By Miku Sato, Semester at Sea, Spring 2017

At the first day of Japan, I went to the Universal Studios Japan (USJ) after 9 years.  When the train to USJ arrived at the station, I was so excited because the design of the train was Sesame Street, which created a welcoming atmosphere.  Even before I got to USJ, I felt as if I was already inside of the park.

Another thing I realized was that the number of foreigners, especially from China and South Korea, become larger compared to the number of that in 2008.  This is because USJ introduced Harry Potter Area in 2014 and was the first to introduce it in Asia.  Also, USJ invested over half of the annual sales of $45 billion in Harry Potter Area.  For Asian people who are fans of Harry Potter, it is much easier to visit the theme park instead of going to United Kingdom.  In fact, I could easily find how popular the area was because it was obviously crowded.  When I was queuing for the ride, I actually got to walk through different parts of Hogwarts reconstructed within the castle, and the experience was so realistic. I understood why so many people visit this area.

In addition, I thought USJ mounts a similar campaign to the campaign of New York City, which has steadily increased family visits in 2000s.  To attract more family visit, NYC introduced featuring mascots such as Sesame Street and The Smurfs.  Like this, there were lots of rides of popular mascots for kids, which did not exist in 2008.  I remember that USJ at that time had just rides made based on American movies and not have rides for kids.  It was a little bit boring for me of 12 years old because I had never watched American movies until then.  If I were a today’s kid, I could have enjoyed the rides in USJ very much.  


When I was about to leave USJ, I accidentally saw my friend from high school in USJ.  She works there as a part time job worker, and a part of her job is cleaning the park.  Since I am taking a tourism class, I thought this is a good opportunity to ask about what the most important secret of USJ is, so I asked it to her.  Thinking it over, she taught me that USJ plays supersonic waves that we human cannot hear and feel, to avoid pigeon or crow which mess a trash can up.  I looked back, and I realized that I did not see any birds in USJ through the day, like her saying.

If I was not taking the tourism class, I would have never thought about how USJ has developed and noticed the very detailed information that I got.  It was very interesting to think it from several points of view.