It’s the time of year to share our feelings, and then go punch some bricks.

Although it had its moments, 2021 has been a less than stellar year for the most part. It’s made it really hard to get into the holiday spirit, and quite frankly our new office Santa toilet just wasn’t cutting it.

So P.K. Sanjun and myself headed over to Universal Studios Japan (USJ) in Osaka to try and rediscover that yuletide cheer of our youths.

USJ had just started their winter line of holiday themed events and merch, so it was already beginning to look a lot like Christmas there. From their live roadside concerts featuring pop renditions of classic carols…

▼ This is the first time I’ve ever heard someone rap to “Little Drummer Boy”

…to festively dressed Minions…

…to even Cookie Monster and Elmo getting in on the action.

Most of the holiday-themed changes happened in the family-oriented Wonderland section of the park. For instance, in the Snoopy area, guests are handed little cards to help express their feelings to family and friends. Staff on-hand will even assist you in verbalizing your emotions in the best way if you’re having trouble.

P.K. took this chance to forgive Yoshio for volunteering him to a fight to the death with a major tea producer earlier this year.

Of course, the USJ No Limit Tree was also erected, and in true theme park fashion there are periodic shows with appearances by the park’s diverse roster of characters. This time we were treated with a visit from Hello Kitty, Elmo, Snoopy, and Minions.

▼ “No Limit” is the slogan for USJ.

This was all getting a little too edgy for our liking, so we headed over to the newly set-up Demon Slayer section for something more wholesome.

However, when we arrived there was already a gigantic line-up, easily over an hour long… but what was it for?

After walking around the corner to the other end we found it.

▼ Popcorn!

Yes, the big draw on this day was definitely the Nezuko Popcorn case for 3,700 yen ($33). USJ sells many theme-cases with the added benefit of free refills, but these people were probably more interested in the rarity of this particular item exclusive only to this one little kiosk.

There was no shortage of other food and merch for sale too. Light foods such as steamed buns, bread rolls, and dorayaki, all designed with Demon Slayer characters, were sold there.

Half-length costumes based on the most popular characters were also sold for about 7,900 yen ($70) each. We could see a lot of people walking around in them, often along with the full cosplay hair and accessories.

The centerpiece of this area is the Demon Slayer XR ride, but this line-up wasn’t for that. These people were just waiting to take a picture in front of the life-sized statues of Tanjiro and Kyojuro in front of the entrance to the ride.

The lineup for the roller-coaster-like ride was comparable to the popcorn line-up, but well worth the wait. Riders throw on lightweight VR googles and suddenly become immersed in the world of the anime at all angles.

▼ The real googles actually look a little more Demon Slayer-ey than the commercial

Unfortunately I couldn’t take any pictures of it because it’s hard to squeeze a camera inside the googles, but take my word for it that it’s pretty cool. Also because I was pretty much blind to the real world, it was hard to tell how much of the actual ride was a motion simulator or an actual car on a track, but the movement felt realistically like an out of control demon-possessed train.

And no trip to USJ would be complete without a stop at Super Nintendo World. We both had already been here when it opened earlier this year, but like the games this section is based on, it has great replay value.

In fact, the second time around I noticed a lot of details that I had missed before, like small hidden markers on the wall that can be activated by your Power Up Band. All in all there are 170 tasks to complete in the area. Some are very easy, such as just saying hello to Mario and Luigi.

Some are more difficult, such as getting a high score on Mario Kart. I went head to head with P.K. but sadly lost 101 to 144.

▼ I’m blaming my loss on the big bag of documents I was carrying around because I’m such a nerd.

I got a newfound appreciation for the depth in this area, which by the way didn’t seem seriously affected by the fire a few days earlier at all. If I had one request, it would be to put some of the secret markers or coin blocks along the line to rides like Mario Kart to make them more enjoyable.

▼ There’s certainly no shortage of space.

That being said, there’s whole lot to look at and enjoy throughout the castle.

You need to keep a sharp eye out for small touches like Shigeru Miyamoto‘s autograph on the portrait of Bowser.

My personal favorite was the stained glass piranha plant lamp.

After we got the necessary keys we also went into the castle of Bowser Jr. to mix it up with him a bit. This involves controlling a projection of your own silhouette on a screen to swat away Bob-Ombs, throw fire balls, duck Bullet Bills, and jump up to hit question blocks.

As always, a little bit of Nintendo went a long way, and our holiday spirit felt fully charged once again.

On the way out of the park we passed by the No Limit Christmas Tree once again, but by this time it had been fully illuminated.

There was also a lot of projection mapping on the buildings surrounding the courtyard to liven up the entire area.

The whole scene was so beautiful that I worked up the courage to finally tell P.K. that I loved his lunch. I would have used my Snoopy card, but I already spent it telling Mr. Sato how much I value his poetry.

Oh that’s right. We did so much on that day that I totally forgot to mention all the food we ate. In fact, there was so much of it, let’s deal with it in another article coming soon!

Photos: ©SoraNews24
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