Asia Haul (Japan and South Korea)

Japan Takeshita

I debated whether to make this most because I got so much stuff from Asia, including little tiny stuff, that it would be impossible for me to remember everything I bought but I thought I’d give it a go and list as much stuff as I can remember. There’s no way I’ll be able to do it in order so this post is going to be a bit of a mess!

1. Gacha Machine Prizes

Gacha Machine Prizes

Although we have gacha machines in the UK I don’t use them because they’re usually full of childish tat. The ones in Japan were a bit cuter and there’s so many to choose from that you just sort of go along with it. I went on quite a few both in Japan and South Korea but mostly in Japan. In South Korea there was a ‘mystery gacha machine’ which I did with great excitement and got a tacky Moana necklace so I don’t recommend the mystery ones but all the others were cute! I also got a squishy bunny, an orange cat pin, a squirrel/raccoon figure, a little white dog, two BTS keyrings and probably a ton of other stuff.

2. Sleeping Snorlax figure

Snorlax

I used to be a massive Pokémon fan as a kid but unfortunately sort of grew out of it so although I watched the show and movies religiously as a tiny kid I don’t remember an awful lot about them. But you have to take a trip to the Pokémon centre whilst in Tokyo don’t you really? I came across this little Snorlax figure and immediately related to him on a personal level so I just had to buy him!

3. Squirtle Plushie

Squirtle Plushie

Everyone raves about the sheer amount of Pokémon you can get at the centre but being the basic bitch that I am Squirtle is my favourite Pokémon. You could get different types of plushies like sleeping ones or furry ones but in the end I went for the basic type because I was worried about money. He’s really cute and I’m glad I got him!

4. Pikachu Plushie

Pikachu Plushie

I didn’t actually get Pikachu at the Pokémon centre; I won him in an arcade at Lotte World in South Korea. Becca and Jess were on the dance machine and my legs were getting sore at this point so to distract myself I had a couple of goes on the Pikachu crane machine and was successful! I probably should’ve toned it down with the crane machines but I did not.

5. Boo and Unicorn Plushie

Boo and Unicorn

I’ve put these two together because I won them on the same night along with a massive tube of Pringles. The tube of Pringles never made it home because I gave them to Becca who, as a vegetarian, hadn’t had tons to eat over the past couple of weeks so they disappeared quite quickly. I mentioned in a previous post that Becca won a Giant Winnie the Pooh bear and so my competitive streak was on then and by the end of the night I’d managed to win the Boo and Unicorn plushie. I’m proud of the Boo, I didn’t really want the Unicorn but I have it now. Luckily I managed to squash them both into my suitcase, Becca had to carry her Pooh bear through the airport with her to South Korea and then back to England again.

6. Winnie the Pooh plushie

Pooh Plushie

My favourite day in Tokyo was undoubtedly the day we went to Disneyland Tokyo and the ride I was desperate to go on was ‘Pooh’s Honey Hunt’ – I did get to go on it and thoroughly enjoyed it. It reminded me how much I love Winnie the Pooh so I couldn’t resist buying this fluffy Winnie the Pooh plushie. It’s so cute, I’m so glad I spent the extra for the fluffy one! I would’ve bought more at Disneyland but unfortunately by the time we got to the stores they were overflowing with people and we were all tired and hot so we couldn’t browse for as long as we would’ve liked to.

7. Mt Fuji Plushie

Mt Fuji Plushie

This post is making me realise just how many plushies I bought. Me and my friends were buying souvenirs at Mt Fuji’s fifth station and I must’ve panicked because I picked up a random box of biscuits that I didn’t particularly want and this Mt Fuji plushie. I gave the box of biscuits to my Dad for Christmas but I do quite like the plushie even though it’s a bit random and doesn’t actually say anything about Mt Fuji on it.

8. Lucky Mt Fuji Bell

Mt Fuji Bell

As part of our Mt Fuji day trip we were given a little bell for free that was apparently taken to the top of Mt Fuji and blessed so they should bring you luck. They probably never saw the summit of Mt Fuji but they did at least see the fifth station which is good enough for me. It’s a really cute souvenir either way!

9. Maidreamin Polaroid Photo

Maidreamin

(I dunno why the photo flipped but whatever)

I wrote a long post about the themed cafes we visited in Japan but Maidreamin had to be one of the most awkward café experiences we had but honestly I wouldn’t have changed it for the world. Me and Jess bought the set menu which got you a dessert, a photo with the maid and a ‘gift’. For your photo you could either take it on your camera or have a Polaroid taken. Jess opted for a camera version whilst I got a Polaroid which is absolutely adorable because the maid writes on it for you. Becca was invited to also be in the photo but was having such a terrible time that she opted out.

10. Maidreamin Key ring

Maidreamin Keyring

This was the ‘gift’ I mentioned previously, I believe there was a choice between a key ring, animal ears or a file holder. Animal ears were unlikely to get worn by me and didn’t really have anything about Maidreamin on them. I was also unlikely to use a file holder so I went for the key ring. It’s cute and I’ve got it on my key chain at the moment so it can remind me of my trip to Japan!

11. Universal Studios Key Ring

Universal Studios Key Ring

Another key ring that reminds me of my trip is my ‘Universal Studios Osaka’ one. It’s got a little Cookie Monster on it and it’s just really cute. At Disneyland Tokyo I’d tried to find merch that specified I’d got it from Disneyland TOKYO or JAPAN but hadn’t had much success so I was glad this one specified where I was. It’s so cute!

12. Jurassic Park Ride Professional Photo

Jurassic Park Ride

In my Universal Studios post I wrote about how I was tricked onto the Jurassic Park ride by the deceitful Jess. As I’d been stupid enough to go on the ride I thought I might as well get some photo evidence and to be fair the photo is hilarious, and reminds me of the amazing time we had that day.

13. Nara Deer Figure

Nara Deer Figure

I mentioned our day at Nara Deer Park in my ‘Asia Travel Fails’ blog post – although it was an amazing morning and I’d recommend it to anyone it was a bit of a frightening experience considering I got bitten the moment I entered the park and Becca got butted more times than I can count. But I still couldn’t resist buying a cute little deer figurine from the gift shops nearby. It reminds me of the hilarious morning we had!

14. Seoul Tower Snow Globe

Seoul Tower Snowglobe

When I started really getting into travelling I started collecting snow globes from all the different places I went. Unfortunately there weren’t really any tacky gift shops I could find in Japan and I didn’t buy one from there so I’ve ended up ordering one online when I came back – it’s massive compared to the others in my collection but I’ll just say it’s ‘cos I went to three parts of Japan so it needed to be bigger. The only one I’m missing is one from Amsterdam but I have no doubt I’ll go back one day.

Anyway, when we were up Seoul Tower we decided to buy some souvenirs and I spotted this snow globe. We were reaching the end of the trip so I decided I’d best buy it and I’m glad I did as I don’t think I found another snow globe whilst exploring Seoul. It’s cute and reminds me of an amazing trip.

15. Kyoto Tower Professional Photo

Kyoto Tower Photo

I love professional photos and the Kyoto tower one was cute so I decided to buy it. When we reached Kyoto we waited so long to be picked up to be taken to our apartment that we didn’t have much time to do anything in the evening so we only went up Kyoto Tower but it was a good start to our short stay in Kyoto. The views were amazing and they had telescopes that were free to look through that were amazing, you had close-ups of people walking around on the ground.

16. Seoul Tower Professional Photo

Seoul Tower Photo

(This one flipped too for some bloody reason)

Seoul Tower was extremely popular the night we went up, our ticket slot said we could join the queue 50 minutes after our arrival and when we did join the queue it took an awful long time to get up. First we queued for the photo, then we had to queue to get into the elevator, and then when we decided we were done it was another long queue to get back down to ground level. The photo was cool and I love professional photos so decided to keep it ‘cos why not?

17. Totoro plushie

Totoro Plushie

When planning our trip to Japan the Studio Ghibli Museum was always top of my list, as I knew it was Jess’. Becca hadn’t seen any Studio Ghibli movies (although did sit down and watch Spirited Away before we left which she wasn’t a fan of) but was happy to come along too. Buying the tickets was a pain because it was confusing and they went on sale at 2AM in the UK so we all had to set alarms to get up and get them. But it was worth it and I couldn’t leave without a souvenir. Totoro has always been my favourite so I couldn’t resist this cute plushie!

18. Japanese Fan

Fan

Whilst in Akihabara we’d visited most of the main shops and arcades but were still killing time until our Lock-up booking so we ended up going down the backstreets and came across a store that sold a variety of random items. We came across a display of Japanese fans and the three of us couldn’t resist so we each bought a different one. I haven’t found anywhere to display it properly yet but it’s cute and I love it!

19. Oh My Girl Banhana – Banana Allergy Monkey Album

Banana Allergy Monkey Album

It’s no secret that me and my friends are massive K-Pop fans so whilst in Seoul we wanted to stock up on K-Pop merch. In the underground station nearest our hotel that we used regularly there was a small underground shopping area which had a few K-Pop shops including one which was full from ceiling to floor of K-Pop albums. I debated a lot but bought two albums (I’ll mention the other in a second) but one was Oh My Girl’s subunit album, ‘Banana Allergy Monkey’. I loved the look of the album as it’s designed to look like a retro video game and it’s just super cute. I couldn’t resist!

20. G-Friend – Time For The Moon Night Album

Time For The Moon Night

I’m a massive G-Friend fan and although ‘Time for the Moon Night’ isn’t my favourite song the album just looked so pretty that I couldn’t resist. I got SinB and Eunha’s photo cards – I was hoping for either Umji or Yuju but I love SinB and Eunha as well so it’s okay. It’s such a cute album and I’m glad I got it.

21. TWICE bag tag

TWICE bag tag

I wasn’t sure what K-Pop merch to buy, in the UK we normally just get a t-shirt or a mug or something but in Asia there was all sorts of different merch. By the end of the trip me and Jess had both started putting little things on our bags to hang down ‘cos it looked cute so we both bought a K-Pop themed bag tag. Mine was TWICE and she chose a Black Pink one. I wish I’d bought more ‘cos I can’t find them on the internet and I think they look so cute. If I ever go back to Seoul I know what I’m buying.

22. MOMOLAND file holder

On my birthday in Tokyo we went to a K-Pop area and I knew I had to buy something. I came across what I thought was a small MOMOLAND poster. When Jess saw I was interested she bought it for me as a birthday present. It was only when I arrived back in the UK and took it out the cellophane I realised it was a file holder. I don’t really use them at home but I did have a plain file holder at work that I used regularly so I decided to replace it and use the MOMOLAND one at work. This quickly turned embarrassing when a colleague was covering my work and I told her the referrals she needed were in ‘the MOMOLAND file holder in my drawers’. Never mind, it’s still a cute file holder. I couldn’t get a photo as it’s currently still at work but trust me, it is cute!

23. Lucky Cat Figure

Lucky Cat Figure

At Osaka airport we all decided to snap up some last minute souvenirs. I came across this cat and figured ‘sure why not’. It wasn’t until I got home that it also had a little fortune inside. I can’t remember where I put it but I’m pretty sure it was positive. It’s a cute figurine, I’m thinking of taking it to work to display on my desk but we’ll see.

24. Squirtle Head Band

Squirtle Head Band

At Lotte World me and Jess both decided that we needed something to wear – I’m not sure why, it was quite late in the day at this point but she chose an Eevee one and I chose a Squirtle one. They looked cute and I kept saying we needed a picture together but unfortunately time ran away from us and we didn’t get one but the headband was still cute. I don’t really have anywhere to wear it in the UK but I am considering wearing it in Hong Kong when I visit Ocean Park. We’ll have to see!

25. Pokémon Ball

Pokemon Ball

I’m not sure how to describe this but at Lotte World there were boxes where you could get a surprise figurine inside if that makes sense? So I picked a Pokémon themed one where a figure would come inside a ball but it was up in the air which one it would be. I got this one and although it’s cute it’s pretty much impossible to get Pikachu to stay stood up. I did manage to get him up at one point but when I dusted the shelf he fell over and I never got him back up. Never mind, the ball still looks cute!

26. Girls’ Generation Photo

Girls Generation Photo

When visiting SM Town I was ready to stock up on tons of merch from my favourite artists but unfortunately I wasn’t a fan of much of the merchandise. They had K-Pop albums that I would’ve happily bought but none of them had the price on and I wasn’t willing to take one up to the till only for it to be about £100 – the one I wanted was Girls’ Generation’s debut album which I’m pretty sure I hadn’t been able to find online for a reasonable price so I let it go. However on the top floor there was a photo booth where you could pick your favourite K-Pop artists and get a picture with them. As a massive Girls’ Generation fan I chose them but you could only have two members in the picture and they were already in pairs. As Sunny’s my bias I chose her, and Tiffany was also in the picture which is cool ‘cos I love Tiffany too.

On the other floors they had more areas where you could take a photo with the whole group which was fun as they’d designed it so two members saunter onto the screen and act like they’re preparing to take a photo with you and then the other members just appear on the screen as photos. You could also purchase a video version of it and I begged Becca to get her Super Junior photo because it was ‘Mamacita’ themed and she’d made me laugh so much with the two fake guns but she didn’t. None of us got our photos from the other rooms ‘cos we already had ours from the top floor but it was still a lot of fun doing the different rooms – upon reflection Jess may have got another one but I can’t remember. Either way the photo booths were a lot of fun and definitely the best part of SM Town!

27. Chocolate Frog

Chocolate Frog

When we visited Universal Studios our first stop was Harry Potter World – the three of us are massive Harry Potter fans and we’d heard that area just gets busier and busier as the day goes on so we decided to go there first. When we visited Honey Dukes one of us had the idea that we should each get a chocolate frog and see whose card we get – we got one to bring back to the UK for Hirst as well. Hirst got Rowena Ravenclaw which was awesome as that’s which house she’s in, Jess got ‘Bertie Bott’ and Becca got ‘Godric Gryffindor’. When I opened mine I’d got ‘Albus Dumbledore’ which is pretty sick, that’s the one Harry gets when he has his first chocolate frog. The chocolate frog itself was massive and well worth the money, I love chocolate but even I didn’t finish it in one sitting.

That’s pretty much all I can remember at the moment although I’m sure there was a lot of little extra stuff that I bought and this doesn’t even include the presents I bought for other people. Basically, Asia was an amazing trip and I got some sick souvenirs!

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Five Favourite Places I’ve Visited (So Far!)

Umbrellas

It’s no secret that travelling is my favourite thing to do. At any given time I normally have a trip coming up to forward to. It’s become a bit of a running joke at work that the moment I’m back from a trip everyone starts asking “Go on then, when’s the next one?” It’s a reputation that I quite enjoy having.

I decided to write a list of the five top places I’ve visited so far. I have no doubt within the next few years this will change as I tick off more places on my travel bucket list but as of right now, in April 2019, these are my five favourite places I’ve visited.

5. Crete, Greece

Crete 2

It’s rare for me and my three best friends to hit lucky with the weather when we travel. On our first trip abroad to Paris I don’t think it stopped raining all week. We booked Greece for the end of April 2018 and everyone warned us it wouldn’t be as warm as we thought and we should just pack our normal clothes. Turns out they were wrong, it was boiling in Crete for the entirety of our visit which definitely helped the overall experience of the holiday.

I’ve written a bit about Crete in other posts but for this holiday we realised there was no public transport so we hired a car and once Jess got the hang of driving on the other side of the car and road we were cruising through Crete without a care in the world. Everything was perfect – the weather, the scenery, and the absolute bangers we were listening to.

Crete 3

The country itself was just beautiful and the people were so lovely. Every time we went out for dinner we were given something for free at the end of it which although was a bit hit and miss was still an added bonus. My favourite was when we had dinner at the place overlooking the lake because we got a plate of fruit afterwards which was lush.

I wish we’d had a bit longer to spend there exploring the island but we had to face reality and come home after three nights but overall, I wouldn’t have changed anything about our trip to Crete. It was pretty much perfect, even the little squabbles with my friends and the plain bizarre moments – even when the car started rolling backwards down that steep hill! I had an amazing trip and would love to return to either Crete or any part of Greece one day.

4. Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Amsterdam 12

The first time me and my friends ever caught a flight together was for Amsterdam. It’s crazy now ‘cos we’ve caught so many flights together that I don’t even think twice now, I’m like ‘yep we’re back at the airport again’ but at the time it was crazy! I mentioned Paris was our first trip but due to money we’d had to catch a coach. Now we’d all sort of settled into full-time work we could finally afford to fly and it was so much better than a 12 hour bus journey.

The trip itself wasn’t perfect although it did have a lot of fun moments, what I loved was just the city. It had such a calm vibe, you always seemed to be near water and it definitely helped that for once the sun was shining during our trip. Amsterdam was beautiful and I’ve love to explore more parts of the Netherlands.

Amsterdam 13

There were some things we didn’t get to see like ‘Anne Frank’s House’ and other stuff which make me want to return. Even revisiting parts we already saw would be interesting. I do need to go back to Amsterdam one day because I’ve started collecting snow globes for every country I visit and Amsterdam is currently the only one I’m missing. Obviously that’s not the only reason I’d go back, I just loved the place so much!

3. Seoul, South Korea

SM Town

When I was about seventeen or eighteen I started listening to more K-Pop which admittedly is what got me interested in South Korea. I remember when I was nineteen I received a message off Becca saying ‘Hollie if you ever go to South Korea I want to go too’. At the time I thought it was impossible and assumed we never would. Last year we went.

We were going to Japan and spending the majority of our time there but decided to slot in a few nights in South Korea before we came home. I’m so glad we did because it was such an amazing experience and we packed in a lot for the few days we were there.

I’ve said this for everywhere so far but I’d love to go back and explore more of South Korea, especially Busan but I don’t think I’d have the confidence to go on my own. As I mentioned in my ‘Asia Travel Fails’ post, Google Maps doesn’t work properly in South Korea – instead of giving you precise directions it will show the distance in a straight line ignoring things like roads and buildings. This meant South Korea was difficult to navigate but Jess managed it and we got to see a lot of amazing things.

I’d love to go back and do a ton more stuff so we’ll see if that ever happens!

2. New York, USA

Grand Central

For my 21st birthday I had originally asked my Mom to fund my flights to Japan but then realised I could probably do that myself with my tax return money so I decided to ask for something else instead. My Mom had previously visited New York with her uni friend Sue and had loved it. When I asked her she initially said it would be wasted on me since I’m scared of lifts so suggested we went somewhere else instead. I was so desperate to go that I finally worked up the nerve to get in the lift at my work and overcame my fear – in the long run it has really helped and made life 1000 times more convenient.

Anyway, about ten days after my birthday the two of us jetted off to New York together. It was my first time in America and also my first time going on holiday outside of Europe. I was excited but to be honest when I first arrived I felt very overwhelmed and wasn’t sure if I liked it. We left our hotel to find somewhere for dinner at about 5:30PM so of course the streets were packed with people as it was the rush hour and I was exhausted from the flight so I wasn’t sure. However the next day, after an early night, was a lot better.

New York 4

The only downside I can think of is that I ended up getting really bad blisters so by the last day of the trip I was limping everywhere but other than that it was amazing. We did all the typical tourist things like going up the Empire State Building, the Rockefeller Centre, our hotel was literally right round the corner from Times Square. When my Mom had been she hadn’t found time to see a Broadway show but as a massive theatre fan I insisted we had to. I chose Anastasia as that’s not performing in the UK at the moment and I couldn’t have asked for a better first Broadway show experience. We had our own box and the show itself was amazing.

It’s on my bucket list to visit America with my friends one day and it’d be cool for us to go to New York but it was very expensive! I think I only had the amazing experience I had because my Mom was with me. Our hotel was literally perfect, there was a view of the empire state building from our window. One of my favourite places I’ve visited!

1. Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo

I could’ve also put Osaka and Kyoto on this list as I loved them as well but decided to stick with Tokyo so that the list wasn’t just full of my one trip to Asia! To be honest I don’t think I’ll ever love somewhere as much as I loved Tokyo, it was the perfect city for me as it had a bit of everything – the traditional side with museums, shrines and temples whilst also having the fun side with Disneyland, arcades and whacky themed cafes.

I can’t remember when I first realised I wanted to visit Japan but it had been several years. I remember talking about it with Jess in college, watching Dan and Phil’s vlog with such jealousy and thinking about how I’d most likely never be able to afford to go. Thankfully due to tax returns and two other friends who wanted to go/could afford to, the flights were booked and before we knew it we were off!

If I could return to any trip I’ve ever been on it would definitely be Japan, any moment would be fine with me but my favourite to return to would definitely be watching the electric parade at Disneyland at the end of a fun day. I think that’s probably the happiest I’ve ever been in my entire life.

Tokyo 2

I’ve made up my mind that I want to return to Japan in 2022 but we’ll have to see as there are lots of places in the world I want to tick off but I did really love Japan. I’d like to return to Tokyo, see a new part of Japan and then maybe catch a plane to somewhere nearby? I’m not sure, we’ll have to see!

So there we go, that’s my list of my five favourite places I’ve visited so far. Feel free to leave a comment with your favourites!

Travel Fails: Asia Edition

Japan Takeshita.jpg

At the start of the year I wrote a post about mine and my friends travel fails which you can read here. Recently we went on a trip to Asia where we travelled round three cities in Japan then visited Seoul in South Korea before heading home. Of course none of our trips are without fails so I decided to write a quick post of the things that went wrong in Asia!

Tokyo

Mt Fuji 3.jpg

The worst fail in Tokyo was probably Becca getting sick on my birthday. Anytime you go out for something to eat in Tokyo you’re given a glass of tap water. We’re usually quite sensible and avoid drinking tap water in foreign countries and stock up on plenty of bottled water but by the time we’d sat down to eat after long days of sight-seeing me and Becca were normally quite thirsty so we both drank the tap water. However, I go to the loo way more often and was flushing it out with plenty of bottled water. Becca also eats less than me so the tap water stayed in her system.

I was initially disappointed on my birthday because we’d been planning to visit Disneyland but the weather was rainy and there was a typhoon warning so we did the sensible thing and pushed it to a day where the weather would be better (which definitely was a good idea as the weather was lush when we went). It’s lucky we did as we headed out, got an amazing breakfast at a K-Pop themed café, looked around a district full of K-Pop merch and then headed to Takeshita Street to do some shopping when Becca realised she felt absolutely awful.

In the end she decided to go back to the hotel so we went with her to make sure she got back okay. We had a few minutes rest in the room and then headed back out leaving poor Becca behind. Me and Jess didn’t do tons ‘cos we felt bad but we did head to the Hedgehog café which was a lot of fun. Then as we headed to find somewhere for dinner I fell over in the middle of a busy street because the floor was slippery from the rain. So there’s another fail.

Luckily Becca felt well enough the next day to head back out and didn’t touch another drop of tap water for the rest of the trip but it still sucked that she couldn’t come to the hedgehog café as I know she’d been looking forward to it. Me and Jess brought her back a plushie hedgehog to try and cheer her up but it still wasn’t the same. We definitely need to go back to Tokyo one day.

Hedgehog Cafe

Another fail we had from the get go was assuming that Japan would be a similar temperature to the UK in October. It was boiling hot and apparently this is the norm, we told our Aokigahara Forest tour guide that it was cold in England in October and she seemed surprised. Always read up about the climate before you go I guess? Most of my outfits consist of warm knitted dresses so I had to suffer in them every day. I don’t think I had a single summer outfit with me and the struggle was real.

Disneyland Tokyo.jpg

Walking around Japan really wore us out so after our day trip to Mt Fuji and the Aokigahara Forest we were all looking forward to an early night and a nice, long, uninterrupted sleep. Japan clearly had other ideas because I was woken up at midnight by the sound of my phone going absolutely berserk, making noises I didn’t even know it could make. In my half-asleep daze I didn’t really think twice about it, I was just so desperate to switch the noise off but was fully awake when I saw a message from the government advising us to ‘Keep calm and seek shelter nearby’.

Other than that there was no context to the message so I woke the others up and told them what it said. Neither were sure and Becca got up to help me look it up. I managed to freak myself out by going on a website that advised me ‘it could be that North Korea have sent a missile J’ but luckily Becca went on Twitter and saw it was actually an earthquake alert.

The girls make fun of me now but we don’t get big earthquakes in the UK so I was worried about what it would be like and whether we needed to do anything so I kept asking them questions but the girls were tired so I shut up and tried to push it out of my mind. In the end Tokyo didn’t even feel the earthquake and the message was sent out by mistake – it was only about a four on the scale and apparently they only send out messages for the bad ones and it was an error. Irritating though that the message had broken our one good long night’s sleep.

Tokyo Emergency Alert.jpg

We didn’t do much on our last day in Tokyo, we just headed straight to the train station to travel to Kyoto. The train ticket cost about £90 each so if we missed our train we were a bit screwed. But we had just over an hour until we had to go so we went downstairs into their food court section to find something to eat. Me and Jess eventually came across a beef place so Becca sat outside whilst we ate.

The downstairs area was so big that when we came out we immediately got lost and couldn’t find our way back to the train station. We knew it was up but everywhere with stairs seemed to be leading outside and we had no idea where to go. In the end I plucked up the courage to ask some men the directions to the station and they did look at me like I was a bit of a moron but they pointed me in the vague direction. You have no idea how stressed I was, we really didn’t have the time to be lost and as the pessimist I am I was convinced we were going to miss our train.

Luckily we found our platform in the nick of time and our train was still there so we jumped on and went walking through the carriages to find some spare seats next to each other. We managed to find three one in front of the other, put our massive suitcases away and finally relaxed. We’d all been a bit stressed and cranky looking for the correct platform so I think missing the train may have genuinely been the start of a fallout but luckily that didn’t happen.

Kyoto

Tea Ceremony.jpg

We arrived in Kyoto at about 2PM and requested a 3PM pick-up from the train station – we were staying in an apartment where they didn’t give out the address and someone had to pick us up to take us there, give us the key etc. Someone already had the 3PM pick-up so we figured no big deal, we’ll just get the 4PM one.

We headed over the road with the idea of getting some food in the café. However, when he came over to take our order Jess said “Three hot chocolates please” and the guy assumed that was the end of our order and none of us felt confident enough to call him back either. We had our hot chocolates then headed back over to be at the station for 4PM.

4PM came and passed with no sign of our car. We were all still hungry and there was a McDonalds across the road but none of us wanted to take the risk because the driver could literally turn up at any minute. We waited until about 4:40 and I messaged the guy to ask if he was still coming and eventually got a reply to say it would now be a 5PM pick-up. We carried on waiting and it got to a point where we were checking every car registration and none of us actually expected him to come, we were really shocked when he eventually came. None of us complained because we’re not like that but we were all starving.

He drove us to the apartment and he really stressed me out because he answered his phone while driving – I don’t know Japan’s view on that but in the UK that’s a massive no, I yell at my Mom for even glancing at her phone. We went inside and it did look really nice and he began talking us through the features of the apartment which was all going fine… Until he showed us how the air conditioning worked.

He hit the on button and the flaps to the air con opened and out fell the biggest bug I’ve ever seen in my entire life. Me and Becca both looked at each other but neither the guy nor Jess had noticed this bug. He carried on talking us through everything else but I was now on edge looking for this bug. By the time he’d gone and we were able to mention it, the bug had gone missing.

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We went out to Kyoto Tower and by the time we got back the bug was now back on the wall. This turned into a massive hoo-ha because we obviously couldn’t leave this massive bug just wondering around the apartment so Jess bravely got a glass and went to capture it. She got really mad at me and Becca ‘cos we were both a bit wimpy at this point but in my defence I did help. Luckily Jess caught the bug in a glass and we got rid of it outside – it tried to fly in her face but we ran back inside and locked it out.

Luckily Kyoto was relatively stress-free compared to the other places we visited, except for when we visit Kyoto Imperial Palace and it absolutely threw it down with rain and Jess said we should run to the next bit with shelter because the rain had ‘calmed down’ a bit. We looked like drowned rats by the time the rain let up.

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And finally, on Jess’ birthday we decided to visit the Bamboo Forest and Monkey Park both of which were fabulous but by the time we were done me and Jess were absolutely starving so we looked for somewhere to eat nearby. The only places near us in Kyoto were very traditional looking places but after scanning the menu of a noodle place we headed inside where we waited for a table to become available. When it eventually did I settled on some duck noodles as I like duck and I like noodles so I figured it couldn’t be too bad. Until it was brought over and I was like “Jess, why does it smell so strongly of fish?” and she replied “Oh… I think it’s been cooked in a fish broth.”

I tried to suck up the noodles as quickly as possible but all I could was fish as I did so and I’m really, really, not fond of fish. I left a good majority of it.

Osaka

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On our first night in Osaka we decided to visit an arcade that we’d read about online. At this point we didn’t have long left in Japan and we all had quite a bit of money… Which is probably why me and Jess went a bit mad.

I do love arcades but British ones are a bit depressing and feel like a waste of money because I can see I’m throwing away actual hard earned money. But I had tons of Japanese yen which didn’t feel real so I converted a lot of it coins and had a go on most of the machines. There was a Studio Ghibli one and I quite quickly won a little Totoro figure which I was over the moon about. There was a little Jiji figure (from Kiki’s Delivery Service) in the machine that Jess decided she wanted so we both spent tons of money trying to win it for her. In the meantime I won a ton of other Ghibli figures but eventually Jess got her Jiji figurine.

We went around going on different machines – we went up to the different floors but they were more competitive gambling and weren’t as fun as the bottom floor which was full of prize games like crane machines etc. I wasn’t taking it too seriously until Becca won a Winnie the Pooh bear out of a crane machine. It was quite big and none of us were sure how she was gonna bring it home.

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My competitive streak was on then and I went around the different crane machines until I eventually won a Boo plushie from Mario. That was also quite big and although my suitcase was massive it had been pretty much full to the brim before we’d left the UK so I wasn’t sure how to bring it home. Did that stop me? No.

There was a machine where you had to stop the spinner at the exact time and you’d win a big tube of pringles. We were all having a go on that and I made a joke about how as Becca’s a vegetarian she hadn’t been able to eat much in Japan so if I won the pringles for her it might be able to keep her going until we get home. Tons of money later, I finally managed to win the massive pringles tub.

I should’ve quit while I was ahead but no – Jess hadn’t won anything on a crane machine and felt a bit left out so she kept going. She nearly won a chipmunk but she ran out of coins and when she went to buy more a little girl had a go and won the chipmunk she’d spent so long lining up which she was annoyed about. I had a go on a unicorn machine and won a little unicorn plushie.

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We were eventually persuaded to leave the arcade but we soon found another, smaller one with more crane machines so Jess decided to try her luck again. She nearly won a big dog plushie but unfortunately it got stuck and she couldn’t get it. I can’t remember if she did win anything from a crane machine but at the end of the night I realised I’d probably spent about £60 in the arcades. Becca had spent significantly less and moaned that we should’ve spent it on something worthwhile but listen, me and Jess had a good time and I won a few things to show for it. I did manage to squash that Boo into my case, Becca had to carry the Winnie the Pooh plushie onto the plane which was a bit of a pain but at least she got it home.

Osaka was another relatively stress-free location but disaster did strike again at Nara Deer Park. Jess had heard of it and suggested we took a visit and we all agreed it would be fun. We could feed some polite bowing deer in a peaceful park, what’s not to love?

It didn’t take too long to get to Nara and the deer park is really easy to find. The deer looked really sweet so we all bought them some food. I noticed the food had drawn a couple of deer’s attention but didn’t think much of it and stepped into the park with the intention of politely feeding the deer. What a mistake. The moment I stepped inside I was swarmed by about ten deer and one of them bit me in the side immediately so I shrieked and felt really overwhelmed by the amount of pestering deer so I chucked the food on the floor and ran, much to Jess’ amusement.

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The other two managed to feed the deer their food but it had to be done quickly as the deer were not patient in the slightest. I left the park and it was then that I saw the sign advising to be careful as the deer could bite, butt and kick you. None of us got kicked luckily but the horned deer did some to have it in for Becca and kept butting her ass. One of them did try to go for her and she had to hold onto its horns to get it to stop.

Truthfully it was still a lot of fun and I would recommend that people visit, but it definitely wasn’t as peaceful as we’d all been imagining.

The only other fail was when we visited Universal Studios and as I was waiting for Becca and Jess to get off one of the rides I fell asleep. The trip was exhausting, can you blame me?

Seoul

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We got up super early to travel from Osaka to Seoul and originally we had planned to make the most of the day. But the trip had taken a toll on us so in the end after checking into the hotel, we walked to the local supermarket, stocked up on some food and just had a lazy day with an early night. We also made the most of the free laundry facilities and washed enough clothes to see us through until the end of the trip.

Unfortunately although there was a washing machine there wasn’t a dryer and we weren’t really sure what to do. We hung some clothes up in our room and then I mentioned the clothing rail I’d seen on the balcony and said we’d have to put the rest there.

Me and Jess headed out onto the balcony with the basket of wet washing when the light in the opposite building switched off. We both noticed and as a joke Jess said “Ooh the demons are coming to get us.” Which was funny, until we heard footsteps approaching from that building. All I said was “Actually, I’m a bit creeped out now” and suddenly the two of us were speeding back to our room – except, we were both so eager not to be at the back that we got stuck in the doorway. I fell onto my knees and Jess fell on top of me.

I was peeing myself with laughter, as was Jess, but both of us were still scared so we were trying to go forwards but with Jess still on top of me neither of us were going anywhere. We eventually got through and we raced down the corridor into our room, peeing with laughter while Becca asked what had happened. All I hope is that whoever was walking in the other building didn’t come onto the balcony and see me and Jess trapped in the doorway.

We found places for the rest of the clothes to dry in our room as we now didn’t trust the balcony and Jess said we needed to take the basket back downstairs but she wasn’t gonna go on her own. She opened the door and we heard footsteps again so I dived onto my bed only to discover it was just a tourist heading down the stairs. We’re such idiots.

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Seoul was difficult to navigate because firstly none of us had any data – Jess had paid for it in Japan but it was either more expensive or not available in South Korea so we had to rely on free Wi-Fi to get directions to places. The directions were difficult regardless because Google Maps doesn’t work in South Korea, instead of planning the route for you it just shows you the way in a straight line.

This was probably why we ended up on a bus we weren’t supposed to get on to get to the Museum of Illusions. We waited for our number bus and when it came on we all piled on – the driver asked Becca if she was going to the airport, Becca replied no and just went and sat down. So me and Jess tapped in and followed her.

The bus was a lot fancier than the other ones we’d been on and we quickly realised that although the bus was stopping to let people on, nobody was getting off. Everyone else had luggage and was clearly on their way to the airport so we got in a panic about whether we were supposed to be on the bus or whether we’d end up at the airport. We stayed on there for a while but our stop was approaching and we weren’t really sure what to do.

At this point the driver stopped the bus, physically came down to us and asked where we were going if it wasn’t the airport. Jess tried to communicate the name of the stop and kept telling him it was the next one coming up to which he eventually said “Fine, get off.”

He hadn’t seemed happy so we weren’t sure if he meant immediately or at our stop so we stood up and then the bus pulled off so at least he was taking us to our stop. We were worried that he’d looked annoyed so we walked down and stood by the doors, I’m not sure if that was allowed or not but we were keen to get off at this point. He eventually pulled up to our stop and we piled off as quickly as possible because he really hadn’t been a happy bunny. Listen, we’re idiot tourists, we didn’t know the bus was only for the airport! We were just following Google Maps!

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Speaking of public transport, we decided to pay a visit to Seoul Tower and caught a bus to take us there. Google Maps advised us of the stop to get off and when we got off we couldn’t see the tower anywhere so we headed in the vague direction of it.

It turns out Seoul Tower is at the top of the biggest hill I’ve ever seen in my entire life. We walked up some stairs and I kept thinking we must surely be near the top. The steps were never ending but when they did eventually end we were now on a hill and still had ages to go to reach Seoul Tower. It was the most painful climb of my entire life but we eventually made it, drenched in sweat.

I don’t know why Google Maps advised us to get off because there had been a bus stop at the top of the hill which we used to catch the bus back to the hotel. As we got closer to our hotel I noticed a sign… Advising us of the cable cars nearby… That would take us to Seoul Tower. We’d walked up that hill for absolutely nothing.

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So although there were a few fails it was still an amazing trip and I want to visit Japan again at some point because it was definitely my favourite place I’ve ever been.

Universal Studios Osaka

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I can’t remember how we decided which parts of Japan we’d visit other than Tokyo but I think Osaka was always on the list because we wanted to visit Universal Studios. Becca was celebrating her birthday while we were in Osaka so we decided to go to Universal Studios for the day.

This was another one where we couldn’t buy the tickets in advance, it just wasn’t an option if you lived in the UK but luckily ticket sales were marked more clearly than they had been at Disneyland and queuing didn’t take too long. We each got a different movie on our ticket, Jess got Jurassic Park, I got Transformers and hilariously Becca got Minions. She tried to swap but nobody else wanted the Minions ticket.

Jess had read online that it’s best to head straight to Harry Potter world first to avoid crowds so we did that and this was another place I’d seen in vlogs but it didn’t prepare me for entering and hearing the Harry Potter music. The whole place looks absolutely magical as if you’re actually in Hogsmeade. We joined a queue for something heading towards the castle, I thought it was like a walk through thing but it turned out to be a ride so I decided not to go on. Becca and Jess did and they said it was amazing, it was like you were following Harry and Ron on broomsticks.

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Once they were done on that they wanted to go on Flight of the Hippogriff which was just across from the Hogwarts castle so we queued for that and as per usual I chickened out when we got to the front. Becca and Jess said that was good too.

After that we did a bit of shopping, Becca bought a Slytherin t-shirt and we each bought a chocolate frog so that we could see who’s cards we got. I got Dumbledore, Becca got Godric Gryffindor and Jess got Bertie Bott. We bought one for Hirst to bring back to the UK and she got Rowena Ravenclaw which was lucky as that’s which house she’s in.

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We decided to grab lunch at this point so we found a pizza place. I’m not a fan of pizza but Becca’s a vegetarian and hadn’t been able to eat much for the past couple of weeks but we wanted her to have a decent meal on her birthday so we went in and she got a vegetarian pizza. I think Jess had the same and there was some pork dish thing that I ordered which wasn’t fantastic but it was better than nothing.

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We had a quick look at the map and then wandered around until we found the Spider-Man ride. Becca and Jess went on whilst I waited outside for them. I wish I wasn’t afraid of rides, it’s such a pain. They came out and said they’d really enjoyed it so must’ve been good. We decided to get ice-cream after that because it was so hot in Japan while we were there and everybody loves a good ice-cream.

After that I paid to have a go on a game where you throw balls at milk bottles to win prizes. I started off well ‘cos my first throw knocked them all over, it was only because one of the bottles stayed on the stand that I lost. I was like ‘okay I’ve got it down, just need to improve my technique a bit’. After that I got progressively worse somehow so I didn’t win anything but it had been fun.

We walked off again and found an Insidious ride but you had to collect tickets before you could go in so we got ours but they weren’t valid until 6:15PM so we had time to kill. We found a zombie thing and I joined the queue with my friends. I was debating whether to go for it and when the doors opened I nearly chickened out but followed my friends in. We were taken into a large room where we watched several videos and actors – the whole thing was in Japanese but we got the gist that there was a zombie apocalypse. A code came on one of the screens and we weren’t sure if we needed to remember it or not so Jess memorised it just in case.

We were taken outside and I was initially disappointed ‘cos I thought that was the whole thing but we joined another queue and went to an outdoor bit where we had to navigate a sort of maze and avoid the zombies. I was running around screaming my head off and when I made it to the next queue a zombie came down and rattled a box behind me so I shrieked again. We were taken around a corner and a large zombie was killed in some water or something because we got absolutely soaked.

We ran back into another building and my memories a bit fuzzy ‘cos I was panicking at the time (but also having fun!) – I remember a lady was yelling at us in Japanese but I didn’t know what she was saying so Jess dragged me and Becca into this little nook in the wall and we tried to cover ourselves with a curtain but it wouldn’t quite go round with all three of us there. We were told to come out and we were watching this woman when a massive zombie appeared behind her so we screamed and ran off.

We got to the end and we had to choose whether to go left or right and I hate making decisions but luckily Jess made it for us and we went left with two other girls. We had to input the code from earlier but the girls in front remembered it and we’d chosen the right path because we succeeded and the side next to us failed. We ran out and it was over! We all sat down to talk about it, agreed it had been hilarious and then I had to have several sips of water because all the screaming had killed my throat.

We carried on walking and Jess and Becca found The Flying Dinosaur ride so decided to queue for that. They asked if I wanted to queue with them but we’d been travelling together almost two weeks at this point so I decided to just sit by myself for a bit. I got a little bit too relaxed because after about half-an-hour I leaned against a pole, ‘rested my eyes’ and ended up falling asleep. Next thing I knew Becca was shaking me awake.

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They told me about their experience on the ride and apparently it wasn’t a good one. They didn’t feel secure in the ride and it just wasn’t a fun experience, even Jess said she’d been terrified so I was glad I didn’t go on even though I’d have never had the nerve anyway.

We joined the queue for the Jurassic Park ride and Jess tried to convince me to go on “It’s just a relaxing boat ride looking at the dinosaurs.” She told me. Becca read out the description in our leaflet which said ‘a boat ride with dinosaurs with a thrilling drop at the end’. “The drop’s not that big” Jess reassured me.

I spent the whole queue debating but the safety video didn’t make the drop look too big and at the start of the ride there’s a little ramp that the boat goes up so I asked Jess if that was as big as the drop was and she assured me that yes it was. What a load of rubbish.

I sat in the ride and immediately said “I’m actually not sure anymore” but Becca and Jess were on one side of me and two strangers were on the other side so Becca told me “Well it’s too late now” and the ride got started. It wasn’t too bad to begin with although I was a bit fearful of the drop but seeing the dinosaurs was cool. Then suddenly our boat went vertical and we started climbing up quite high. I was proper getting into panic mode at this point but there was nothing to do, it wasn’t like I could get off the ride!

We got to the end with the massive T-Rex roaring at us but I barely looked at it because I was craning to see the drop which to most people probably wasn’t that big but to me, who was expecting a little baby drop, was MASSIVE. I screamed the entire way down while Becca and Jess wailed about ruining their hair and make-up. When we hit the bottom we got pretty wet because we’d been sat at the front of the bloody boat. I was relieved when we got to the bottom and was glad I’d been on it but NEVER AGAIN.

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We decided to get dinner next since our Insidious time slot was coming up so we went into the Jaws themed restaurant which was like a fast food place. It was overlooking the Jaws ride which I’ve seen videos of on Facebook and it looks like fun but me and Becca are scared of sharks so we didn’t go on it. I know it’s not a real shark but even knowing these fake sharks are in the water would’ve put me on edge.

Once we were done with dinner we headed in the direction of the Insidious attraction and it was getting dark at this point and lots of announcements were being made. Because it was October there was a lot of Halloween themed entertainment going on with actors dressed up going round scaring people which was pretty funny – if one came near me or Becca we screamed and ran in the opposite direction.

We headed into the Insidious attraction and I knew I’d enjoy it if it was like the zombie one but queuing for it is always the worst bit because my imagination runs wild. When we got to the front we had to hold onto a piece of red cloth with four girls in front of us, then me, then Jess and then Becca at the back. She begged to swap and I felt bad because it was her birthday but I was too scared to swap!

We went in and I feel like I didn’t appreciate it enough ‘cos I was so scared but I feel terrible for these four girls in front because they barely flinched, they had me behind them screaming my head off at everything, Jess just behind laughing so hard that she couldn’t breath and then Becca at the back screaming and yelling “Don’t touch me!” every ten seconds. I definitely remember the last room which was full of people underneath cloths and we didn’t know which one was real and which were mannequins until one started jerking around and I screamed then apparently that or something followed us out of the room. I’m not gonna lie the stress was real and it was so well done. Definitely recommend.

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We were going to squeeze in another ride when we came out but there was still some entertainment on so we ended up joining a zombie rave, which Becca absolutely loved. Once we’d watched all that we decided to go shopping a bit earlier in the hopes that it wouldn’t be too crowded and it was okay to be fair, we got a few souvenirs each.

There was a night parade on so our plan was to grab some snacks and find our spot but most of the snacks carts closed down for some reason so we just found a spot anyway. It was nice to sit down but unfortunately unlike at the Disney parades where everyone was just left to sit we were told that if you weren’t on the front row you had to stand up which was a PAIN in my anus but the parade was amazing. My favourites were the Harry Potter and Jurassic Park floats. It would have been better if it had been a bit longer but it was still amazing.

Overall I loved Universal Studios but I think I preferred Disneyland a little bit more. Jess preferred Universal and I think Becca did too, I can’t remember. I agree with what Jess said, that what’s interesting is that all sections of the park look completely different to each other whereas at Disney they can blend together a bit. I think Universal is better for people who like big, fast rides whereas Disney has more of a variety. Maybe I just wasn’t looking in the right places, I don’t know. Also the Disney parades were better but that’s kind of what Disney is known for. I would definitely go back if given the opportunity.

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Our Day Trip to Mt Fuji and the Aokigahara Forest

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When planning our trip to Japan we all agreed we wanted to see Mt Fuji and the Aokigahara Suicide Forest but we had read it can be quite difficult to reach by yourself from Tokyo by public transport so in the end we booked a day trip. It cost around £100 each but it was the easiest way to see the mountain and we would also briefly visit the Aokigahara Forest to go down into an ice cave.

We booked the day trip for the Wednesday as this was halfway through the trip and we knew we’d appreciate the long coach journey there as our legs and feet would be aching. As it turned out we were absolutely exhausted on the day as we’d had a full, long day at Disneyland the day before and then we had to be up early to go on the trip in time.

The trip left from a hotel and it was relatively easy to find. It was a good hotel because it contained a convenience store so we were able to stock up on lunch items as our package hadn’t included lunch, we checked into the trip, used the loo and then waited until our tour group was collected. We were all given stickers to wear and as we were waiting a horrific realisation dawned upon all of us – only our stickers said ‘cave.’ Nobody else’s said that. We weren’t seriously going to go down the caves as just the three of us and one tour guide?

Our tour guide picked us up and led us to the coach that would take us to Mt Fuji. She was really nice, she introduced herself (I’ve already forgotten her name) and then talked us through the day. On the coach we realised it would genuinely just be the three of us heading down the caves because after going to the mountain the rest of our group was going to lunch at a hotel then going on a boat ride. We were getting dropped off at the hotel and someone would come and pick us up for the cave tour. Fantastic.

We’d been looking forward to a couple of hours of sleep, or listening to music or just generally relaxing on the coach but our tour guide was having none of that. On the way there we all sang a song, did some origami and she told us a story about two mountains. She also pointed out things of interest on the way and gave us so many facts about Mt Fuji that I couldn’t possibly remember them all.

We’d all been warned in advance by many websites and vloggers that most people don’t see the summit because it’s normally covered by clouds but we were lucky as it was a clear day so we could see it. Our tour guide was delighted and kept preparing us for good photo opportunities out of the window.

We drove straight up to the fifth station which is the highest point that vehicles can go. The views were AMAZING, not just of Mt Fuji itself but we were above the clouds at this point so the view downwards looked beautiful. Unfortunately it was quite bright that day so I’m squinting in pretty much all of my photos and look a mess but the view was perfect.

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Shout-out to our tour guide who had given us a map of everywhere we should go whilst at the fifth station. We were all given a token to receive a free ‘lucky bell’ which apparently had been taken to the top of Mt Fuji and blessed at a shrine I believe? Our tour guide made sure we all received our lucky bell and she’d pointed out other places to visit on the little map. We all bought a couple of souvenirs – I bought a little Mt Fuji plushie (for some reason, I don’t know what I was thinking) and some Mt Fuji biscuits that I was thinking of either keeping or giving away as a gift. They got a bit bashed in my suitcase on the way back but never mind.

We took as many photos as possible and then headed back to the coach – our tour guide had made sure we didn’t get lost by pointing the way and making us note down the registration. When she got on the coach she told us we could’ve stopped at the first station but since one couple were late back we couldn’t. Then she had the idea of missing five minutes of lunch so we could stop so we made a stop at the first station and took some photos from there too.

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We carried on to the hotel which was a short drive away and from that point we were on our own. We headed in the direction of a park but ended up sat on the floor outside of some houses to eat our lunch. It wasn’t too bad since it was a nice day, wouldn’t have been so fun if it had been raining or freezing cold though.

We walked back to the hotel and sat outside to wait for our coach. Our new tour guide pulled up and we realised it was definitely going to just be the three of us on this tour. She introduced herself (I half remember her name but don’t wanna write it in case I’m wrong!) and we hopped into her car. From the way we’d been sat outside the hotel Jess and Becca both got to sit in the back while I told them I hated them both because I had to sit in the front with the tour guide. To be fair she was nice so it wasn’t too bad.

We made a stop on the way so that we could have a last minute loo break and we put on our overalls over our clothes. I was so worried that mine wouldn’t fit because I am quite big but luckily they were a little baggy so it wasn’t an issue. She also gave us our helmets and gloves which we would need in the cave. We still had a good view of Mt Fuji so she took some photos of us with the mountain in the background.

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We got back in the car and she drove us to the edge of the forest, and we all walked towards it. She stopped us at the gate to formally introduce herself and she asked us what we knew about the forest. None of us wanted to say we knew it was famous for suicides so Jess explained “Recently there was a controversy where a guy came here, found something he shouldn’t have and posted it on the internet and received a lot of backlash.” Obviously referring to Logan Paul. Our tour guide was like “I don’t know much about that but this forest is famous as the place where people come to commit suicide.” Oh, so we were allowed to mention it.

She went on to explain that we were not at the area this was commonly known for so we weren’t going to be coming across any dead bodies and then she went through some safety instructions which included not straying from the path and that we weren’t allowed to take a little stone home with us as a souvenir. Apparently we’d have got fined a lot of money.

We set off and she knew so much stuff about the forest that it was unreal. It’s such an interesting forest and it’s quite sad that the fascination everyone has with it, myself included originally, is the suicide part. Did you know the roots can’t grow underground because of the lava that’s in the soil so they grow outwards instead? It was just really beautiful.

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At one point our tour guide stopped and asked us why we thought it might be easy to get lost in this forest. My thoughts were that if we went in too deep we wouldn’t be able to hear any like traffic or outside noises due to the trees but I was too shy to suggest this. Nothing could’ve prepared us for Jess’ answer which was “Because the spirits may mislead you.” To which our tour guide was like “… Not quite. The lava in the soil can affect your compass and make it point the wrong way.”

It was a bit of a trek to the cave and we had to climb over a fallen log on the way. I took one look at it and realised I wouldn’t be able to clamber over. I asked one of my friends for advice, I can’t remember whether it was Becca or Jess, and they told me to crawl under it so I had to do that. It wasn’t very graceful but at least I made it.

We made it to the cave and firstly we had to climb down into the middle bit and at this point I began to stress a little because I took it quite slowly, still managed to whack my head several times (thank god for the helmet) and a couple of times was convinced I would fall but I made it to the middle bit eventually. At this point we were below ground but it was still open above us so we were still out in the open.

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The next step was climbing down some rocks, onto a bamboo ladder and down into the cave. Now at this point I really did start to panic ‘cos I hadn’t been able to hop the bloody log but now I needed to shimmy down some rocks and onto a ladder? Surely there was no chance. Our tour guide went first, followed by Becca who was a little nervous but made it down, and then by Jess who isn’t afraid of anything really. Then suddenly it was my turn.

I started to go down and then panicked and asked her “But what if I fall?” to which she responded in a done voice “You won’t fall.” I kept putting my foot back and then going ‘ooh no’ and bring it back so in the end she had to be like “You’re so close, stop going back!” She grabbed my foot, and I finally managed to put it on the ladder.

Jess looked up, watched me coming down the ladder and went “Well done Hollie!” so I responded “Pal I appreciate your support but you are blinding me.” We’d switched on our head lamps and they were really bright in the dark cave. After what felt like a lifetime I was finally in the cave and we could start exploring.

Someone in the reviews had advised that you need to be quite physically fit for the caves and I could now see what they meant. It was quite literally a climb through the caves and like a moron I’d forgotten to wear my tacky shoes that morning so I was wearing my vans which probably got a little bit ruined. At least I didn’t lose them like someone else had which our tour guide pointed out as their shoe was still in the cave.

The worst part was when we reached the ‘ice’ bit, I tried to hold on to the walls or rocks whenever I could but then we got to an open bit and we had to head out into the middle. She’d advised us to walk slowly or like penguins but I still kept slipping every two seconds and kept grabbing Jess, making her stress that I was going to pull us both down. Our tour guide told us we couldn’t go any further because there was a slope downwards and due to the ice we’d never be able to get back up. We posed for a photo in front of it and Jess got stressed that I was going to knock her down it but luckily I did not.

When we got back up our tour guide suggested we all switch our lamps off and experience complete darkness. I wasn’t particularly a fan of this idea but we all did so and it was entirely pitch black. She went on to explain that our eyes would never adjust to the dark because there wasn’t any natural light coming in. She then pointed out that our voices didn’t echo so if something happened and we screamed for help down here no one would hear us. At this point I was a bit like ‘omg is she planning to murder us?’ because it did sound like she was getting closer but obviously… She didn’t murder us. Becca did try to scare Jess by tapping her and I’m pretty sure someone tried to do the same to me. The only thing creeping me out was that it reminded me a little of ‘The Descent’ and considering how slow I was in the cave I knew I wouldn’t stand a chance if some little creatures started chasing us.

We started to head back out of the cave and she asked if we wanted to climb out a different way but that way would be more difficult. The others didn’t mind but I asked if we could go the same way ‘cos I knew I’d be lucky if I could make it back up that bamboo ladder, let alone climbing out a more difficult way. I watched the others head up and take the obligatory photo on the top of the ladder and then followed them myself. I was worried I’d get stuck or something but luckily I made it up without any issues.

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Our tour guide took some photos of us outside the cave and then suggested we go for a walk through the forest since we were done earlier than expected. I was aching all over but we were all keen to see more of the forest so we agreed. It wasn’t a long walk but she showed us heaps more stuff and got us doing some weird things, she wanted us to climb a tree branch, swing on a vine and got us to stand inside a hollow log. Jess had gone in with her headlamp on and said it was full of bugs – she didn’t tell me this because she knew I’d chicken out if I knew so I went in and it was weird, if you stood up everything outside was muffled.

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The forest was amazing and I really can’t explain just how much she knew, it was TONS. By the time we got back to her car I was grateful to sit down though, my entire body just ached from clambering through that cave. It had definitely been worth it though.

Earlier that morning our first tour guide had given us some bus tickets to get back to Tokyo so our forest tour guide dropped us off at the bus station which happened to be right in front of a massive theme park which she told us had free entry, you just needed to pay for the rides. We could see a HUGE rollercoaster which Becca and Jess were keen to go on so we rushed down but when they queued up it was quite a lot and a long wait so we didn’t bother, we got some food instead. I’d like to go back one day just to visit the theme park to be honest because apparently it’s really popular with the Japanese people… I have forgotten what it was called though.

We headed back to the bus station and it was a guessing game on which bus was ours. We literally took it in turns approaching every bus, holding out our tickets and going “Us? Our bus?” Eventually we hit the right one though and took our seats at the back. I was jealous when Becca took out her headphones because I’d forgotten to bring mine but it didn’t matter, the three of us were asleep in literally seconds. I was so shocked when we reached Tokyo because the bus journey took two hours, it felt like it had been about two minutes.

So if in Tokyo I definitely recommend a visit to Mt Fuji and the ice cave because it was one of the highlights of our trip, I’m so glad we got to see them. I’d love to explore more of the Aokigahara Forest and revisit that theme park we went to. Definitely go if you’re in Japan!

Themed Cafes in Japan

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One thing I was really looking forward to and loved in Japan were their themed cafes. We booked a few in advance, turned up to some and had some funny experiences at some. So I decided to write a blog post of the quirky/themed cafes we visited in Japan!

Kawaii Monster Café

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Ever since I heard of this place I wanted to visit and luckily Becca and Jess wanted to as well. There’s a small fee to get in and I think you have to order one drink and one food item each. Becca managed to book us a table in advance meaning we got to skip the queue and we were given a cute booth right in the middle of the café.

The moment the doors open you’re greeted by a girl dressed in whacky clothes who takes you to your table and explains what’s available and how to order. I thought they were waitresses but they’re more entertainers because they don’t take orders or bring food.

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My only downside was that the food wasn’t very tasty, I ordered chicken and waffles and the waffles were really dry and I wasn’t particularly a fan of the chicken either. Becca ordered some rainbow spaghetti which looked quite cute. We also ordered dessert, I got a rainbow slice of cake which looked really sweet but again it was let down a little bit by the taste. Jess ordered a pet bowl thing which was cereal with ice cream underneath which was quite cute. What I did like was that you didn’t have to do the awkward ‘how can we catch the waiters attention’ thing, there was a button you could press and someone would come over.

You’re only allowed your table for 90 minutes and at 1PM, when our 90 minutes was up, the entertainers put on a show which was fun and really cute. I’d go just for the cute Instagram pictures to be honest because the whole café just looks absolutely amazing. I’d definitely recommend it if in Tokyo but don’t expect much from the food.

Maidreamin

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I heard of Maid cafes through Dan and Phil who visited one while they were in Japan and I wanted to experience one myself even though I knew it would be a bit cringe. Jess wanted to as well, Becca was less keen but the two of us insisted so we dragged her to a Maidreamin café ‘cos I’d read online that this chain was quite good.

Google Maps was taking us to the main one in Akihibara when I noticed a sign for one right next to us in the area we were already visiting so we took the lift up to the café and discovered we were the only people in there. We knew the experience would be a bit embarrassing but this made it about a thousand times worse.

To be fair our maid was really lovely but the experience was completely new to us. She brought over a fake candle and we had to do cute actions to make it ‘light up’. Then she put some animal ears on our heads without asking and seeing Becca’s face as she did this was truly hilarious. She explained the menu to us and told us when we wanted to order we had to say ‘miaow miaow’ while pretending to be a cat.

I wanted savoury food preferably but I wanted the set so I went for the cheapest one which included a dessert, a souvenir and a picture with the maid. Jess went for the same one and Becca wanted some spaghetti. We made eye contact with our maid who clearly knew we wanted to order and she looked us dead in the eye and went “Miaow miaow?” so we had to do the action to get her to come over and take our order.

She kept coming back over to chat to us which of course was part of the experience. Her English was quite good and for anything she didn’t know she used her phone. We had our food, mine and Jess’ ice cream were animal themed and they were so cute then we went on the stage to take our photo. Me and Jess were allowed to come up together and the maid called to Becca to come up as well but she was like “No.” and refused to come up.

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If I were in Tokyo again I’d actually want to go back, preferably to the more popular Maidreamin to get the ‘full experience’ but it was tons of fun even if it was a bit cringe. I’m not sure we could ever convince Becca to go back though.

The Lock-up

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We were worried with this one that if we didn’t book in advance we wouldn’t be able to get in – I can’t remember but I think we read somewhere that all the themed cafes are popular so it’s best to book in advance otherwise you’re not guaranteed a table. This was almost impossible to book because it required a Japanese phone number which of course I didn’t have so in the end I put in a fake number and the booking finally went through after tons of stressing. With the booking we had to book a set meal option and I selected ‘pay on arrival’.

We went on a Monday night and my advice would be to just turn up because we passed quite a few empty cells so if you want to go then that’s probably best. The woman who greeted us didn’t speak any English which like is fine ‘cos it’s a Japanese restaurant but it was made very awkward as we tried to explain we had a reservation and she didn’t understand. She also wore a mask that covered her entire face which made the misunderstandings a lot more difficult. Luckily we’d printed off our reservation so we got there in the end. She handcuffed Jess and led us all to our prison cell – quite quickly down a set of stairs, I’m glad it was Jess she handcuffed otherwise I’d have fallen to my death down those stairs trying to keep up with her!

You’re taken into a little booth designed to look like a prison cell and they shut the door leaving you in there alone – they don’t lock it obviously because that would be a massive fire hazard. There’s a screen where you can order whatever food you want and they bring it but as we had our set meal we didn’t do this. One guy came in to explain the drinks to us but his English wasn’t amazing either so it was all a bit confusing but we got there in the end. We didn’t go for the weird drinks because these cost extra so me and Jess went for an orange juice and Becca accidentally ordered a cocktail or something.

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They started bringing the food out and I’ll be honest it was very hit and miss. They brought out some cooked meat which I really enjoyed but lots of other dishes were not appealing to us. They brought out some chips which we all appreciated but they’d covered these in a pink sauce – none of us were sure what the sauce was but we didn’t like it so we tried to just eat the uncovered ones. My favourite had to be when they brought us something purple in a round dish and Becca confidently said “It’s purple custard!” She took a large spoonful and went “Ooh and there’s some kind of cake sponge at the bottom.” Took the biggest mouthful I have ever seen, went still and said in a horrified voice “It’s some kind of cheese.”

Halfway through the meal all the lights go out and your iPad where you can order the food comes up with a little ‘warning’ sign which is the point where the staff go from cell to cell scaring their customers which was a lot of fun. Becca was sat closest to the door so she got picked on the most and it was just really funny. I wish we had more places like that in the UK.

I would recommend coming here but here are some tips: Don’t book in advance, turning up and just ordering what you want is certain to work out better. Be aware that this place is quite expensive, that one meal cost us a lot more than I had expected. If anyone there is celebrating a birthday they will play the birthday song on repeat for at least ten minutes at a time. It is weird but it’s also tons of fun!

Hedgehog Café

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I’m going to warn you in advance if you plan on visiting one day – they do not serve food here. Do not turn up feeling hungry like me and Jess did. This was Becca’s café of choice and we decided to go on my birthday since we couldn’t go to Disneyland but unfortunately Becca started to feel unwell so couldn’t come. Me and Jess turned up quite hungry and discovered the word ‘café’ is not literal.

You have to put exact change into a machine which gives you a ticket and you can choose your option. You can either stay for half-an-hour or an hour and you have the option of buying hedgehog food as well. We went for an hour and got the hedgehog food as well because Jess had read that the hedgehogs are more likely to wake up and be alert if you have the food.

You’re allowed one drink out of the vending machine so Jess went for some kind of pop that isn’t available in the UK as it was free so she could try it and I went for a hot chocolate which to be fair was really tasty. You’re taken to a little trough where the staff explain how to pick up and interact with the hedgehogs.

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I think what makes this place good is that the staff are really friendly – they jumped in and offered to take photos for every guest, Jess went around to get some shots for her vlog and one guy took the biggest hedgehog out of his pen to show her and told her his name and some stuff about him (the hedgehog that is, not himself). I’m glad we went for an hour because half-an-hour would’ve been way too quick and the whole thing was super cute. I’d definitely go back. We bought Becca a little hedgehog plushie to make up for the fact that she couldn’t come but next time in Tokyo we’ll make sure she gets to go!

Alice in Magical Land

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There’s a sort of chain of Alice in Wonderland cafes in Tokyo and we decided we had to go so we settled on Alice in Magical Land. It was at the bottom of a shopping centre and all the waitresses are dressed up as Alice and they all looked super cute. They served us water and told us if we wanted to get their attention we just had to yell “Alice!” None of us had the nerve to do this but luckily they came over regularly.

The foods are all themed around Alice in Wonderland so me and Jess got some Cheshire Cat spaghetti and Becca got… Some… Avocado caterpillar spaghetti I wanna say? I’m not gonna lie this wasn’t the tastiest meal I’ve ever had on the planet but it was cute and the whole café is so adorable.

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The waitresses brought us over some bunny ears so we got to take some cute photos with them – we were going to take pictures with certain parts of the café which I think Becca and Jess may have done but I decided to pay the bill mostly in coins to get rid of them and as I was carrying it to the till I kept dropping them to the point where the waitresses had to come and help me. Embarrassing. It was a cute place though and I’m glad we went.

Robot Restaurant

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Luckily we’d read online that food was not available at this place so we were sort of prepared… Except we still felt a bit full after the Kaiwaii Monster café so we weren’t actually hungry until about 9PM, when the show was due to start. We were advised there was fair type food for example candyfloss, popcorn and we noticed a food stand when we entered only to be advised that he had sold out. We went to the other stand and ordered some chicken and chips which luckily was in stock. We got stressed that the show would start before the food was ready but we were advised to take our seats and this would be brought to us and to be fair, it did arrive really quickly.

The emphasis on the robot restaurant is the show that they put on and it’s quite steep at 8000 yen but we had heard it was unmissable and looking at just the décor outside I was excited because it looked amazing. Although the show was a lot of fun I still felt a little disappointed when we left – there was more emphasis on the actors than there was on the robots themselves and for the price I low-key felt like it hadn’t been worth it.

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Also, they take you to your seat and you have to squeeze between the tables to get to them – I literally thought the person was joking when they told us to walk through as the gap was non-existent and I’m a bit on the larger side so it was a bit embarrassing having to squeeze through but not an issue once you’re in your seat I guess.

I’m glad I went just to say I’ve been but it’s not an experience I’m in a rush to repeat.

Caesar Café

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When we were planning our trip we’d get exhausted of the actual planning and then watch vlogs to hype ourselves up and that’s how we discovered this K-Pop themed café. It’s an area full of K-Pop shops and from the outside you wouldn’t guess the theme as it looks like an ordinary café and I suppose inside there isn’t a ton of emphasis on K-Pop – they do play K-Pop music videos though and have a few posters on the walls.

The best part about this café though for K-Pop fans is the drinks. You’re allowed to pick a mug with your favourite group on it and if you pick certain groups they’ll put the logo in chocolate powder on top of the drink, as you can see they did with Becca’s as she chose a Super Junior mug. I went for Girls’ Generation and Jess had Black Pink so we only got hearts. I wish I’d gone for the BTS one but as we all love BTS it felt a bit too obvious but I wish I had upon reflection. I will if I ever return!

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We went there on the morning of my birthday and it was probably the best birthday breakfast I’ve ever had, we all had pancakes and they were quite possibly the tastiest pancakes I’ve ever had. If you’re a K-Pop fan I definitely recommend going, we were the only people in there and everything was amazing – the staff were nice, the food/drinks were amazing and they play K-Pop like how can you go wrong?

Owl Café

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This place was in Osaka and was another one where there’s not actually any food but there is a drink included. I’m not the biggest fan of owls to be truthful, I once had a dream that everywhere I looked in my house there was an owl and since then it’s put me off a bit but I went with an open mind. We were the only people in there as we had been for a few other places. We each had an orange juice then went to pet the owls.

You’re not allowed to stroke them anywhere other than their beaks as otherwise they get stressed out so for most of it I reached out my hand to stroke them and then chickened out at the last second because I was worried about getting pecked. The owls were quite sweet but I felt a bit sorry for them just having to be stuck in this little café for peoples enjoyment. Overall though it was still a good time.

So yeah, those are the themed cafes we visited in Japan! I had a ton of fun at all of them, even the awkward or embarrassing moments. Leave a comment of any themed cafes you’ve visited or if you want to visit any!

Tokyo Disneyland

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Recently me and my friends got back from an amazing trip in Asia where we visited Japan (Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka) and South Korea (just Seoul). One of the things I’d been looking forward to the most was spending my birthday at Tokyo Disneyland. Unfortunately a typhoon was set to hit on my birthday and the weather was meant to be dreary so we pushed it back by a couple of days. On the day we went the weather was perfect and it was probably less crowded than it would have been on a Sunday anyway.

My biggest stresses were getting to the park and purchasing tickets. I was worried it would be difficult to reach but it wasn’t, it was just a short train journey away and although the park was very busy it didn’t take as long as I’d dreaded to buy our park tickets. The queues went relatively quickly and soon we were inside the park.

I’ve only ever been to Disneyland Paris and it’s on my bucket list to visit all the Disneyland’s across the globe so I was excited to tick another one off the list. Entering the park was amazing because I’d been excitedly watching vlogs for the past few months so to walk through where I’d seen so many of these vloggers walking through was so fun.

Our first stop was ‘Sweethearts Café’ because for some reason in Tokyo we didn’t buy any breakfast foods, we normally just ate a bar of chocolate and then got on with our day so by the time we’d reached Disneyland we were starving. I like that you can just walk in and help yourself to what you want, it was good because it was mostly pastries so Becca (our vegetarian friend who STRUGGLED in Asia) could grab pretty much anything she wanted. I had a Mickey Mouse brownie, a meat pasty and an orange juice. There was a Mike Wazowski melon bread which looked really cute but I was worried I wouldn’t like it so I gave it a miss.

We decided that instead of doing what we did at Disneyland Paris which was wonder around the park and go on any ride we liked the look of we would look at the map and pick out rides instead. Our first stop was Space Mountain because Jess had wanted to ride this at the Paris park but unfortunately we ran out of time so we went there first to tick it off her list.

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When we got there the queue was quite long and we did consider fast passes but decided not to in the end and just joined the queue. We went up the stairs and then there was a section for those who didn’t want to ride to leave the queue so that’s where I left because unfortunately I’m a bit of a wimp and not a fan of big rides. I waited maybe half-an-hour for the two of them to come out and they told me it had been amazing.

I’d seen a ride in someone else’s vlog called Pooh’s Hunny Hunt and since then I’d been desperate to go on so I insisted we queue for it. It was a long wait and it wasn’t shaded like Space Mountain so I think we all got a little bit burnt since it was so hot that day. Some parts were shaded ‘cos it was meant to be the hundred acre wood but not all of it so yeah, definitely bring your hat and sun cream. We’d assumed it would be cold in Japan in October ‘cos it’s cold in England in October. Not the case.

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I’m really glad we went on it ‘cos it was tons of fun – it’s a trackless ride and you go around in a honey pot and it was just tons of fun, probably one of my favourite rides of the day.

We wanted some water but couldn’t really find anywhere and we stumbled across the ‘It’s a Small World’ ride so we decided to queue for that – the queue time was long and it was not shaded even a little bit but it went a lot quicker than expected. The ride was sweet and it was nice that they’ve added Disney characters into their world section, it was fun going through and pointing them all out. To be honest for a lot of the rides it was just nice to sit down and have a break ‘cos although we were only four days into the trip we were already aching.

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We decided to get lunch after this and had a look at the restaurants on offer on the map and settled on a curry place. Becca just had a coke and me and Jess got a curry each. I’m not normally the biggest curry fan so I didn’t finish it but it was nice and so was the rice. Again, it was just nice to sit down for a while.

Since me and Jess had both chosen our rides that we really wanted to go on we told Becca she had to pick ‘her’ ride and she settled on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. I debated whether or not to go on and Jess kept reassuring me with “It’ll be fine, it’s just a boat ride” and there were quite a few kids in the queue so I decided to give it a go. There was a drop halfway through, it wasn’t steep and I did scream my head off at it but it wasn’t too bad. Jess did warn me it was coming as well so at least it wasn’t too much of a shock. I’m glad I went on because the animatronic pirates looked amazing, I was half-convinced that they were real.

After the ride we decided to get photos with the castle and a cast member very kindly offered to take our picture and brought us round to a different spot where we got an even better photo. Then we went a bit closer and got individual photos because you have to at Disney, don’t you?

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Then we decided to ride the carasoul ‘cos we’d ridden the one at Disneyland Paris and apparently it’s just a thing now that we always need to ride the carasoul if there’s one available. We didn’t all get to sit together so Becca and Jess sat on horses next to each other and I sat on the one behind them. I bloody love carasouls not gonna lie.

As the tea cups were right next to them we went there next and that was fun too although after a bad ride on the waltzers a few years ago I don’t enjoy them as much as I used to. I felt a bit bad because Jess and Becca wanted to reach the peak of spininess but I couldn’t handle it like a wuss.

Once we were done on the tea cups we went and claimed our spot for the Halloween parade. People had claimed their spots for the parade the moment the park had opened but we managed to find a good spot sat on a wall. They started teaching us a dance before the parade began and watching Becca do this was pretty funny.

My one regret from Disneyland Paris was that we hadn’t seen a parade so I’m glad we got to see a Halloween themed one at Disneyland Tokyo because we all love Halloween. The songs were amazing, the floats looked incredible and the choreography was on point. I took a lot of videos of it for my Instagram story because it was just fantastic.

Once the parade was over Jess wanted to go on Big Thunder Mountain so we joined the queue and that was probably the longest queue of the day. It was another one that I didn’t have the balls to go on but I couldn’t leave when we got to the front like I had on the other rides – I only got out because I was stuck with some other guy who begged to be let across to join his girlfriend so I followed him. Becca and Jess were already long off the ride at this point.

We decided to get dinner but in the end I was the only one that ate because we struggled to find anywhere with vegetarian options and Jess was feeling a bit sick at this point. I had a Mickey glove chicken burger which looked cute but wasn’t as tasty as I’d hoped. At least I had fries to go with it.

It was late at this point so we decided to grab our spot for the night time parade and again we managed to get a good spot, right by the castle this time. Becca and Jess also got themselves some popcorn to keep themselves going. The night time parade was even better than the Halloween one because it was electric themed and featured a lot more characters and was just generally amazing. My favourites included the Genie, Cheshire Cat and Peter Pan floats. Me and Becca got a wave off Peter Pan and then hi-fived each other because we were so happy about it.

Once the parade was over we had to stand up to watch the fireworks display by the castle which was also amazing but would’ve been better if it had been a little bit longer. Never mind, it was still amazing. Then once the fireworks were done we decided to buy souvenirs before we left but unfortunately the entire park had the same idea so it was difficult to browse. We bought our friend Hirst a present then I got some stuff but I think we were all ready to go once that was done.

Overall it was an amazing day and if I was in Tokyo I’d definitely go back to Disneyland. All the cast members were brilliant at their jobs, the parades looked fantastic and it was just such a good day. I wouldn’t have changed anything about it.