Japan: The Land of Bonkers Theme Parks, Otakus, and Nice People

Ah, what a holiday it was. Nine days in the place that Kris and I that had wanted to go to for many years. We went to two of the world’s best theme parks. We ate the most sublime sushi that we had ever eaten. And we loved every minute of it. I am quite tired from all of our travelling, so I am just going to give a quick run-down of both the good and not-so-good things about Japan that we discovered in our all-too-short time in that wonderful country. I will undoubtedly miss things out, but I will do a more lengthy post later in the week, telling the tale of our time in the magical land that is Japan.

The Good:

– Theme Parks: We went to two different theme parks, Universal Studios Japan and Fuji-Q Highland. Universal was a soft, warm dose of nostalgia through attractions based on famous movie franchises such as Harry Potter, Back to the Future, and Jurassic Park. Fuji-Q was like a line of pure adrenaline taken in a dirty back alley, with four of their coasters holding world records. I went from 0-179 kilometers per hour in 1.8 seconds. It was manic. Both parks are reason enough to plan a trip to Japan, never mind all of the other things we did.

– Food: Japanese food is far more varied than South Korean fare, and there are far fewer American chains in the country. Our personal favourite was sushi at Tsukiji Fish Market. The sushi was made from fish that came out of the sea a matter of hours before it landed on our plate, crafted by a sushi master with twenty-three years of experience. All other sushi will pale in comparison to that.

– Japanese people: The Japanese are a warm, welcoming people, eager to help those that are visiting their country. There were at least four occasions when Kris and I were lost and observant Japanese passersby helped us find our way. We were even helped to our Tokyo accommodation by a semi-drunken man and a waitress from a local pub. They walked the streets for half an hour until we finally found the correct address.

– Japanese Obsessions: Anyone interested in anime, Hello Kitty, manga, gaming, or anything else Japanese will not be disappointed by the support of their particular flavour of otaku. From four-storey arcades, to miniature theme parks dedicated to anime and manga characters, Japan knows what your poison is, and it is more than willing to supply it to you.

The Not-So-Good:

– Temples: Coming from Korea, the majority of Buddhist temples look remarkably similar, and those in Japan were no different. However, there were exceptions to this, most notably at Fushimi Inari, a shrine where over ten thousand hand-carved wooden gates stand on the side of a mountain in honour of the fox messenger to the gods, ‘kitsune’.

– The Imperial Garden in Tokyo: Hailed by several travel websites, we found it a tad disappointing, little more than a blur of green and brown. Maybe we were just tired.

All told, our time in Japan was unforgettable, and we will most certainly tell our children stories of this holiday. As mentioned above, I will definitely do a detailed post, elaborating on what we did each day, at some point this week. Right now, however, I simply want to sit, enjoy the last few minutes of freedom before work tomorrow, and reminisce fondly on our amazing holiday. Keep an eye out for more exciting details about Japan!

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