Food Japan Popular

What to Eat at Universal Studios Japan

So you’ve waited for hours in long queue, taken all that heart-stopping rides, played tag it with the street zombies, screamed your lungs out inside the horror maze, and now you are famished. So what do you eat amidst the sea of food options at Universal Studios Japan? Check out the following list:

Platter for Four at Three Broomsticks

Ever wonder what the wizards eat? Then head on to Three Broomsticks, a themed restaurant inspired by the pub of the same name from the Harry Potter movie. This can be found inside the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

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Apparently, wizards feast on corn on the cob, pork ribs, rotisserie smoked chicken, squash soup, and side vegetables. The Platter for Four (Jpy 7,600 – Usd 72.39 – Php 3,506.97) feast is served on a metal tray and it is big enough to be shared by 4 or 5 people.

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Notice how many food there is on this platter? Yes, if all the grease from the meat doesn’t kill you, the price probably will. 

For drinks they don’t just offer regular water, they serve Gilly water. But before you get too excited, nope this one doesn’t have a love potion; it’s just a regular bottled water with a Gilly water label.

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Butterbeer

Butterbeer  (Jpy 600 – Usd 5.71 – Php 276.62), that non-alcoholic foamy drink is so good, people inside the Wizarding World of Harry Potter are willing to wait in long queues just to get it.

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I was under an impression it’d taste like root beer so I wasn’t betting on it until I took a sip and got the biggest surprise. It tasted like caramel and it’s carbonated so it has that nice fizz to it.

Turkey leg

I saw a child eating something, which I mistook for ice cream. When I got a closer look I was shocked to find the kid was eating a chicken leg. But then again it’s too big, it couldn’t be chicken. Turns out it’s turkey leg and you can buy it from a food cart called BBQ Garlic Turkey Leg for 950 Yen (Usd 9.05 – Php 438.43).

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This turkey leg is the ultimate (literally and figuratively) snack and it’s a favorite among USJ goers. Personally, I couldn’t finish an entire leg because of its size but I had fun munching on it for as long as I could.

Click here to get $24 off your first airbnb booking

Matcha churros

I never thought I’d see the day when I would love food with matcha. Looks like I had to go to Japan to change mind. And one of the things that converted me is the matcha churros that we had. The churros is of chocolate flavor, long and covered in matcha powder and sugar. It doesn’t come with a chocolate dip but it was delicious even without it.

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Halloween Special at Finnegan’s Bar and Grille

Come dinner time we convened at the Finnegan’s Bar and Grille where we were treated to food specially made just for the Halloween.

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Here’s the list of what we had:

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pumpkin-shepherds-pie
halloween-rice-croquette-upumpkin-cheeseu
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  • Halloween Horror Night – Mix Berry (No Alcohol ) (Jpy 520 – Usd 4.95 – Php 240.09)
  • Halloween carnival Highball – Brad Orange (Jpy 650 – Usd 6.18 – Php 396.76)
  • Halloween Rice Croquette – Pumpkin & Cheese (Jpy 860 – Usd 8.18 – Php 396.76)
  • Roast Beef & Pumpkin Salad (Jpy 1,290 – Usd 12.27 – Php 595.14)
  • Pumpkin Shepherd’s Pie (Jpy 820 – Usd 7.80 – Php 378.33)

Out of all these, my favorite, and I think everyone in our group would agree, is the Halloween Rice Croquette. The sale period for all Halloween special food is until 6th of November.


USJ Fast Facts

Universal Studios Japan or USJ as known by the locals, was established in 2001. It occupies over 108 acres of area in Sakurajima, Konohana Ward in the Osaka Prefecture of Japan. Its many attractions and a monthly visitor of over 600,000 makes it impossible to see it all in a day.

Regular ticket goes for Usd 71 (Php 3,422.17). But if you want a skip-the-line access, get the Express Pass; rate starts at Usd 63 (Php 3,036.57). For regular pass, book your ticket here. For express pass, book your ticket here.


USJ’s Halloween special started on September 9 and ends on November 6, 2016. Experience this fun Halloween celebration by booking a flight to Osaka via Cebu Pacific, the largest airline in the Philippines. Cebu Pacific flies between Manila and Osaka five times weekly, with lowest year-round fares starting from PHP6,399. Cebu Pacific also flies from Manila to Tokyo (Narita), Nagoya and Fukuoka, as well as from Cebu to Tokyo (Narita). Book its trademark lowest fares now through CEBsakaflights or (+632)7020888, or follow its Facebook or Twitter pages for the latest seat sales.

Disclaimer: This Osaka fam trip was courtesy of Cebu Pacific. Some of the photos were provided by USJ. Review and opinions are my own.

Itinerary Philippines Travel

Your Guide to Exploring the Hundred Islands in Pangasinan

The Hundred Islands, that part of the Philippine archipelago that shares the same prominent spot on textbooks alongside Mayon Volcano and Banaue Rice Terraces, can be found in Alaminos, Pangasinan. The name is a nod to over 124 islands dispersed over the Lingayen Gulf, covering a total area of 16.76 square kilometers. Sometime in June this year, I took the grueling 6-hour trip with 2 others to discover this well-known national park that is the pride of the Pangasinense. So here’s the itinerary guide to the Hundred Islands including information on getting to the area, finding a place to stay in Alaminos City, as well as the cost and expenses. Also, I will give you a quick glimpse of some of the islands that you might see during the island-hopping tour.

How to Get There

If you are not bringing your own car, get ready to experience the hassle of constant traveling. If we weren’t riding a bus, we were on a jeep, then we’d transfer to a tricycle. Never in my life have I experienced so much traveling on the road than on this trip.

From Manila there are two ways you can get to Alaminos.

Pasay > Dagupan > Alaminos

  1. From Pasay take the Five-Star bus that goes to Dagupan; fare is PHP 371 (USD 7.70).
  2. From Dagupan, take another bus that goes to Alaminos, fare is PHP 68 (USD 1.41).
  3. Take a tricycle to Lucap Wharf for PHP 15 (USD 0.31) per head.

Cubao > Alaminos

From Cubao, Five-Star’s rate is PHP 361 (USD 7.49) then follow steps 2-3 written above.

All in all, travel time takes 5 to 6 hours, with consideration to the traffic. Victory Liner also offers trips to Dagupan. Click here to see the fare matrix.

Where to Stay?

We didn’t have to rent an accommodation because one of my companions is from Pangasinan;  therefore, we stayed in the house of her family. But there are a number of accommodation in Alaminos and Lingayen to choose from, hotels, inns, and guesthouse, some even offer breakfast. If you are on a budget, I’m happy to report that you can find accommodation for as low as PHP 144 (USD 3).

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My friend’s house in Pangasinan

You may choose to stay in Dagupan, it’s only an hour away from Alaminos. But for this post let us focus on finding a place to stay in Alaminos. Depending on your budget, here are some accommodation to choose from:

Nautilus Islands’ View Lodge
Brgy. Lucap, Alaminos City
+63 (75) 551-4838

Islandia Hotel
Marcos Ave., Brgy. Palamis, Alaminos City
+63 (75) 205-0024
Rate: Starts at PHP 18,000 (USD 37.16)

Island Tropic Hotel
Boulevard St., Brgy. Lucap, Alaminos City
+63 (75) 551-4913
Rate: Starts at PHP 1,600 (USD 33.03)

Treasure Isle Guest House
+63 917-973-5981
Rate: Starts at PHP 200 (USD 4.13)

But if you are feeling adventurous, why not bring a tent and set up camp on one of the islands? You can do this specifically on the Governor’s Island, Quezon Island, and Scout Island. Camping rate is PHP 200 (USD 4.15). If you want to spend the night over on an island but you don’t want to camp, you can stay at the Big Brothers lodge on the Governor’s Island, rate is PHP 10,000 per night (USD 206.42).

How’s the Weather?

Now that you’re in Pangasinan, what should you expect when it comes to the weather? Pangasinan has an average monthly temperature of 27.91ºC. It is dry from November to April and wet from May to October. Just like in most parts of the Philippines, maximum rainfall can be expected in August. In our case, we went in June and experienced the province in arid conditions. It was so hot and dry that it hurts the skin. So be sure to bring sunscreen, shades, and maybe a hat.

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This is not even a matter of vanity (I know some of you are afraid to grow a shade darker or two) but a matter of health. You want to enjoy the province and the island hopping, but you shouldn’t get sunburned in the process.

How much is the Island-hopping Tours?

When you reach Lucap Wharf, go straight to the Tourism Office. This is where you can arrange the boat tours to the islands. The boat rental is steep, so unless you have lots of money to spare, I recommend you go with a group. You may opt to share a boat with other tourists just like what we did. There were 4 of us in our group then we met 4 other tourists and agreed to share one medium-sized boat with them. 

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For a one-day tour, that’s PHP 1,800 (USD 37.36) or PHP 225 (USD 4.67) per head. See the snippet below for the complete list of rates.

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And that’s not the only thing you have to pay. There’s also the environmental fee PHP 30 (USD 0.62) and entrance fee PHP 40 (USD 0.83) for day tour and PHP 80 (USD 1.66) for overnight rate. 

Estimated budget for the entire trip is around 2,000 to 3,000 pesos (USD 41.46 – 62.19) including accommodation and food.  


What are the Islands to See?

There are 124 islands (123 when it’s high-tide) so do not expect to see them all in a day. Some of them are so small (more like giant rocks protruding from the water) you wouldn’t mistake them for an island. I remember joking that these “rocks” are included in the hundred islands count, which made someone from our boat snicker. Turns out it wasn’t a joke, those giant rocks are in fact islets according to our boatman.

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It’s interesting to note that some of the islands are named after the former presidents of the Philippines; Romulo Island, Marcos Island, Macapagal Island, and Quezon Island. Some islands were also named based on how they are shaped. So what islands are you most likely to see and visit? Check the following list:

Cathedral Island

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Not all islands are accessible to the public and can only be appreciated from afar. One such island is Cathedral Island. It has a huge triangle-shaped crack right in the middle. This hollow space has a grotto inside where you can find a figure of the Virgin Mary.

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I wanted us to have a closer look, I think our boat could fit inside the cave but according to the boatman, it is forbidden to enter it. Not sure if he was telling the truth because I’d seen some photos of people going inside the cave on the Internet.

Crocodile Island and Turtle Island

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Some islands were named based on how they appear like the Crocodile Island and the Turtle Islands, which from afar looked like the reptiles they were named after.

Bat Island

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As the name implies, is home to millions of fruit bats. The bats, which were unusually big, can be seen hanging from the rocks and trees. This is one of those islands where people are not allowed to dock. No problem with me because as much as I was fascinated looking at the bats, I was also a little bit crept out at the sight of them.

Quezon Island

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People usually stop by Quezon Island for lunch because it has a restaurant, cottages, and picnic tables. Food here is pricey so it’s recommended to bring your own meal and utensils. Quezon Island is crowded so I do not recommend staying here for long if you are not too keen on dealing with so many people. But this island has a zip line so if you are looking to do some interesting activity, you might want to give it a try.

Governor’s Island and Virgin Island

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I have never watched Pinoy Big Brothers (PBB), but based on my research, the Governor’s Island became well-known because of the said TV show. The yellow house used by the housemates remains and is turned into a lodge that people can rent for PHP10,000 a night (USD 207.31).

Governor’s has a view deck that offers a spectacular view of the other islands. It requires going up the hill, which in itself was not taxing, but the heat of the midday sun sure made it challenging. Just push through with it because this is where you can find a perfect spot for those Instagram-worthy pictures.

Another unique feature of this island is the floating bridge that connects to the Virgin Island. We did cross the bridge but upon reaching the other side, I realized that it wasn’t even half of the trek to get to the Virgin Island.

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The sun was beating on us, quickly depleting my energy let alone my patience, so I decided to just go back.

Cuenco Tunnel

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Another island made famous by a TV show (Marina) is Cuenco Tunnel also known as Dugong Island. You enter a cave that opens to an area perched on stilts. From the looks of it, it seems to have a restaurant, or maybe it used to have one, I’m not too sure.

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When we saw this place, we felt sorry that we didn’t eat our lunch there. It had a few people, the view of the sea is beautiful, and the wind was cool. It would have been a perfect place to go on a picnic.

Old Scout Island

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We were supposed to spend the rest of our free time on Old Scout Island, but the bright skies turned to gray and we didn’t want to risk sailing under the pouring rain, not especially on a boat as small as ours. Our tour began at around 10:00 in the morning and officially ended at around 4:00 p.m. By the way, we didn’t go to Alaminos on the same day that we traveled to Pangasinan. Our tour was scheduled the next day.


Final Thoughts

The Hundred Islands reminded me of the islands and the surrounding islets in Coron, Palawan. If you haven’t been to both, I recommend that you begin with the Hundred Islands. Having been to Coron, where the islands and the sea are a thing of sweet dreams, I was not as amazed by the view of the Hundred Islands. But this opinion is of my own and may not necessarily reflect those who have also been to these two provinces. [Travel Guide to Coron, Palawan].

But I am not going to deny that Hundred Islands hold a certain charm. There is something fascinating about seeing a place in the flesh that was once upon a time was just an image on a book.


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You may download the PDF version of this guide here.


What about you? Have you been to the Hundred Islands? Which island is your favorite?

Japan Travel

Step into a Nightmare – Universal Studios Japan Halloween Horror Nights

You know that feeling when you have been talking with someone for quite some time and already you’ve mapped out your entire life together, and then now finally, you guys are going on a date for the first time? That marriage of inexplicable excitement and utter sense of dread because what if the person doesn’t think you’re cute in person? That’s the kind of feeling that I had when I found out we would be entering two horror mazes at the Universal Studios Japan. And that was just the tip of the iceberg. Today I will walk you through some of the best scary attractions that they have. Are you ready to step into a nightmare?

The Halloween Horror Nights have three sections: Horror Maze, The Curse Attraction, and Horror Area. These are also ranked based on horror levels, 1 being the least scary and 10 as the most horrifying.

Horror Maze

Slammed cabinets, ghostly apparitions, flickering lights, demonic laughter; if you are into these scenes, check out the Horror Maze of USJ. The horror maze or horror house is that Halloween gimmick that aims to replicate that creepy feeling one gets when entering a haunted house. (Note: Cameras are not allowed inside the horror maze.)

The Exorcist

I have a vague recollection of watching The Exorcist, including sleeping halfway through it. For a horror flick, it had too many dialogues and dragging scenes, which would be my excuse for snoozing. But this movie is a cult classic and I won’t deny how creepy Linda Blair looked when her character named, Regan, was being possessed by a demon.

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You can enter the horror house in a group. The only thing that kept our group together is a single rope that we had to hold on to during the entire walk. The house has a series of narrow hallways that open to different rooms. At least 80% of the house is covered in darkness. If you are too scared I suggest you take the middle spot, sandwich yourself in between your friends. The bravest of you can take the head part of the rope. In my case, the surprise factor was mitigated by the fact that I was almost at the tail of the rope. Whenever a door suddenly opens to reveal a Regan-looking character or props, the people at the front are the first ones to deal with the blow, then I’d found myself looking over wondering what got them so scared haha…

My favorite part was the recreation of the infamous spider-walk scene (refer to the photo above). Not sure how they did it, but it was mind-blowing. My least favorite part is when an actor dressed as Regan followed us down the hall. It was creepy to look back and see that she was still in pursuit.

The Exorcist is Level 4 in the horror meter.

Tatari: Curse of the Living Doll

I thought it was also patterned from a movie, but Tatari, the Japanese horror house was specially made for USJ’s Halloween this year. In Japan, there is a festival called, Hinamatsuri, also known as Doll’s Day or Girls’ Day. There is a superstition belief in Japan that pertains to dolls having souls and they have the power to influence the lives of people. So the Japanese do not just throw away their dolls, they leave them in shrines during the festival. One of the shrines that take these dolls is the Awashima jinja in Wakama. I mention this because the dolls used in the Tatari horror maze were loaned by Awashima.

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I thought it was dark at The Exorcist until we entered Tatari. Again, we held onto a rope as we walked through the house. It was so dark I half-feared someone would just grab me from the darkness, if that happened I’m not sure what I would have done (though kicking the source of horror came to mind). The dolls were indeed creepy and if you have an imagination as active as mine, you would definitely feel like they were watching you.

There was a scene where a crazed woman approached us, speaking in fast Nihongo. If it weren’t for our guide who translated to us, this part wouldn’t make sense at all. Apparently, the woman was giving us a warning of the horror that lies ahead. Now that I mentioned it, the attractions at USJ are all in Japanese, notwithstanding the fact they have foreign visitors.

My favorite part was entering a room where we saw a shadow of a samurai-wielding figure through the room divider (Shōji). The anticipation on what this shadow would do gave us thrill like no other. It was just like on movies where the character hopelessly awaits his fate in complete terror.

The Tatari tour is a lot shorter than The Exorcist, nevertheless, the creepy factor was more intense than the latter.

Tatari is level 5 in the horror meter.

Other Horror Mazes

If it were up to me, I would have entered all of the horror mazes, but we didn’t have all the time in the world so we could only fit two in our itinerary. The other horror mazes to choose from are Trauma 2: The Experimental Hospital Ward of Horror (Horror Level 10); A Nightmare on Elm Street the Maze 2 (Horror Level 4); and Chucky’s Horror Factory 3 (Horror Level 4).

The Curse Attraction

The Curse Attraction was not included in our itinerary so I have little idea on what you could expect from this. There are 2 attractions here, Sadako (Horror Level 1) and Gakkō no Kaidan (Horror Level 2), both were inspired by Japanese horror films. In the Terminator 2 3D attraction, for example, the eerie Sadako video as shown in the movie, The Ring, suddenly comes on the screen.

Horror Area

The Horror Area is an interactive horror experience where you are chased by ghosts and zombies.

J-Horror Area

The J-Horror area can be found after a short walk under the torii gates. It opens to a clearing, barely lit and eerie. Terror is brought upon by the Japanese ghosts garbed in white masks and traditional clothing, who either remain on their designated spots and jump to the passersby or walk around aimlessly.

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Street Zombies

The Walking Dead, Resident Evil, World War Z, Zombieland, name it, I’ve seen it. Given this weird fascination to the undead, it follows that I’d enjoy seeing the zombies prowling on the street, snarling and chasing people, sometimes stopping to do a dance intermission to the tune of Thriller. There are chainsaw-wielding zombies, giant zombie, zombies with dolls, zombies eating the insides of his victim, among others. The zombies were so into characters, people had fun screaming and running away from them.

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It had been a long day, my feet were killing me, and my energy was at the all-time low when it was time for us to go home. I walked listlessly, my eyes set on the destination, face wearing zero expression. Maybe the zombies noticed my exhaustion because for some reason they didn’t bother me even when I walked past them.

Find out about the Heart-Stopping Rides at Universal Studios Japan here

All the excitements of the day have taken a toll, but it’s a good thing because USJ delivered one of the best Halloween spectacles I have ever experienced in my life. You too have a chance to experience this. USJ’s Halloween extravaganza runs until November 6.

USJ Fast Facts

Universal Studios Japan or USJ as known by the locals, was established in 2001. It occupies over 108 acres of area in Sakurajima, Konohana Ward in the Osaka Prefecture of Japan. Its many attractions and a monthly visitor of over 600,000 makes it impossible to see it all in a day.

Regular ticket goes for USD 71 (PHP 3422.17). But if you want a skip-the-line access, get the Express Pass; rate starts at USD 63 (PHP 3036.57).   


USJ’s Halloween special started on September 9 and ends on November 6, 2016. Experience this fun Halloween celebration by booking a flight to Osaka via Cebu Pacific, the largest airline in the Philippines. Cebu Pacific flies between Manila and Osaka five times weekly, with lowest year-round fares starting from PHP6,399. Cebu Pacific also flies from Manila to Tokyo (Narita), Nagoya and Fukuoka, as well as from Cebu to Tokyo (Narita). Book its trademark lowest fares now through CEBsakaflights or (+632)7020888, or follow its Facebook or Twitter pages for the latest seat sales.

Disclaimer: This Osaka fam trip was courtesy of Cebu Pacific. Some of the photos were provided by USJ. Review and opinions are my own.

Japan Travel

You Must Try These 3 Heart-Stopping Rides at Universal Studios Japan

When I was young, amusement park is the seasonal peryahan that suddenly sprouts somewhere in our neighborhood. Thrill ride is the soul-ripping Ferris wheel; worse than a roller coaster for its continuous cycle of dropsies. Souvenir is a teddy bear, if you were ever successful popping balloons with a dart, or shooting rings on empty soda bottles. Gamble is throwing coins on a board emblazoned with numbers, hoping it would stay within the square to win. Cheap, temporary, colorful and unglamorous; that’s how the Filipino carnival is. But to me and the people of my generation, it instigated one of our earliest memories of fascination and wonder, easily experienced in youth and rarely felt in adulthood. So rare I could no longer remember the last time I’d been blown away, until I stepped foot at Universal Studios Japan. A place so magical I bade adulthood adieu; at least for one whole day.  

Because our trip to USJ is so epic, I decided to write this in 3 parts. Let us begin with the 3 attractions that will surely make your heart stop.

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey

I liked Harry Potter, but not enough to turn me into a fanatic. Blasphemy! is what a true-blue HP fan would say. And before I get rebuked for this, a little clarification: I’ve seen all Harry Potter films, I loved them all. But there are definitely better HP fans than me. There are Potterheads who have watched and re-watched HP movies, read and re-read the entire book series, knew every line by heart, and maybe, gathered every HP collectibles they could find. I loved Harry Potter, I was just too lazy to pursue an obsession.

Given this status, you’d think I’d be just cool about going to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter; I wasn’t. If it weren’t for my resting bitch face, my companions would have been scandalized by the Marjorie that was screaming and jumping inside her head for all the excitement she could barely contain upon stepping foot on this part of USJ. I think my excitement was on a rabid level, couldn’t count the times I said “wow,” couldn’t keep up with our guide because I wanted to stop at every corner (I even lost my companions for like 5 minutes), and couldn’t stop myself from documenting everything on my phone.

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I don’t think my words would suffice to give justice to the experience, but let me try. The first thing that we saw was the Stone Circle or the Sundial Garden. Like I said, I am not a fanatic, so I failed to remember what these Stonehenge-ish rocks were for.

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Past the stone circle is the long path inside the forest where somewhere along the way we saw people taking turns for a photo-op with a blue car. Again, I didn’t remember what this car is, and when I asked, somebody from my group said, “Herbie.” And I was there thinking, “Herbie is in Harry Potter?” It was only when I went home and googled things that I remembered what these installations are. The Stone Circle can be found inside the grounds of Hogwarts, while the car is the Ford Anglia, driven by the Weasley brothers to rescue Harry from the house of the Dursleys.

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Through the forests, the iconic theme music of Harry Potter can be heard. That music helped build up the excitement. I tell you, it made me feel like I was one of the would-be wizards being summoned to Hogwarts.

We reached the end of the trail, to the imposing view of the Hogsmeade Gate; this is it, we entered the magical world of Harry Potter. The path is lined by shops, up ahead is the view of the Hogwarts castle, on the right, close to the entrance is the Hogwarts Express. It was a sensory explosion of Rowling’s fictional world that could impress anyone, Harry Potter fans or not.   

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For the first taste of wizardry, stop by the Hogwarts Express and learn how to open the trunks with a magic wand and a little bit of cistem aperio. 

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There are so many things to do at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter; you can eat at The Broomsticks, try the butterbeer drink that everyone was lining up for, take the two-minute Flight of the Hippogriff ride, watch street entertainment that is the reenactment of some Harry Potter scenes by some USJ actors, and shop for sweets, toys, wizard-wear, stamps and stationery, and magical supplies. 

Booking.com
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But the real highlight of this Wizarding World, and this I suggest you do before anything else because the queue can be crazy long, is to take the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, a state-of-the-art 4K technology ride. The ride is inside the Hogwarts Castle where you can see the moving portraits, the Sorting Hat, and Dumbledore’s office. Lucky us, we had the media pass so we didn’t have to fall in long lines in any of the USJ attractions including this.

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The ride begins on a train platform. Unbeknownst to my companions, I was paralyzed with fear, but it was more out of anticipation and not knowing exactly what the ride is going to be. We were each given a pair of 3D glasses. Then the train started moving and before we knew it, we were already getting tossed in dramatic aerobatic inside this big dark room. It’s a reenactment of Quidditch, a competitive sport played up in the air with the use of flying broomsticks.

It felt so real, the sudden drops had me gripping on my seat. For the first few seconds it was scary, but once I’ve settled myself into the ride, I began to genuinely enjoy it. Soon, I was screaming in delight like everyone else, whooping and swooshing in the air. I was so happy, I overused the wows and the awesomes. So whatever you do, thou shall never miss this ride when you visit USJ.  

The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man

The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man is another simulation ride that is popular to the park visitors. It is powered by a series of special effects, such as fogs, strobes, water, wild turns, and rapid falls. We rode a car that represents the Scoop or that vehicle of the Daily Bugle. Again, we wore 3D glasses and this time, we followed Spiderman as he fought the members of the Sinister Syndicate, such as Scream, the Hobgoblin, Electro, Hydro-Man, and Doctor Octopus.

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This ride felt more realistic to me than Harry Potter. When the Spidey villains threw us something, I moved to dodge their blows despite knowing it’s just a 3D simulation. Also, when Doctor Octopus came on, he literally sprays us with water.

Jurassic Park The Flying Dinosaur

To the brave, there is the Jurassic Park The Flying Dinosaur, the biggest roller-coaster in the park. I didn’t go (yes, I chickened out!), but some of the bloggers went for it and they loved it. This roller-coaster has 360 turns in the air, sharp rises, and sudden drops. It runs at great speeds that will surely satisfy the adventurer in you.

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USJ Fast Facts

Universal Studios Japan or USJ as known by the locals, was established in 2001. It occupies over 108 acres of area in Sakurajima, Konohana Ward in the Osaka Prefecture of Japan. USJ’s monthly visitors is over 600, 000. There are also many attractions it’s impossible to see it all in a day.

Regular ticket goes for USD 71 (PHP 3422.17). But if you want a skip-the-line access, get the Express Pass; rate starts at USD 63 (PHP 3036.57).   


USJ’s Halloween special started on September 9 and ends on November 6, 2016. You still have one month to enjoy this Halloween treat. So book a flight now to Osaka via Cebu Pacific, the largest airline in the Philippines. Cebu Pacific flies between Manila and Osaka five times weekly, with lowest year-round fares starting from PHP 6,399. Cebu Pacific also flies from Manila to Tokyo (Narita), Nagoya and Fukuoka, as well as from Cebu to Tokyo (Narita). Book its trademark lowest fares now through CEBsakaflights or (+632)7020888, or follow its Facebook or Twitter pages for the latest seat sales.

Disclaimer: This Osaka fam trip was courtesy of Cebu Pacific. Photos were provided by USJ. Review and opinions are my own.


Japan Travel

Not Permitted to go to Indonesia – No Worries, I’m Going to Japan!

Beautiful but expensive are two words that could kill a dream. The wanting of a copious bank account, constantly depleted by responsibilities, lattes, fatty food, and other things born out of a whim, did not make me hopeful that I would ever get to Japan, at least not anytime soon. But if there is one thing I know for certain, it’s that life is full of surprises. And surprise of epic proportion is what I received wrapped in a metaphorical bow of awesomeness. It is so awesome I moved on with ease over a lost opportunity to fly to Indonesia. Last September, I found myself taking that 4-hour flight with 12 others to Osaka, Japan.

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Cebu Pacific (CEB), the largest carrier in the Philippine air transportation industry flew me and 9 other bloggers in an 8PM flight to Osaka. CEB offers low-cost services to 36 Philippine and 30 international destinations over Asia, Australia, the Middle East, and the USA.

On how I scored this 4-day sponsored trip, I have many people to thank, the first would be Trisha Velarmino, the genius behind P.S. I’m On My Way. Trisha, that magnificent human being who traveled for years in her lonesome in South America, went home to the Philippines for a quick vacation. I met her in that blogger’s trip in Baguio where we were bunked in the same room and had a chance to get to know each other. Trisha is creating a rainbow of opportunities for some writers and I and it’s through this that I was able to visit Japan. About this “awesome project,” I’m sparing you the details for now so as not to ruin this wonderful surprise.

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How to Get Japan Visa

I had no trouble applying for a Japan visa because the ever-reliable and remarkable Media Relations Supervisor of Strategic Works, Inc., Kezia Romblon, took care of it. But I still took the time to google the knowledge to share with you.

  1. Go to Japan Embassy’s website. Download and fill out the Visa Application form.
  2. Obtain required documents, such as: 
    • Passport
    • 1 copy of ID photo, 4.5cm x 4.5cm with white background
    • Birth certificate (NSO issued, original copy)
    • Bank balance certificate (get this from the branch where you opened your bank account)
    • Income Tax Return (Form 2316 or 1701, original copy)
    • A copy of your itinerary and hotel booking
  3. Go to accredited travel agencies to work on your application because the Japan embassy no longer accepts direct applications.
  4. Visa fee depends on which travel agency will work on your visa but expect to shell out somewhere around 800 to 1,200 pesos (USD 16.56 – 24.84).
  5. And the most important requirement of them all — Hope for the best!

How to Get There

There are a few airlines that fly to Osaka, Japan, but of course, I recommend, CEB. Cebu Pacific, the largest airline in the Philippines, flies between Manila and Osaka five times weekly, with lowest year-round fares starting from PHP 6,399 (USD 132.44). Cebu Pacific also flies from Manila to Tokyo (Narita), Nagoya and Fukuoka, as well as from Cebu to Tokyo (Narita). Book its trademark lowest fares now through http://bit.ly/CEBOsakaflights or (+632)7020888, or follow its Facebook or Twitter pages for the latest seat sales.

Kansai International Airport

We touched down Osaka around 11 in the evening after a 4-hour trip in turbulence that could test the faith of the most devout and induce belief to a skeptic. It was my first time to sit on the front row, but I was placed in the middle seat. With no view of the clouds to offer comfort and no calming music to meditate on (’cause I checked in my luggage and it slipped my mind to take out my earphones), I dealt with my flying anxiety by trying my darnedest to sleep. I couldn’t say in affirmative whether I succeeded; the feel of my sweaty palms is still vivid in my head, but hey, I survived! 

[Read: 7 Tips to Conquer Fear of Flying]

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Kansai International Airport or KIX is the gateway to the Kansai Region, where you can find the major cities, Kyoto, Kobe, and Osaka. KIX is built on an artificial island in Osaka Bay. Because it’s on a manmade island, a 3-kilometer bridge was created to connect it to the mainland via the town of Rinku. Several railways connect to KIX, and this alone fascinates me. No leaving the airport just to ride a train, hurrah! From there, it was an hour journey to Nakanoshima via JR Kansai.

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Rihga Royal Hotel

By taxi, we were taken to our accommodation, Rihga Royal Hotel. Rihga is a luxurious 80-year old hotel in Nakanoshima, Osaka. Kara (Travel Up) and I stayed in a twin room in the West Wing.

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Our stay included free breakfast; a choice between their Japanese resto and their buffet restaurant. What I liked most at Rihga Royal Hotel is the bathroom. It’s not as fancy as the other hotels, but I love the automated toilet.

That night, after checking in, we went out for ramen. The ramen is not just good, it’s gold and it deserves a post of its own (watch out for that). This is just a prelude of a great adventure. Coming up, I’m going to take you to Universal Studios Japan.  

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