The first stop: Tokyo


The start of a great journey


After a long and tiring journey from Linz to Vienna to Taipei we finally arrived at our destination: Tokyo. 

It's so good to be back after 4 years! The wonderful thing about Japan: I can be tired as hell, as soon as I step outside, I want to explore, eat the food and see the cities. Boosted by secret energies! Collect the mobile wifi, exchange money, get the Japan Rail Pass, grab a can of hot tonkotsu ramen soup and board the Narita Express towards our hotel in Ikebukuro. 


What to do on your first evening in Tokyo? Of course, go for a nice hot bowl of Ramen. I was positively surprised when we got greeted with fluent English at the door, cool. Stuffed with delicious ramen, we took a little walk through the area. 
I'm fond of Ikebukuro, since it was where I stayed at my very first trip to Japan (back in 2010, at the tender age of 18 and ready for adventures). And of course because of all the nerdy stuff (Yu-Gi-Oh in 2016, good ol times) and all the beautiful Doujinshi shops. Hehe. 

Fuji-Q Highland


My friend bailed on me with the excuse of being jetlagged, so I rose alone at the wee hours of like 6 am. But I was in high spirits: Today, Monday, was the only convenient day to visit Fuji-Q Highland, an amusement park with some of the best roller coasters! I entered the Yamanote line towards Shinjuku to get on the train towards mount Fuji. The train ride was supposed to be very scenic, or something like that, the internet said.

Well. If it wasn't booked out.
"The next one leaves in 2 hours, and takes 2 hours", the man at the ticket centre told me. I'd arrive somewhen in the afternoon. Bloody nope. Somehow, I found out about the busses leaving from Shinjuku, managed to find the bus station (hint: it's at the complete other ass end of the station and 3 stories up), bought a ticket from the vending machine and managed to enter the bus, just 5 minutes before departure.
These are the moments where you feel invincible, like you could do anything! 

And there we are - Fujisan smiling on a beautiful, sunny day, just above the wild curves of the roller coasters. Giddy with excitement I entered - there was no crowd waiting at the entrance at all. The first downer awaited in the form of a screen telling me that all the roller coasters currently were closed due to inspection, except for "Eejanaika", which had a waiting time of 60 minutes. 

...gee great. 

Oh well. When you enter the park, the first Roller Coaster is Fujiyama. I noticed an employee tinkering around at the entrance, so I quickly stepped in line with a few others. We were lucky, the coaster just finished inspections and opened right now! 

One thing you need to know about Japanese roller coaster safety culture: It is ridiculous.

Prepare yourself to do a silly dance, a body inspection with a metal detector and getting rid of any little thing in your pockets (yes, even that 1 single tissue). Did you think the waiting times were this long because of the amount of people visiting? Hahaha. Well yeah, that too, but it's mainly because of these ridiculous safety measurements. 

After finishing my safety dance (something something, hands, legs, I have no clue what they were singing) I entered Fujiyama, "King of Coasters". The view is stunning! You can see the whole park and beautiful mount Fuji. The ride itself was pretty rough, especially towards the end, but still nice (Though I'd only recommend riding it when the waiting times are low). When leaving the station, I could catch a glimpse of the new roller coaster they were just building there. 

A walk through the park showed me that I picked a very lucky day indeed: It was almost empty! The school holidays hadn't begun yet, it was a sunny day, perfect. 


"Are you kidding me?!" might be the first reaction when you see this beauty. 76 meters high, reaching a speed of 126 km/h and a vertical drop will give you the best (or worst) 60 seconds of your life. This coaster holds a record for the most inversions and it's also one of the Top 10 coasters in the world

Excited I entered the waiting area - with the first nice surprise. Back in 2010 I visited Fuji-Q Highland. It was March, ass cold (I was prepared for spring in Tokyo, not snow at the bottom of Fujisan) and the sign at the waiting queue said 2 hours. I laughed it off as probably inaccurate. 
Learn from my mistakes: If Japan estimates waiting times, they are usually correct. Those were the most miserable 2 hours waiting I ever spent. (also thanks to my body deciding that this would be the perfect moment to open the red flood gates. Thanks)


Anyway. The waiting area was empty. I was prepared for the worst, so the 20 minutes waiting felt like nothing at all, and I went in with good spirits! Enter the next weird security check: Put away all your belongings (they have cases, which is nice) and take off your shoes. Step through a metal detector door. Giggle at some boys jumping around because it's december and they're not wearing any socks.

First, everyone steps onto a tile with a number, the seat number you'll get on later. Then you turn around towards a person on a little stage, who showes you via another hilarious song-dance to keep your hands down, lean back and don't wave your legs around. Hahah (no, I'm not making this up)

Proceed to another area with your field-numbers and afterwards it's time to board! If you're riding alone like me, the seat next to yours stays free and you'll have to sit at the inner side of the train (which annoyed me so much... outside is so much more thrilling, cries). 

After what feels like taking an entry test to university, they'll finally wave you off (of course only after you yourself and 2 different staff persons checked that you're strapped in correctly)!

The ascend is pretty cold (remember, december, no shoes), but then follows the fkin best drop of a roller coaster ever. Your seat will dip backwards until you glance down while speeding through the vertical slope and the following loop. I can't describe it, you gotta try this for yourself. 

Here's a video to get a feel

What else is there to say? Fuji-Q highland is not very strong on theming; There was a Naruto area and a Thomas the tank engine area (and an apparently very good haunted house, which I will never set foot in), but if you're a fan of Disney Land or Universal Studios, Fuji-Q might not satisfy you. But if you're looking for some great rides and a beautiful view? Come here. Some more impressions: 


Happy and satisfied (did I ride Eejanaika 3 times? Yes, yes I did.) I took the bus back to Shinjuku. Since Christmas was coming up, everything was decorated with beautiful lights. A tour through the many arcade game stores and some yummy Okonomiyaki at Ikebukuro's Sunshine City followed. 

... Yes, maybe my Okonomiyaki looked buttugly and I really should learn how to do it properly, but eh. Still tasted delicious. 

Our next stop will be... Nagoya! 


What did you think? Leave a comment! ♥️

Helpful Links:

Pocket Wifi: rental.cdjapan.co.jp/index_en_jpy_7.html

Fuji-Q Highland: www.fujiq.jp/en

Bus Shinjuku - Fuji-Q: www.japan-guide.com/blog/lori/190508.html

How to use buses: www.japan-guide.com/e/e2015.html

Ikebukuro Sunshine City (Shopping Centre): https://sunshinecity.jp/en/


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