You are a huge fan of the Korean girl group, Kara, right? Rhetorical question, of course you are. We could spend hours – days, even – arguing which song is their best, but let's just agree that Jet Coaster Love, their first Number One single in Japan, is a strong contender. Here's an English translation of the first few lines:
I am liking you, no matter whether I am asleep or awake
I’m in love
Ho! sixth sense I know I feel
Confess to me, there’s still time left
(My heart is pounding)
If you don’t say it properly, we can’t start; please tell me!
(NO!) My feelings are changing (HURRY UP) Prepare yourself!
Your heart’s siren
Is blaring, a jet coaster; hug me!
Bob Dylan wishes he could write like this, and the girls deliver the lyrics with a soulful intensity that puts Adele to shame but the point is that I rode my first Jet Coaster at Hirakata, which was kind of a big deal for me, silly as it sounds. And that was just one high point of very many on this day, because we also got to spend time at Kyoto's Fushimi Inari-taisha, a mega-wicked mountainside Shinto shrine, and we wrapped it up with a sushi dinner that will never be forgotten. And plenty more in between, including what may be my favorite non-Disney dark ride. (To the man or woman who thought to add headphones to a dark ride vehicle, I say: you should be on the shortlist for a MacArthur Fellowship.)
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The day began with a train trip to the city of Hirakata (a "bed-town" for Osaka), which is where you'll find Hirakata Park, a family-friendly joint targeting the tween-and-younger demo primarily. You should add this place to your northern Japan travel plans, though, because it has at least one solid credit, two or three if you're feeling generous; an Intamin freefall tower; a decent flume ride; and the aforementioned headphones-enhanced dark ride (and others, too!). (Remember Hai Karate! cologne? Not to digress, but LOL.)
The park is a minutes-long stroll from the local train station so we got to reconnoitre another more suburban part of this country.
I'm pretty sure it was Confucius who said: "A place for joyful entertainment without a tall revolving wheel is but a pond without koi, which is a crappy pond, if you ask me."
Thumbs up for the stylish entry plaza!
See, little kids. We saw several groups of them, from local schools or something, and they were color-coded for easy herding. I know, adorable.
For those adorable little kids, there were plenty of adorable little attractions...