Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Sucker Punched By Japan: Huis Ten Bosch

Here's some pictures! I took a lot. Like, almost the same amount as 6 days in Tokyo:

Temples, China Town, and Mount Inasa

Penguin Aquarium

So let me explain. There are times here where I figuratively get punched in the face by Japan for various reasons. I underestimate Japan, do not expect something, or something is just so off the wall you just have to shake your head and say 'Oh, Japan...' This seemed to be the theme for this day.

I was hellfire determined to catch that bus to the Penguin Aquarium. So determined. I go to the stop they told me, and wait for the bus to come. 10 minutes after the bus is supposed to come (and after asking 3 different bus drivers who told me to go to East bus stop), I switched to said bus stop. The problem is apparently on weekends and holidays the bus goes to South bus stop, and normally goes to East. But the sign doesn't say so? I don't know, so I go to East and ask people there if this is the right stop, they say yes, no bus. Fed up, I go to the Information desk and told them I was waiting for a bus that didn't show up. She called the bus company who said the buses were fine....why can't I find this bus?

So I go back to South, and praise Jesus there's the bus. An hourish later? I asked the bus driver if it went to the Penguin Aquarium just to hear him say it did. :)

So I finally. Finally. Get to the freakin Penguin Aquarium, the cutest place ever. It's also Kodomo no Hi, or Kid's Day, so there's adorable kids everywhere looking at adorable penguins. There was also a little "virtual theater" which had a 3D interactive follow the penguin type adventure. Very cute.

There was also the smallest penguin in the world, aptly named the Little Penguin, heehee. I also stumbled on a pile of penguins being paraded to the beach just for cuteness sake. It was really fun :)

Need I mention I did all this in a half hour? Take that information desk lady ;)

Stupid bus.

So, mission finally accomplished, I return to the train station to figure out how to get tickets for the hour and 20ish minutes to Huis Ten Bosch, where one of the nice station ladies walked me to the place to buy to and return tickets. She also answered my thousand questions as to how long it would take, if it was reserved seating (it looked like a Shinkansen ticket) and what platform, etc.

So I get on the train, and people come and go in the seat next to me (it's a normal train, I was just on it for a very long time, haha) At one point, this nice older lady sits next to me; she speaks decent English. She began telling me (and showing me pictures) of the gaijin she met yesterday (one was very tall and one was black, I can see why she would take pictures). She also had them sign the back of her planner.

Then she had me take a picture with her and sign the back of her planner. Yes this happened. It was too cute.

So we arrive around 1ish, YAY! My plan was to make it by noon, so it wasn't too bad. It closes at nine, and although its a theme park, its not a theme park that really has anything to ride. Except the One Piece Pirate Ship, The Thousand Sunny. Oh yes. There were also a million shops and world markets and restaurants and things. So I bought the entrance ticket, and decided to skip getting a ticket for the Golden Week firework show/competition thing, called the Fireworks World Cup, until I get to the One Piece section, because apparently there were tickets to see them from the ship (I was sure they'd be gone, but you never know)

Funny story, the One Piece part of the park was in the free part of the park, so I didn't need to buy a ticket to the boring part....but I know I woulda done anyway, that's kind of the point of being there, haha. It wasn't that expensive.

So I hike to the opposite side of the park (PS, passed a dude in front of a table with Sminoff advertised....more on that later) where the ship is, and lo! Not only was the fireworks thing sold out as expected, all of the rides on the ship were sold out for the entire day.

No One Piece pirate ship.


Because I missed a bus, it altered the course of everything and no pirate ship. Grrrrr. I don't even know if I would take out the Penguin Aquarium for it if I knew that would happen. Penguins! Hmm. Also, I don't know when they sold out either. Even if I went straight there, they might have sold out before I got there, and then I would have had no pirate ship or penguins. I still don't know how to feel about this.

So, I took about a million pictures from 100 feet away from said ship, and then went into the One Piece shop instead. (I also found a normal ticket for the fireworks too) There was also a 3D show, which if I had thought about it, I would have realized it would be the same one I saw in Hirakata, but I didn't realize that until I was in the theater. Oh well! Still awesome.

So after giving the store a once over, I went to the restaurant portion and ate adorable (and very filling and yummy) food.

After this, I figured I should at least walk around the part I paid good money for. There had to be something fun and interesting in there! Lo and behold, I ran into the strange person with the little Smirnoff bar set up from earlier. It was a street show, and he called himself a "career bartender" and said something about America? I don't know, it was fun to watch and he was a good juggler.

One thing was odd though. As a part of his show, he kept asking people to cheer to make him look better so he could keep performing there is my contexted guess, which was good fun, but at the end he asked for tips! This makes me wonder if he was being serious. Also. You don't ask for tips in Japan. Service workers don't even get tips! I was shocked.

After this, I started to quest to find the roses! It was a rose festival right? Unfortunately, the pictures were misleading, and most of the roses were gone or dying. Boo. However, one of the spots did have a nice set of roses, just not as many as in the pictures. It was very pretty.

Next, because the place is named Huis Ten Bosch after the little palace Huis Ten Bosh on the far end of the "free zone" of the park, I walked over there to investigate. Of course, to go inside the gates of the palace it cost more money, and I was very moneyed out at this point, so I just took a couple pictures through the gates, haha.

Then I bought an ice cream and started exploring around the stores....and accidentally found another One Piece store, which happily had the same stuff in it, good. I also ran into a European Character Store, which had some nice omiyage (souvenirs) in it :)

Next, there was a World Bazaar filled with many delicious looking foods (no Kit Kats of course) and across from it was some connected shops contained foods from different parts of the world. In here I found foccacio bread and proscutto. It looked legitimately from Italy. I wanted it all! Luckily I was distracted (how was I supposed to get bread home haha) by seeing CRISPY M&Ms, which are not made anymore in the United States.

They were delicious.

So here's where some of the crazy begins. I leave the stores, turn a corner, and surprise! There's a little parade. It was...surprising, haha, and reminded me of the parades we put on in college for Homecoming. Yeah. So it was nearing the time we could get seats for fireworks (I mean we could sit anywhere, but I paid for a ticket so I could sit in the nice seats and not fight people) and I had a little bit of time to kill, so in one tent there was supposed to be the park's spring show. However, it started at 730, and since fireworks started at 8, I didn't want to stay and watch. Instead, I watched the warm-up act perform for a while (he was a good singer) and then headed towards fireworks! I sat myself down in a seat right in front of the Sunny and took pictures until it was time for the fireworks to begin.

....I am sure there was a very good reason for the bagpipes in the beginning. It probably had something to do with the competitor. Certain days during Golden Week different competitors put on fireworks performances, and somehow one is decided and they win something, which was explained in Japanese so I don't know. But yes. Bagpipes. Good reason I'm sure.

I greatly enjoyed the fireworks. A. Because they were in a fireworks competition called the World Cup, come now. There were fireworks that were hearts, and when they made the sound they changed into other hearts! And B. The music. I was one of maybe 5 gaijin in the crazy crowd, and I tried really hard not to burst into laughter at the music.

It started with Hey Mickey (You're so Fine) first of all. After that was Locomotion! Next? After All That We've Been Through by Chicago.


After that? One More Chance by the Jackson 5! Rounded off with You Raise Me Up (but not Josh Groban)

So that was definitely shocking, an 'Oh Japan' moment. At this time, it was 9 o clock, which I heard from multiple sources that closing time for the park was 9 o clock.

So why were all the bars saying drinks were half price and attractions still trying to get people to come in? I don't even know. First, I passed the castle-looking thing, and there was a projection on it to change its appearance, which was cool, so it looked like it had a hole in it which was counting down from 10.

What happened at 0? The castle burst into psychedelic technicolor and started playing groovy music with girls dancing. I kid you not. Then it exploded, was set on fire, and had a dragon before lighting up for the evening. Even though the park was "closing."

At this point, Japan was overwhelming me with craziness. So of course I walk a bit farther, and I find the Haunted area (haunted walk through museums and stuff) houses all lit up and blinking to music, just like some houses do at Christmas! What kind of songs? Scary ones? Nah. Go Johnny Go, Kokomo, Born to Be Wild, New York New York, Take My Breath Away, and Jeremiah was a Bullfrog just to name the few I heard before walking away in further astonishment.

But there's more! I was almost at the exit, when I saw lights (surprise) in the distance. I couldn't not check it out, and it turns out the shopping area's interior was lit up with a zillion lights on the ceiling.

...Why was it not closed!

Furthermore, I passed the rose garden, also lit up. I was expecting a show by the time I got to the train station. Hoo.

By the way, once I got off the train at Nagasaki Station (street cars were closed) I promptly started walking the wrong direction. Slick.

Then, I failed at sleep until I had to wake up at 5:30 to walk to the bus terminal to get to Nagasaki Airport for my teeny plane to Kansai, yay! Guess what I found in the airport?

KIT KATS! YAY! I was so happy. It was also funny that security just didn't care. I watched a couple people to figure out what's up, and you didn't need to put your shoes in a bin, or take out liquids, or your computer, or anything, just empty your pockets. I did get wanded though. Was it because I was a gaijin? More like I left my belt, necklace, watch, and ring on. I was tired. No problem.

After some confusion with seats (some silly people were sitting in my seat, I didn't tell them until the other people sitting there arrived haha) I dozed happily until I got home and train rode my way back.

Pretty good trip if I do say so myself ;p I wasn't happy coming home to rain and looking like an idiot walking home in shorts, but whatever. I also got a blister trying to shut my backpack the night before; I really should have brought a smaller towel because it filled almost the whole bag! I ended up tying one of my shirts to the top like a flag because it wouldn't fit!

I will put up Huis Ten Bosch pictures later; they are slow going because there are 350!


P.S. Yesterday, Riyo and I went to Sweets Paradise, an all you can eat dessert place. Oh yes. 

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