🌸USJ and Harry Potter World🌸

Well, ladies, gentlemen, and other such creatures, yours truly recently deigned to make the trip to the glorious city of Osaka to fulfil a geeky dream long overdue – visiting Harry Potter World. I got lost in those magical books many years ago, enjoyed the films, and longed to be able to walk down the streets of my imagination. So, with three weeks off and a summer to spare, I decided to go make that dream a reality in Japan’s Universal Studios.

The studios are very epic, I’ll give them that. Even shrivelled up as a raisin, dehydrated and dead on my feet, I couldn’t help but being taken aback by the scale of this park. Epic score music from Universal classics blasted from HQ speakers, reverberating off the walls, buildings and statues of grand proportions capturing the eye to better draw out the imagination. As a 26 year old, this theme park is hardly made with my tastes in mind, and yet I found it entertaining and interesting. I can only imagine what it must be for a child.

As I said, I mainly came to USJ for Harry Potter, so I didn’t explore too many of the other rides and areas. That, and mostly my foolhardy attempt to walk across Osaka during noon on a hot summer’s day, pretty much set it in stone that I was passed out on a park bench, chain drinking water and Pocari Sweat, surrounded by my elders three to four times my age, silently shaming me for my weakness.

However, the promised hour came at last (for you actually have to book a time slot in which to enter Harry Potter World since it is so busy), and I raised my soggy bottom from the bench and made my wary way to the entrance. As tired and sweaty as I was, I couldn’t help having my spirits lifted by hearing the Harry Potter soundtrack being carried invisibly through a clearing in the woods. I was first met with the famous Ford Angela, at which point I felt myself grow ten years younger, skipping class in the school lunch room to read Harry Potter for the first time. And then… Well, pictures speak louder than words.

On top of all that, there was also an AMAZING 3-D ride in the actual Hogwarts castle. Unfortunately, no phones or cameras were allowed inside, so I can’t show you any pictures, but as far as amusement rides go, this one was top dog. You take a nice walk through Hogwarts castle at first, seeing some classic sights such as the Mirror of Erised, Dumbledore’s office, the Gryffindor common room, the portrait of the Fat Lady, and many more. Then you get on this 3-D ride which takes you on an exhilarating flight through and over Hogwarts castle, a fight with a Hungarian Horntail, several dementors, the Chamber of Secrets, and Aragog’s lair. Five minutes never went by so quickly.

All in all, an absolutely great experience. I hear tale that the one in Orlando is even more impressive, so I look forward to making that comparison some day. In the meanwhile, if you are considering checking this out, let me make a few suggestions. Preferably, do this sometime outside of July and August. For one, it is ridiculously hot during those months in Japan, and even more so in Osaka. Furthermore, USJ is still one of the premier attractions in Asia, so people from China, Korea, and South-East Asia also pour in during the tourist season. I definitely had a great time, but there was a lot of times I felt hurried to get in and get out due to the vast crowds constantly pouring in and out of every attraction. It is really, REALLY crowded. And if you can go in the winter, I imagine it would be nothing short of magical, what with there being less people so you can take your time being absorbed into the world you know and love, but also imagine a Hogsmeade covered in genuine snow. Also, don’t forget to book yourself an Express Pass way in advance so you don’t have to wait 1-3 hours per ride. My friends got there at 10 AM and they were already sold out. So you can get a pretty good idea how busy it can get.

Anywho, that’s my little bit for that adventure. Hope I perked someone’s interest!

🌸Nokogiri Yama🌸

Ladies, gents, and other such creatures, it would appear that I have at last succumbed to the temptations of lifestyle blogging – or at least a combination of late movie releases and pretty cool shit happening in my life have made me do so. Journeymen, beware! Turn back now, before you fall victim to the self aggrandizing babbles and cute Snow Monkey pictures (coming soon™️).
So aside from doing movie-related reviews, I’ve decided to do a bit of J-blogging. My sassy Canadian ass has recently settled into the land of robots, panties vending machines, and real-life Pikachus. Ah, Japan. Land of all things kawaii and absurdly weird. It’s any lifestyle blogger’s wet dream come true. Japanese culture being so distinct, weird, admirable, deplorable, fun, quirky, strange, and everything else under the sun, really. It’s the land of 1001 contradictions. I hope during my stay here I can discover quite a few of them, and I look forward to sharing them with you 🙂

Today’s segment is going to be focused on Nokogiri Yama! The biggest, and hands down the most famous mountain in my currently native, Chiba!

If you’re looking for some outdoorsy stuff to do, and I always am, Nokogiri Yama is a good place to go. Nokogiri Yama is located in southern Chiba, on the East side of Tokyo bay. (Map link at the end of the article.)

Nokogiri Yama, which more or less translates into Wood Saw Mountain got its name by its jagged appearance. Some parts of the mountain were/are being used as stone quarries, and thus give it quite the jagged look.

Despite its name, the mountain is actually quite lovely. It’s 329.5 meters at the summit, making it a great hike. On foot and at a steady pace, it takes about two and a half to three hours to reach the summit depending on what shape you’re in. The paths teem with lush greenery, thick gorgeous forests, and all sorts of shy but curious wild life. Alas, no monkeys yet, but a Tanooki did deign to show itself, though sadly my camera reflexes were not at ninja par yet.

Nokogiri-Yama Carved Rocks

For those of you wary of physical endeavours that distinguish themselves from a tumbling trip between the couch and the fridge, worry not, you’ve been thought of! If you want to explore the lovely mountain but not fill buckets of sweat, you can grab the lift at the base of the mountain which will take you about 80% to the summit. It’s only ¥500 and you will get quite the view in a three minute ride.

Nokogiri Yama Lift
Lazy people rejoice!

The summit is well worth the effort, as you have a clear overview of the quaint little Kanaya town at the base of the mountain, as well as Tokyo bay. On a clear day you can see Yokosuka across the water.

Now, besides the bragging rights that you will take home from your grueling nine-hour trek (wink, wink, nudge, nudge), and the gorgeous view shown above, there is also another wow-factor to this cool little place. There is also a huge Buddha carving in the rock, as well as what I was told is the world’s 23rd biggest stone statue, I believe finished in 1783. It claims a height of 31.05 meters.

And, if you’re not sold yet, here are some images of the beauty I found while I was there:

Now, lastly, but possibly most importantly. For all you fat-at-heart people like me, the noble House of Gonzo must be mentioned. Believe I when I say, after a five to six hour trek, you are going to be one hungry creature. About a ten to fifteen minute walk from the start of the mountain, is an absolutely must-visit pizzeria called Pizza Gonzo. It is run by this hipstery-looking couple, or siblings, or both if you are into GoT. They are really chill and pleasant, especially if you have a bit of Japanese to spare for banter. To be honest, thus far I haven’t been too impressed with the Japanese take on pizza, so I wasn’t too excited when I first walked through its doors. But in retrospect, as hungry as I was, taste wasn’t really a factor. Well, let me tell you, this is hands down the best pizza I’ve eaten in quite some time, and definitely the best pizza I’ve had in Japan. It’s authentic, Italian-style thin-crust pizza. They have a great selection of pizzas, and each of them distinctly delicious. By the end of your trek, you will feel like an absolute nature-hardened savage, and let me tell you, when the smell of baking dough, olive oil, cheese, and any other little bit of deliciousness wafts your way, you will be grateful you took the time to read this one last paragraph.

Anywho, that is my first spiel on things Japanese and such. Please let me know if you found it interesting and/or if you would like to see more. I’m also open to suggestions as to what I should cover next. And if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to comment below 🙂

Google Maps link to Nokogiri Yama:

Google Maps Link to Gonzo’s Pizza: