FLASHBACK FRIDAY | Universal Studios Japan and Butterbeer

FLASHBACK FRIDAY | Universal Studios Japan and Butterbeer

Never underestimate the Japanese’s love for their theme park. No matter how well you thought out your itinerary, thinking you’re saving yourself from the crowds by setting aside a weekday in Osaka to see Universal Studios, the Japanese will prove you wrong. There will be people, and they come in droves.

USJ ext 2
USJ ext 1
USJ crowd 1

But we didn’t mind the crowds, because we went here for the sole purpose of visiting the then newly opened Wizarding World of Harry Potter. We came early to USJ. Rode the train to get here, which was hard to miss because there was a Harry Potter wrapped around it.

USJ train
USJ train 2

We were planning to just enjoy the park and thin out the crowd we knew were also coming for the new section of the themepark. We arrived at the Harry Potter entrance, only to realize you need a timed ticket to get in the area. Universal Studios was managing the large crowd and you had to get tickets from the kiosk on the other side of the park for the Wizarding World. You need to get another ticket if you wanna see Harry Potter after already getting a ticket for USJ. We trekked all the way back to the kiosk at 1 pm, which spat out the ticket which enables us entrance at 4 pm!

After 3 hours of strolling aimlessly through USJ, we got back to the Wizarding World. And did not disappoint.

USJ harry potter 1
USJ harry potter 2

The whole area was lifted straight of the Harry Potter pages. As soon as you enter, the very familiar Harry Potter opening sequence soundtrack was playing setting the ambiance. You will feel like you’re walking straight to Hogsmeade. There was a store selling Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans, and that had a line. There was a ride inside the majestic looking Hogwarts, and that had a longer line. We settled for a still long, but manageable line selling butterbeer. We got to the end of the line and bought a pint to share in one of them souvenir plastic mugs. I’ve tasted many version of this Three Broomsticks drink, but none of them even came close to the one sold at The Wizarding World. If you were to ask me, USJ’s butterbeer tasted like melted Peter butter ball and sprite.

USJ Olivanders 2
USJ Olivanders

And then there was Ollivander’s, which was selling wands at JPY 3,500 each (or USD 30). It’s a little steep for something that will eventually gather dust in my home so I skipped and went back to my husband who was resting his tired feet and patiently waiting outside.

Jr: What’s inside?
Me: Wands.
Jr: Nice. Does it work?
Me: Ay, hindi ko napatesting. Wait, balikan ko.

Sabaw.


Universal Studios Japan
2 Chome-1-33 Sakurajima, Konohana Ward
Osaka, Japan

How we got here: We took the JR Yumesaki Line train to Universal City Station

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VIDEO | Osaka, Japan Travel Vlog – We Came, We Saw, We Ate

VIDEO | Osaka, Japan Travel Vlog – We Came, We Saw, We Ate

I thought that allocating 10 days for our first Japan trip was a little overkill. Jr, who is a workaholic, doesn’t like vacationing as much so this was all me, stretching it. I crafted an itinerary where we are able to see the highlights — those were actually interested in — as well as off-the-beaten sites catering to our interests. I’ve balanced my need to pack it all in Amazing Race style and Jr’s more laissez faire holiday attitude.

And then we got to Japan and realize immediately that 10 days are not enough. You will never see them all.

In our 10 days in Japan, we had two full days in set aside for Osaka. On our first day, we went to Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen museum, where we got to make our own cup noodles. After 3 years, those cup noodles remains untouched and will forever be memorabilias. I know, because I’m staring at them now while they sit up on top of our fridge.

Ramen 01

The next day, we went to Universal Studios Japan. Jr isn’t much of a rides person, and I was just content in walking through the park and taking in the sights while eating turkey legs along the way. This we did while we spent the day waiting to get inside The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. For a fan of both the books and the movies, it was kick seeing Hogsmeade and Hogwarts come to life and it was worth the long, long wait.

Universal Studios Japan, November 2014
Universal Studios Japan, November 2014

But Osaka isn’t known to be Japan’s Kitchen for nothing. Later on that night, we went to Dotonbori and ate everywhere we can eat. Takoyaki, Sushi carousels, Okonomiyaki — the motto was as long as there’s a line, and there’s food at the end of that line, we will fall in line.

Osaka – oishii desu!

Watch the video below:

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Flashback Friday | Hakata Ippudo in Osaka, Japan

Flashback Friday | Hakata Ippudo in Osaka, Japan

We just walked out to a very cold Osaka from the Instant Ramen Musuem. The intense line filled with cute Japanese kids out on a field trip made us hungry and we just wanted something to eat. It was settled. We are barging in the first place that barely resembles a restaurant.

“You know what, it’s nice to have ramen. This is Japan and we need to get ourselves some Ramen bowls! Wouldn’t it be crazy if we walked into an Ippudo right now?”

But hungry people in a strange foreign land where you can’t read anything on the marquees can’t be choosy. There were a couple of people that walked in a small bungalow by the curbside right in front of us. We peeked and it looked like a restaurant. We walked in and got seated at a common table with two teenage girls and two men who seemed to be out for work lunch. We’ve been to a couple of ramen shops in Manila, and the place looks vaguely familiar. Actually, we walked into what looked like any Ramen shop you’d find in Manila, except every table, including the bar is shared. We were approached by one of the servers with his order taking, very high-techie Japanese device, and to his disappointment, we asked for an English menu.

Ippudo Osaka Japan

We were handed one, and what do you know? We walked into an Ippudo.

That’s why everything looked familiar.

Ippudo Osaka JapanIppudo GyozaIppudo Ramen

Yes, I am unabashedly one of those annoying people who loves to compare if things tastes the same or entirely different from one place to another. We got the gyoza and I tried my usual order here — the classic hakata with pork belly and tamago in Osaka, and I am glad to report, you’re not missing out on anything.

…Except we don’t get autumn here and there are no words to describe having a glorious hot bowl of Ippudo ramen in a crisp fall afternoon.

Told you I was one of those annoying people.


Ippudo
2-10 Masumicho (near the Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum)
Ikeda, Osaka Prefecture 563-0041, Japan

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FLASHBACK FRIDAY | Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum

FLASHBACK FRIDAY | Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum

I find it weird when people ask me for itineraries. It’s good to know that they regard me as a sort of an expert in that field, and I know I should kind of be flattered, but I honestly just don’t. And I’m giving the same reasons why you’ll never see me post an entire itinerary here on my blog, ever.¬†One, because for me, it’s work, and asking them from me feels I’m Colonel Sanders and you’re asking me for the the 11 spices in my fried chicken. Two, because outside of work, I take so much pride in building my travel itinerary. Travel itineraries are very personal. Yes, to certain degree, it would be nice to cross off the must-see sights while you’re in a particular place, but I think, it shouldn’t be taken against you if you prefer to see other places outside of the usual travel route. When you set your own itinerary, you should be conscious on what makes you happy, however “shallow” it may be. Some people like shopping, therefore the schedule should involve at lot of malls and high street shopping. Some people like theme parks, so they should spend their days in Disneyland or Universal Studios, much like people who like culture and the arts should not feel guilty in spending their vacation days in museums. What may be fun for me, may be such a waste of time for you. And it’s not fun for me to see you hack the itinerary I preciously built to your liking because it’s not your thing.

It hurts. So much.

For example, we, on our first day in Japan, choose to spend it in an cup noodle museum. No shame in that. At all. Cup noodles are awesome.

Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen MuseumMomofuku Ando Instant Ramen MuseumMomofuku Ando Instant Ramen MuseumMomofuku Ando Instant Ramen MuseumMomofuku Ando Instant Ramen MuseumMomofuku Ando Instant Ramen MuseumMomofuku Ando Instant Ramen MuseumMomofuku Ando Instant Ramen MuseumMomofuku Ando Instant Ramen MuseumMomofuku Ando Instant Ramen MuseumMomofuku Ando Instant Ramen MuseumMomofuku Ando Instant Ramen MuseumMomofuku Ando Instant Ramen MuseumMomofuku Ando Instant Ramen MuseumMomofuku Ando Instant Ramen MuseumMomofuku Ando Instant Ramen MuseumMomofuku Ando Instant Ramen MuseumMomofuku Ando Instant Ramen MuseumMomofuku Ando Instant Ramen MuseumMomofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum

We dedicated an entire day to line up with little Japanese kids out on a field trip, and buy some cups for 300 yen each that we can decorate and fill it up with our chosen ingredients. Instant noodles is our thing. We chose to spend one precious vacation day customizing a cup noodle, only to not eat it. I mean, as I am writing this, I’m staring at the two 120 peso cup noodles, still sealed, on top of our fridge. Because where else can you make your own instant cup noodles?

Oh Japan.


Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum
8-25 Masumi-cho, Ikeda-shi
Osaka 563-0041, Japan

How to go there: take the train to Ikeda Station on the Hankyu Takarazuka Line (approximately a 20 min. ride from Hankyu Umeda Station via express train). The museum is approximately a 5 min. walk from the Masumi-cho Homen Exit.

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