So remember how I mentioned that one time about our spontaneously planned trip one weekend to Universal Studios Japan (USJ) to see the One Piece show about my friend and I's favorite character Ace? Yeah, that happened this weekend. And it was a glorious, wallet-destroying adventure. But let's start at the very beginning, which is a very good place to start...
The plan was simple: get out of work Friday, take the bullet train to Kansai and stay with David in Kyoto, wake up early on Saturday to spend a BAMF day in USJ, and take the much cheaper (and longer) local trains back home Sunday at some point. And did this plan fall apart at the seams like the return from Sapporo? No! It just got more awesome.
So first we rode the bullet train (just to give you a general idea; price: $100, time to get there:2 hours) to Kyoto Station Friday after work. Then we followed David's helpful directions to his house, which was about a 40 minute train ride from the downtown of Kyoto. David was out, so they key was taped in the inside of the mailbox, and I almost dropped it in, but happily I didn't and we safely arrived and could prepare ourselves to wake up early for awesomeness.
And we did just that: we got up early and got our nerd on, heading to USJ when it opened. We ran into one small problem that morning, however: breakfast. We had enough time that we didn't need to eat convenience store food for breakfast, and in the country where restaurants just don't do breakfast, we found ourselves on a quest for the McDonald's. Luckily, we were heading to USJ, a Western establishment! Of course there would be a McDonald's!
Well, we could see it on the map, but we couldn't find it. Standing in the front of USJ's City Walk, the map said that the McD's was in the basement of one of the hotels. So we circle around and go in said hotel, no luck. Continuing to circle, we managed to find a matching sign near the hotel parking lot. Progress? So we go in the basement (and are bombarded by students who were leaving from their school trip. But don't worry, there were plenty more students in USJ lol) and take the elevator to the floor that says it has the damn McDonald's. We walk out the hotel, turn left, and there it is! ...about five hundred feet from where we started, right on the City Walk. If we would've just kept walking...sigh. But yeah, so McD's fail #1, but we got food! Woo!
So in case you don't know, this July, Harry Potter is coming to USJ. Get. Excited. ((As I'm typing this, it is July and I am excited)) So we got to see all the Harry Potter hype (and the castle surrounded by cranes) while we were there (and rest assured, we will be back this summer lol). So mission #1 was to try to get tickets to Sanji's restaurant. There was basically a character lunch/dinner you could get tickets for (early if you were a USJ member, the day of if you weren't), and we wanted to see what said actor would do with a pair of foreigners...but it was sold out, probably before the park even opened. But it was okay, because we already had the most important tickets in our possession: the tickets for the One Piece Premier Show, that evening at 7. So until then, we entertained ourselves around USJ. Yay!
We hit the most popular thing first. USJ has a rollercoaster that plays music while you ride; I've mentioned this before. However, in 2013 USJ added a new feature to said coaster: the ability to ride it backwards. Some trains were on the track facing forwards, and some were not. Yes.
So obviously we get in line for the backwards first. And here's something weird. Last time we were here, they were ridiculously strict about having stuff in your pockets. Like, you had to get rid of everything before even getting in line. This time, you could have whatever you wanted in line, and there was a bag space on the platform. Your pockets just needed to be empty...but I rode with my glasses on every time. Weird.
Anyway, the sign said 170 minute wait, but we really only waited about 70. Lol pretty significant difference, but I had no problems with this. I didn't want to choose any of the Western music choices (Madonna, I Cry by Usher, other people I don't know, etc.) so I picked Battery by SMAP, which is a popular J-pop/rock group in Japan. It fit well, and I'll be getting that song haha. So lucky us, we got placed in the last car (back frontcar?) so it was pretty terrifying going up the hill, but it was SO MUCH fun. The restraints were a bit terrifying too, in that there was no actual belt, just the weight bar like for Millennium Force or Top Thrill Dragster, so I was like .... but it was fun.
Next, we ambled over to the Jurassic Park ride, which is a water ride where you really don't get wet. Well lucky me, I was sitting on the end of the car, so I got wet. Only on my right side. Sigh. We also rode SpiderMan and Space Fantasy (which is like Space Mountain with spinning, and we were still kinda traumatized from backwards rollercoaster so when the car spun for us to go backwards down the hill we were kinda freaking out but it was cute). Then we decided to get lunch at the One Piece themed restaurant of course (the one that was quick-service and needed to reservation). When we went there was a character (Usopp) there at the time actually, but we did not want to talk to him so we ate outside instead. :D
We still had lots of time, so we rode the rollercoaster forwards this time (shorter line, ridiculously so). We rode this to One Direction: Live While We're Young which was just hilarious. Then we waited longer for the Jaws ride than we did for the forwards coaster.
After Jaws we walked towards the area where the One Piece show would be that evening to take a picture at the special One Piece photo spot area (XD). In Japan, if you go to a special photo spot they take your picture once with your camera and once with theirs. And people still buy theirs. But this one we were actually probably going to buy because it was a special one and all that. On the way, we stopped at a face/body art tattoo place and got special One Piece art for our picture with Ace. (We got the Ace symbol, so the worker at the photo place was like Ace. Ace. Ace. 3 Aces?! It was cute). Picture taken, with all the time to kill (USJ is kinda teeny actually) we rode the rollercoaster backwards again before going to buy all the goods.
Moment of complaint: when we first found out about this event, we looked on the goods website: there was a color-changing mug of awesome, and I was excited to get it. (If you don't know, in a country with no shot glasses, my love for shot glasses has mutated into a love for mugs) I shouldn't have waited, because it was sold out both online and in store when we were there. >.< But I have enough goods I can swim in them, so it's okay.
Next, food time! Last time I was here, the pizza place randomly had fried Mac-and-Cheese bites. Unfortunately, they did not this time. Sad. But, we were hungry enough that one slice of pizza would not be enough, but two slices cost as much as half the price of a whole pizza...so we bought a whole pizza and ate it. Foreigner power!
It was finally time to head over to the show! Woo~! It was being held in their water show area, so we were wondering how the copious amounts of water would fit into the show, but they did really well with it! The actual show's voice actors pre-recorded the dialogue for the show, so the actors had to mouth along with the tape...which they did a good job at doing as long as you weren't right on top of them. The actors resembled their animated counterparts as well. Now I'm going to talk about the plot of the show, so if you don't know One Piece, just skip this bit:
So the point of the show was to have another opportunity for an adventure with Ace, and they did a good job at fitting it into the plot of the show. It started with them heading to Dressrosa, after Punk Hazard, and Luffy fell asleep reminiscing about another adventure he had with Ace when they met Doflamingo previously, which is the show. Flashback to Seabody, and Hancock gets captured for the human auction because DF wants something special for the world nobles at the auction. Luffy tries to save her, but DF takes over his crew and Ace comes to help Luffy kick some ass. (There's also some awesomeness where Handsome and his gang help search for Hancock (and save Luffy in the water) by being awesome on jet skis) DF says we'll meet again in Dressrosa and oh hey end flashback.
So at the end of the show they played a lot of the songs from the show. Fortuitously, our seats were at the end of a row and we were able to high five characters as they passed down the aisle (Sanji, Zoro, Franky, Luffy, Ace) So that was fun.
After the show, we headed to the Jump Shop on the City Walk to buy (more) things, and then (after the helpful store lady guided us), did some One Piece purikura:
Then we came home, played some video games, and got some much needed rest.
The next morning, we got up early to head home, aiming to be home at 4:40 by the normal trains (Price: $56 dollars, Time: 5.5 hours). We had 2 goals to accomplish in Kyoto Station before we left: breakfast, and Hakuouki store.
A couple months ago, a new movie came out for an anime/video game I enjoy called Hakuouki. It's setting is Kyoto, so for celebration/promotion there's a teeny little store in the station with goods. What convenient timing.
So thanks to David's help we find that no problem and I spend all the money. ^.^ Next, breakfast. McDonald's. It's in Kyoto Station, but where? Cue the manhunt for McDonald's fail #2. We finally find it after some circles and backtracking, and they were no longer selling breakfast, but who even cares at that point. Now we know all the McD's locations for when we come back in the summer for HP and more One Piece magic.
Then we hop on the trains and head home (which after Sapporo, 5.5 hours on a train is nothing). But is the adventure over, ladies and gentlemen? No! Arriving home at 4:40 means we had just enough time to throw our bags in a locker at the station and see the 5:05 showing of The Amazing Spiderman 2. Because how often does a movie come out in Japan before America? Practically never. And then what better way to finish an awesome weekend than sing some karaoke for 2 hours when we were too tired to go after USJ?
(Tuesday was a national holiday, and I slept until 1, which I haven't done since coming to Japan. I wonder why.)
P.S. It was so hot, we didn't need jackets. Aw yeah, Osaka XP