry way for the day and then just have our luggage waiting for us at the hotel.

And we're off! I think a trip into Nagoya proper we would have probably only been looking at a 45 minute trip. But I think we took the train straight to the station near the park, so maybe a bit closer to 1.5-2 hours. Either way, not too shabby!

Not before grabbing my snack and beer. Unfortunately, I didn't splurge to try this. I was a bit horrified honestly.

I did get this, though. Always trying a different delicious drink.

I believe this could possibly have been Nagoya station? I'm not certain.

My snack for the travels. Very yum. I actually just signed up for Bokksu, which is a subscription box filled with Japanese snacks. Gonna give it a shot. Need a little fix.

Ah! If you've been following along, I mentioned having a picture of the pricing schemes for cabs. So about $6 minimum fare for first 1.5 km (roughly 1 mile). From there, about $3/km or roughly $5/mile. Definitely pricier than in the States, anyway.

Some GREAT pictures from the cab.

Our cab driver actually took us to the 'old entrance' or something. We hustled through an outdoor shopping mall that is attached to the property and ended up at the main gate before others (similar problem it seems).

There she is! Steel Dragon was certainly one of the coasters I was most looking forward to.

Main entrance area was massive and impressive.

I want you to tell me if at any point you are reminded a bit of... a certain other amusement park.. that might be located in the United States... might also have a similar map style... might also have a RMC conversion of a sprawling, oppressive wooden caoster...

This slide complex was absolutely nuts. Impossible to even get a good count on how many slides are up there.



This little cycle monorail thing was adorable. Dunno if it was pedal powered or what. It seemed automatic.

The first of two Schwarzkopf's at the park. Never been on one of these guys and honestly, they were a lot of fun. I can't do lots of backwards. But this was just the right amount and the launch was, of course, forceful and enjoyable.


Here is Looping Star. The other.

This park has their fair share of flats. Really, the most flats of any park in Japan that we went to.

First time on a 1st gen Intamin drop tower, too. And yeah, it was horrifying but absolutely thrilling.

Big, big wheel. We will be coming back for you.

I know there are tons of pictures now of the completed layout of the Hakugei, so the timing seemed ripe for me to post this report, because I took a bunch of pictures of what it looked like back in late June.

Our first stop of the day was Steel Dragon. Robb wanted to make sure we all got on this and Acrobat before he left us to ourselves. If the lines were bad, he planned to buy us fast passes. I will tell you that the line was NOT bad. But the operations for this ride were pretty rough. I guess there was an incident in 2003 with the trains and it shut down for 3 years after that. Maybe that contributes to the 1 train operations they generally always run or the way they load and dispatch trains. But it did seem awfully slow. No worries! We would be back after park close for some filming.


Looming in the distance is the prize jewel of the park (for me, anyway).

This picture is out of order in that its from our filming session at the end of the day. But yeah, I ain't moving it. I'm really in love with this shot Robb's rider cam caught of me! Never really had a cool 'on ride photo' before this.

Not my picture, (sorry Elissa) but I needed to at least explain the Bobkarts here a bit better. Basically, as with most things in the park, it was built for capacity. There were two separate tracks. You hop into the kart and I believe you have a lever or something to control the speed. And you move pretty quickly around the steel trough and it is really really just a fun couple minutes. I would LOVE if other parks had these.

Does this look familiar to anyone?

Another shot of Demon Drop.


So earlier, it was not open. We stopped back over after we saw it cycling and...

It was open!

Ever since playing Roller Coaster Tycoon (obsessively), I had a fascination with this ride. In retrospect, I kind of hate that RCT made the stats for this ride unreasonably bad (impossible to get a decent excitement), because they're not half bad at all. The mechanics of it are kind of ridiculous and imperfect, but it is almost charming in a way (same with the 1st gen Intamin drop towers, in that it is clear they have discovered better ways to get you up the tower).

We explored the pretty screwed up haunted walk thru. It was ridiculous as ever. This was kind of the only dark ride type thing at the park (at least that I know of). A bit unusual for a Japanese park. But again, this place felt pretty different in not a bad way..


Lunch was some more Katsu Curry. It was like $10 for this and it came with a salad. In a park. And it was tasty!

Here is where you go to eat at this park. Don't mess this up.

Now for something TOTALLY different. They have two enormous viking ships at the park that duel.

A THRILLING POWERED COASTER. Gotta at least ride it to say we did, I guess.


They had one of these odd bouncy house type things, but it looked way more fun. However, once the group inside was done, the lady informed us we were too old. That's okay..... I can totally respect that we don't belong on this.

But this. This was a must ride, I felt. Unfortunately, my group disagreed.

Stopped in a gift shop. They did have quite a bit of merchandise that was specific to the park, which up to this point (except Universal) was pretty uncommon. You'd be lucky most places to find a single item that was specifically branded to the park (e.g. a keychain). Largely, they just sold... stuff. But yeah, this is a great shirt.

Another little free play area to ride little vehicles around.

Another shot that isn't great, but it gives some scale to the Viking Ship as sits next to the 'kiddie' pirate ship (normal full size).

Yeah, this is just insanity.

Here is the thing with Nagashima. Every ride pretty much you get a stretchy band with a key for the fluffy, fluffy bunny filled with medicine and goo to put your stuff in. This ride was clearly retrofitted with the fluffy, fluffy bunnies filled with medicine and goo, because the way they load it is a bit crazy. Instead of people exiting into the middle area between the two ships and then the gate opening at each row to let in new guests, they have to exit people out the way they came in. In other words, guests in line wait to pick a row until after everyone leaves. Seems to kind of detract form the decision to install two 160 person pirate ships. But alas. I rode (in the middle because I hate these things). It was very... tame... the hype and the scale of it is just kind of hype.

Think I was on the powered monorail cute thing from before.

An actually good picture!

Jet Coaster was slated to be down for the day for maintenance. There were certainly other coasters that could've been down, so this was sad but no big deal. The maintenance crew did cycle trains and they rode 1 per row with hard hats on. Which was amusing.

A little resting area set up in the park. Folks just sleeping.


Think there now a ton of pictures here from the Ferris Wheel, so I hope they are decent.

Huge huge Pittsburg Plunge ride (yeah I actually call these rides that no matter where they are).



Another park set on the water.

They had a power tower, too!

Oh! There is Mr. Looping Star.

The park has such a ridiculous set of high capacity rides. And when they aren't, they make them high capacity. Two wild mouses, two viking ships, two Turnpike rides (again, Kennywood). Also, the Turknpike ride hauled. It was more like a go kart on a controlled track.




Some more photos of what is sure to be a great addition to the park. If I had it my way, I would've enjoyed riding White Cyclone OR this new beast while I was there. Unfortunately, I must return. What a tragedy.



After the Ferris Wheel, I used the remaining little meal coupon I think we got for some ice cream. It was really good, as expected. I love me some matcha.


More flats!

Well played.


A beauty.

After close, we did some filming on Acrobat, Steel Dragon, and this. Arashi.

I had been on Green Lantern at SFMM and I really did not care for that. For me, this thing was awful. A couple other tall people agreed. It busted my balls like crazy and it just was a bit too much. I can totally see how folks could enjoy it. But this was a one and done for Taylor.

My last picture from the park is of a vending machine. I dunno if you can see the prices, but yeah. Affordable.

Here was our hotel. In fact, it was actually just a couple floors at the top of the building. The first bit was an electronics store.

The hotel was super convenient to Nagoya Station.

That night, we set out for dinner at a place called Midtown BBQ. It looked solid. Couldn't find any pricing but it ended up being good but super pricey (as was this whole area by Nagoya Station). Four of us split the Dinosaur Platter which came with chicken, pork, sausage, ribs, cole slaw, and chili fries. I did not take a picture of it. But it was roughly $100 and was very underwhelming in portion size. Just about everything that they described came out in a smaller portion than we anticipated. But it was an American style bbq place and I guess meat just isn't consumed on that kind of scale usually. Also, a liter of Sapporo was like $15. I did not partake in beer here. BUT.

We stumbled upon Kirin City. Which had much more affordable options. They did have frozen drafts, but I did not try.

My beer came to me... well-poured. It was actually pretty solid.

I will leave you with a great anecdote about how the only time I truly got sick in Japan from food was from American style BBQ. I felt a okay until the middle of the night and yeah. Not good. But everything else I ate... no problems. So with that, thanks for reading and following along! We got some really good parks still to come. Disney is getting closer!

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Re: Taylor's Japan Adventures 2018

Postby SharkTums » Tue Mar 05, 2019 8:25 am

Just getting caught up...

The log flume was closed at Hirakata because it actually had damage from the earthquake a few days prior! Props to the rest of the park for getting everything open and running when Hirakata was VERY close to the epicenter of the strong quake.

Nagashima is a ridiculous Japanese version of CP and getting the RMC just makes it even funnier!

The vending machine prices annoy me so much!!! How is it just fine and it works awesome in Japan, but in the US Six Flags and Cedar Fair will charge me $5 for a medium soda with mostly ice!?!

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Re: Taylor's Japan Adventures 2018

Postby Canobie Coaster » Tue Mar 05, 2019 9:42 am

Great report! The Steel Dragon ERT session was my favorite of the trip because of the operations you mentioned and because it was a great ride.

I really liked the aerial shots from the wheel.
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Re: Taylor's Japan Adventures 2018

Postby 805Andrew » Tue Mar 05, 2019 1:33 pm

Taylor Finn wrote: I actually just signed up for Bokksu, which is a subscription box filled with Japanese snacks. Gonna give it a shot. Need a little fix.

Let us know how that is. I hadn't heard of that box before but I just signed up for six months of Tokyo Treat's premium boxes which include a drink as well as snacks and candy. I compared the past Tokyo Treat and Japan Crate boxes that were sent out and Tokyo Treat looked like it had the better drink choices overall and Japan Crate looked like it was sending out a lot of snacks that I could get at Asian grocery stores in the LA or Bay Area so I went with Tokyo Treat.

Taylor Finn wrote:I will leave you with a great anecdote about how the only time I truly got sick in Japan from food was from American style BBQ.

I didn't miss American food at all when I was in Japan and stuck mostly to Japanese and other Asian cuisines or whatever foods Japanese in general were good at (they do French pastries really well). If I went to an American fast food chain like McDs or KFC (which I did a few times) I only got the menu items I couldn't get at their US locations. With yakitori and the various forms of Japanese BBQ I have no desire to try American style BBQ in Japan but it looks like you learned your lesson. Great report by the way.
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