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Japan 2023: Day 8

While attending the sumo tournament in Fukuoka was our number one reason for visiting Japan, a close second was Super Nintendo World at Universal Studios Japan (USJ). We bought tickets the second the became available, months in advance, to ensure we'd be able to attend during our brief stay in Osaka.

We woke up at 7am, had some breakfast, and by 8am were on the Sakurajima Line headed to Universal City Station. We arrived at the park a little after 8:30am and it was already completely packed. I have never seen this many people jammed into such a small space in my entire life. It was like being at a New Year's celebration in Toronto but this is a Friday morning in Osaka.

We were able to scan our tickets and officially enter the park before 9am. This was when we had the dreadful realization that our tickets did not give us access to Super Nintendo World. We had to purchase the Express Pass (an extra $120 each) to guarantee access. Otherwise you have to use the Universal Studios Japan app to request a time window for which you can enter. Keep in mind that USJ doesn't officially open until 9am, but when we attempted to request a time window the app told us that every slot had already been given away. To say we were heartbroken would be an understatement. The only reason we stopped in Osaka was for Super Nintendo World. Otherwise we would have chosen to spend more time in Fukuoka and Tokyo, or perhaps even visit Hiroshima.

So now it is just after 9am on a Friday and we cannot do the one thing we came to USJ for. There was a brief flash of hope when the app told us you could enter into a lottery to win entrance to Super Nintendo Land if someone dropped out. We entered but we were told at 10:20am that we had lost and there was now absolutely no hope of visiting Super Nintendo Land. We tried to find other ways to enjoy ourselves but USJ is easily the worst theme park I have ever visited. Every single attraction had a line that was over 120 minutes and somehow the Spider-Man ride was over 190 minutes. Even just trying to sightsee was almost impossible because of how packed the park was. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter was literally shoulder-to-shoulder like when you're exiting an arena at the end of an event. Everyone was shuffling slowly with absolutely no way to see anything other than the head of the person beside them. I have no idea how anyone was enjoying themselves. We had visited The Wizarding World at Universal Studios Hollywood and I am not joking when I say there was probably 10% of the amount of people.

By now it is approaching 11am and our disappointment has turned into seething rage. We exited the park at 11:10am and made our way to Umeda Station to see if we could salvage the day. Turns out we're only a 15 minute walk from the Sky Building which has an outdoor observatory on the roof, 173 meters above Osaka. It was a really cool view and definitely worth checking out. Buying a ticket to the observatory also gave us access to the Koji Kinutani Tenku Art Museum which contained some breathtaking sculptures and paintings.

Afterwords we realized that we were within walking distance of the Capcom Cafe and could potentially get a reservation, something we failed to do the day before. A quick search let us secure a reservation which got us access to some nice drinks and snacks tangentially associated with Phoenix Wright and Monster Hunter.

Back at the hotel we grabbed a drink in the lounge and debated what we wanted to do for dinner. It just so happens that we learned today (from a gachapon machine of all places) that 551 Horai is the pride of the Kansai region for the pork buns they make. In another happy coincidence a 551 Horai is in Shin-Osaka Station so we popped out and grabbed four pork buns. This was easily the best decision we made all day because those were some of the most delicious pork buns I have had in my entire life. They also came with some sort of wasabi mustard packets that added another beautiful burst of flavour. At this point in time if I ever return to Osaka it will be primarily to have more 551 Horai pork buns.