Thank you for the last three days. You were great. What a wonderful intro to an incredible country. Your city streets were alive with excitement and eye-candy. Of all that we did and saw, three things stand out. One was planned, the others spontaneous.
First: Universal Studios, Japan
The Harry Potter fans that we are, how could we resist visiting Japanese Hogwarts?
|Spot-on view of Hogwarts across the Lake.
|Shayna finding her wand. Photo-op only.
Somehow we got lucky.
We arrived at USJ around 7 on a Monday morning and joined the throngs of people standing at the gates. Around 720/730, the express pass guests were released into the park. We could see them running through the bars toward their desired rides. Then, at 745, they let us in, too.
|New Hello Kitty Crown?
We continued our exploration of the park, stopping here and there as we walked through different sections and laughing at some of the items sold in the shops and booths. A lot of people were wearing different head gear (hats, headbands, crowns). It was definitely a fun atmosphere, although Shayna and I found that the actual number of rides was a little discouraging. Two or three per-section and yet five or six shops to bleed you dry…
Still, no regrets.
Second: the Cosplay
|Who are these people? No idea. Ha.
|This was part of the main street that held a parade, but a number of side streets were also full of characters and spectators.
|A couple of characters posing for cameras.
The streets were packed and the costumes impressive. Professional photographers crowded around some of the more impressive costumes and the cosplayers themselves posed with mini-signs asking for twitter followers or Instagram or something (the signs were mostly in Japanese but that’s what it looked like). While we didn’t know all of what was going on: What was the general layout of everything? Was there a central hub? Were there theme areas? Was there a costume contest somewhere? Despite these and other questions, it was still a wicked experience, especially as cosplayers ranged in ages, genres and nationalities. It was cool seeing how people put time and effort into assembling different costumes.
|The Spider Crew.
|Another unknown, but a wicked costume.
When Shayna was in Korea back in February, she mentioned in passing that it would be cool to go to a Sumo Match. She did a bit of research and learned that (a) there is this tournament happening during the entire month of March in Osaka and (b) it was really hard to get reserved seat tickets (especially as a foreigner), but that General Admission tickets could be bought for same day admission first thing in the morning.
|Waiting in the rain for tickets to go on sale! No idea what the banners actually say...
|We got tickets! General Admission is only in the four corners of the area (dark purple seats).
|Around 830 when things were still being set up. Really, nowhere had a "bad" view. Just a "bad photo" view.
|Watching a bout.
It was a really cool experience and I would consider going again, hopefully with someone who could help explain the finer points of the sport. That, or after I do more research.
All in all, Shayna and I are stoked for the next phase of our trip. Onward to Nara and Kyoto!
Thanks again, Osaka. For the crowds, the costumes, and the half-naked men.
Love and Hugs