I have always been a huge fan of Japan and its culture. As a young kid I was hooked on shows such as Battle of the Planets which were 70's take on Japanese Anime dubbed for Western audiences. I had Japanese classmates who'd introduce me to Origami and Transformer robots (anyone remember one where a tank, a robot and a lion would join up into one super big robot). In the 80's I was hooked on the tales of the Ninja and the influx of cheesy Ninja movies that were prevalent at the time. I was so hooked I even told my career's advisor that I wished to be one when I was older.
At University I diverted from my Computing degree to take a module on the Japanese Business Environment, from which I learnt a great deal about the Japanese mindset and an appreciation for their culture. Around the same time I had started teaching myself the language, buying a few language books and failing miserably to attempt to translate some manga books I'd bought from a large Japanese centre in North London. I had a social circle of Japanese people that I would spend quite a bit of time with. I also spent one night a week at hashi no kai, a club where Japanese and Brits could meet in an attempt to learn about each other's culture. Following University I applied, unsuccessfully to be an English teacher in Japan under the JET program which targeted graduates with the opportunity to spend time in Japanese schools teaching English.
All of this interest in all things Japanese meant that I knew I was destined to visit the country at somepoint. I was gutted when I didn't get to go after University but I'm a firm believer that if things were meant to happen they would.
I joined the European Coaster Club in 2002 and they had been planning for sometime to visit some Theme Parks in Japan. The trip was announced informally in 2003 and I immediately started saving for it. A year later the official notice was made and the itinerary announced. There were 18 parks arranged for 14 days, the itinerary was extremely tight. I was then unsure whether or not I wanted to do this trip as there was so much that I wanted to do in Japan and I wasn't sure I would have the time to do it. This was after all a Theme Park Tour, not a sightseeing tour, although they had included some time for it.
In the end I decided that I had the funds to do it so why not.
The pages that follow are a report on each place that we went to. To know that my efforts had been worthwhile in putting this together I've enabled comments, please feel free to add your own, good or bad.