Taste Test: Haagen Dazs' Lemon Ginger Float

Haagen Dazs Japan has come out with a new seasonal flavor- Lemon Ginger Float!

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Haagen Dazs Japan often comes out with new limited edition seasonal flavors and I am always eager to try them out. You can check out my last taste test post on Haagen Dazs carrot and tomato ice cream here. 

So on to the taste test! The inside of the container:

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The brown is ginger flavored ice cream (more like a sherbet really). The white is lemon ice cream.

My first bite was mostly the ginger part of the ice cream and it tasted very ginger-y, almost like medicine. I then made sure to get a bite of both the lemon and ginger and it was lovely. The creamy lemon ice cream and the spicy ginger ice cream were a great mix. This is an ice cream I would definitely buy again.  I passed it over to Masa and he said he liked it but wouldn’t buy it again because it was to gingery. Masa likes really sweet things and I prefer things to be a  bit more bitter so this ice cream may not be for you if you have a major sweet tooth.

I can’t wait to see what flavor Haagen Dazs comes out with next!

Getting Into The Wizarding World of Harry Potter USJ

I took a day off work on July 15th and took a train to Universal Studios Japan (USJ) to attend the opening day of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter(WWHP) with my friend Dani.

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At the entrance of USJ

The park opened at 8:30am so we decided to meet there at 8:15 with tickets that we already printed out from the USJ website. When I got to the station, at about 8:10, I noticed people running out of the station at full speed and racing up the escalator. I thought this was strange as the park wasn’t going to even open for another 20 minutes but I just brushed it off. I met up with my friend Dani and we head to the park which we were surprised to see was open. We went through the gates easily and headed toward the WWHP  when I heard multiple people shouting into megaphones saying “入場整理券” or “entry ticket” I went over to someone who worked at the park and they told me I had to get in line to get an entry ticket to enter WWHP.  “Wait? I have to get a ticket to get into Harry Potter World?” I asked. “Yes” she answered and she pointed to a very, very, long line that was getting longer by the minute. It took Dani and I about 5 minutes to walk to the end of the line, which was fortunately moving very quickly. I took a look at my phone and it was only 8:20. We got to  the head of the line at about 8:32 and pushed a button at one of the many ticket machines that gave us an entry ticket that said we could enter Harry Potter at 11.50. I couldn’t help but wonder what time we would have been allowed to enter Harry Potter World  if we had gotten there at 10am or something. We had three hours to kill so Dani and I went around to all of the rides like Jurassic Park, Jaws, Backdraft, and even Sesame Street 4-D (which was surprisingly fun and very cute.) There were virtually no lines anywhere. Most likely because it was early on a Tuesday morning and probably because most people were in line to get an entry ticket for Harry Potter World.  As we walked around the park it was amazing to see that so many people had dressed up in costumes. Even though it was 9o degrees outside many people had cloaks and sweaters on.

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Being silly at Jaws

At 11.50 we finally got into Harry Potter World.

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Gorgeous, but very crowded.

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Hogwarts Express

It was insanely crowded, which was to be expected. There was a two hour wait to get into Honeydukes/Zonkos (the stores were connected), there was a line for the Butterbeer stand, and a long line to get something to eat at the Three Broomsticks/Hog’s Head(also connected).  Dani and I decided to get in line for food first.  We waited behind a group of Slytherin girls decked out in sweaters and cloaks (It was 90 degrees outside! So impressed by their dedication!) and waited about 2 hours to get into Three Broomsticks.  The menu consisted of ribs and corn, fish and chips, roast chicken and salad, or  Cornish pasties and salad. Dessert consisted of chocolate cake, apple pie or ice cream.  The drink menu consisted of juices, pumpkin juice (it was 800 yen), Butterbeer, and frozen Butterbeer. I got the fish and chips and Butterbeer.

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The Butterbeer was amazing! 500 yen for a normal cup and 1000 yen for a souvenir cup. Here is how I described it to my husband:

 

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The Butterbeer was so good that I got another on the way out at Hog’s Head which only serves drinks and had no line.

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Enjoying our Butterbeer in front of Hogwarts

Dani and I went into a few shops that didn’t have lines. (Filch’s Emporium and and Honeydukes/Zonko’s both still had lines). The Owl Post Shop sold postcards and Harry Potter stamps that you can mail from USJ.  We also checked out all the different wands for sale like Luna’s, Snape’s, Krum’s, and other character’s wands.

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We later decided to get into line for Honeydukes/Joke Shop but the wait for the line  was four hours. We took a peek inside and the only things that were being sold there that weren’t being sold at other stores seemed to be cotton candy and some joke toys like giant ears. Items like Sneakoscopes, chocolate frogs, and Every Flavor Beans were sold at stores with no lines. Perhaps there were rare items in the store, but  we figured it wasn’t worth the wait.  We stopped to see a show in the square that consisted of the boys from Viktor Krum’s school and the girls from Beauxbaton doing a dance. There was also the frog choir show, but they did a beat box rap version of “Something Wicked This Way comes” which had me and Dani both rolling our eyes. We stopped by the Black Lake which I hear is only at USJ. The view from the lake gives you a great view of Hogwarts! photo (2)

We didn’t do any of the rides while we were there as I get horrible motion sickness. We spent about 5 hours in the WWHP and it was magical. So many people were dressed up and you could tell everyone was excited to be there, which makes sense because only die hard fans would be willing to brave the lines on opening day. The long lines  honestly weren’t all that bad as the people- watching was amazing. It was fun to see everyone’s costumes and the merch that they all bought. I’ve decided to go to WWHP around Christmas with Masa. The lines will hopefully be shorter and I think  the snow covered roofs will fit in more perfectly with the holiday season.

Feel free to ask me any questions about the WWHP at USJ!

Jizo Statues

I’m so lucky to see these beautiful Jizo statues on my way to work.

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Jizo is the patron deity of deceased children and aborted fetuses. He delivers babies’ spirits from limbo, beats up demons, and fulfills wishes. The neighborhood Buddhists often dress the statues up in bibs and children’s clothing as a sign of respect and care.

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This one is nice and warm for winter

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This one is all ready for school

Sometimes I get so tired of living in a foreign country and all I want to do is go back to the States. Then suddenly I will stumble across something so foreign and mystical, like a Jizo statue, and I’ll feel so happy to live here.

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The Porch

I have lived in Japan for way too long. I can’t remember if saying “See you!” when saying goodbye to someone is natural English or not. Native English speakers say “See you later” or “See you around,” no one just says “See you” right? Or am I going crazy?

Masa and I got a new doormat for our porch. He likes it because he loves Dachshunds. I like it because of the weird English, or at least I think its weird.

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We got the doormat to dress up our small “porch” area. You exit the elevator, turn right, and come to our little gate.

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The porch is  a pretty decent size and I thought it would be a fun area to decorate.  Masa and I bought two fake trees and I got a few cute supplies from the Japanese dollar store.  It took me about 20 minutes to get everything set up.

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I’m quite pleased with how it all came out.

You may be wondering how I got our name on the wooden plate.  I have horrible penmanship, but I didn’t want to pay for a personalized name plate. I’d seen a few pins on Pinterest about transferring pictures to wood and I thought I would give it a try. I  found a great tutorial on transferring a picture printed from an inkjet printer to wood.

I typed our name into Microsoft Word and mirror imaged it. I took off all of the labels from an adhesive label sheet and printed our name on the film sheet. I pressed it against the wood and…. it came out miserably light. All you could see was a blurry outline of the words. This wasn’t a major problem though. I just traced over the outline with a magic marker.

I plan on decorating the trees for different holidays. Our neighbors will probably think it’s super weird as this isn’t usually done in Japan, but I don’t really care. They are going to have to get use to my American hi-jinks.