To the Koshien.

So let’s finish this! I miss Japan terribly. We’re already thinking about the next trip to Japan, in a couple of years, and it’s going to be even better than before.

I still have photos from Ireland and Paris to post…! But let’s visit Japan now.

After a wonderful day at Universal Studios, we took the first train out to Osaka, where we walked around a bit and ate our lunch before heading to the Koshien stadium with Atsuko and her boyfriend.

Still in Universal's premises.
Still in Universal’s premises.
We miss you, Japanese rollercoasters!
We miss you, Japanese rollercoasters!

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Being at Koshien stadium was like a dream come true for me. I am a big Mitsuru Adachi fan, who, for those of you who don’t know, is one of the best and most famous mangakas, whose mangas focus mainly on sports, namely, baseball. So I’ve been reading baseball mangas for a very long time, and just like any character in those mangas, going to a game at the Koshien was the ultimate goal.

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Cold soba. Delicious.
Cold soba. Delicious.
Eel for keoshi.
Eel for keoshi.

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And it did not disappoint one bit. Completely humongous and full of fans dressed appropriately with tiny plastic bats to make some noise while the game was on. There were also girls going around all the time serving beer. Now let’s pause here for a second. I haven’t been in other stadiums or games in any other country besides Portugal, but from my experience, taking plastic bats and drinking alcohol during a game would be a one way ticket to a bloody death at the stands, so I was absolutely amazed, once again, with how civilised Japanese are.

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The whole experience was stunning. From eating out of bento boxes to happily celebrate the wins of Hanshin Tigers with everyone around us, to letting go of worm like balloons to celebrate the last point was just an amazing experience, one that we are definitely not going to forget.

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There are no words to describe what was really felt by us during nearly four hours. Definitely unforgettable. And here are some videos (with the iPhone 5s)!

Hope you enjoyed it! Come back tomorrow for more!

Universal Studios in Japan

I hope you all had a wonderful christmas! I had a really good Christmas with lots of really nice little things, for me and the baby. I really can’t wait to finish the photos from Japan, so I can start uploading more recent photos. This year is going to be very different from all other years so I want to properly document every little detail — not al of them are going to be posted here, of course, but at least a few, yes.

So there are only a couple of batches more to finish the photos from Japan, which also saddens me a bit… but that’s life. Gotta move on.

This post will show you only a small part of this very wonderful day spend at Universal Studios in Japan. On a complete whim, we decided we should take the opportunity of visiting the park because The Wizarding World of Harry Potter had just opened a few days after we arrived in Japan, so we just had to take a look.

It wasn’t as easy as standing in a line to go in, unfortunately. Everyone should have the opportunity to access that part of the park once you get tickets, but it doesn’t really work like that. We quickly learned that we would only go in the Harry Potter park by sheer luck. They would give out lottery tickets that would maybe give you access. We went insane. Basically we got up at 5 am, travelled all the way from Tokyo, booked a hotel in the park, *just* to see the Harry Potter theme park and we might not get a chance to even take a look.

We had to get really nasty and we experienced part of the Japanese culture that, even though we knew it existed, was surprisingly unpleasant for us foreigners. I do not want to go much into it because after everything was solved, we sort of promised we wouldn’t talk about it — even though I was so pissed off that my initial intention was to let the whole world know what was going on — and the guy who tried his best to help us was really really nice, so…

I know this is all very very very vague, but I just wanted to say the minimum, meaning, do not buy tickets specifically to just see the Harry Potter part of the park. You might not get in. If you want more info about this drop me a line. 

aaaand having said that, here are the photos!

Harajuku station, veeeery early in the morning.
Harajuku station, veeeery early in the morning.
Osaka in the horizon.
Osaka in the horizon.
and here we go in!
and here we go in!

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Jurassic park ride: this was aaaaaawesome! Exactly like the movie!
Jurassic park ride: this was aaaaaawesome! Exactly like the movie!

Before we hit the Jurassic park ride we went to the Back to the Future one, where we met a Swedish girl who was studying in Japan. She was very very very red from the sun and limping from hurt feet and she stuck to us like glue. Don’t ask why. After the ride she was excitingly asking ‘so where are we going next??’ and we knew we were doomed. She talked too much and didn’t seem to have any other plans but to be stuck to us for the rest of the day… After the Jurassic Park ride we got proper wet so we took the opportunity to try get ourselves dry(ish) and we sort of, kind of…lost her.

If by a crazy odd chance you (Swedish girl) are reading this, we really did lose sight of you! Sorry…!

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you could take pictures with an upside hanging down spider man, but there was a line...
you could take pictures with an upside hanging down spider man, but there was a line…

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Highball! This word still gets us to laugh these days.
Highball! This word still gets us to laugh these days.

Japanese like to get drunk and they like to get drunk fast. This is a clever blend between some sort of soda and… whiskey. After all we’d been through with the Harry Potter tickets we felt we needed it, and needless to say we were laughing our asses off just a few minutes after this.

And already inside Wizarding World, this is Mr. Weasley's enchanted car — so basically you get in through the Forbidden Forest, which is actually very very dense, completely hiding the other part of the park.
And already inside Wizarding World, this is Mr. Weasley’s enchanted car — so basically you get in through the Forbidden Forest, which is actually very very dense, completely hiding the other part of the park.
Hogsmeade ahead! This was soooooo exciting!
Hogsmeade ahead! This was soooooo exciting!
Hogwarts' express!
Hogwarts’ express!
More hogsmeade.
More hogsmeade.
TCHAN! Hogwarts! This was absolutely amazing.
TCHAN! Hogwarts! This was absolutely amazing.

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Olivander's shop.
Olivander’s shop.
And inside Olivander's, exactly like the movie.
And inside Olivander’s, exactly like the movie.
I have to say that when I read the books, I always imagined Olivander's as being much more messy in terms of wand boxes, but this was close enough.
I have to say that when I read the books, I always imagined Olivander’s as being much more messy in terms of wand boxes, but this was close enough.
Hagrid's hut, which was exactly the same.
Hagrid’s hut, which was exactly the same.
Here it is!
Here it is!

The park was absolutely brilliant. It was completely secluded from the rest of the park and it really felt like you were in another world, completely different and very magical. All scenery was spot on, with tiny little details that made everything look even more real. As we were lining up for the Hogwarts ride (we didn’t know it was a ride) we go in through the Herbology class premisses, with Madrakes screaming their lungs out and other sort of things. We go in the castle through a corridor and the gargoyle that guards the Headsmaster’s office can be seen at the end. After that we drop our bags all sort of belongings (hence why I don’t have any pictures from the inside), and go through a number of different classrooms and places until we reach the Gryffindor’s common room, where we get in line again for the ride.

The ride itself is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. Even K was screaming next to me. It was a broom ride behind Harry and his buddies, with sudden and very (freaking) close encounters with giant spiders and Dementors. In the end we see the entire school clapping for you because you were able to go through with it. You get off in the Great Hall with flying enchanted candles and all, and a completely new person.

I loved it.

Hogwarts by night.
Hogwarts by night.
Owl post - this was brilliant!
Owl post – this was brilliant!
Brooms.
Brooms.
Checking the latest sales.
Checking the latest sales.
And we finished our day at Hard Rock Cafe.
And we finished our day at Hard Rock Cafe.
Everything was delicious!
Everything was delicious!
The surroundings of the park.
The surroundings of the park.

Now I wanna read Harry Potter again.

Hope you liked this one!

 

Go Tigers! and back to Tokyo.

I don’t know how to play baseball, I’ve never watched a baseball game, I never held a baseball hat… But I’ve read enough baseball mangas to get a feel of the game. Hanshin Tigers and the Koshien stadium where no strangers to me, ever since I was a teenager, so being able to sit there and watch this game was incredible. It was definitely one of the high points of our trip. We had great fun , we suffered until the very end, and we won, the very last minute. Just like in a manga!
We have to thank Atsuko once again, because she was the one who bought us tickets and took us to the stadium. We had a terrific time!

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more pics after the jump