Saturday and Sunday, November 4 & 5 is birthday weekend.  It’s Halyard’s 16th birthday (and Avalon’s 11th and my 40-something).  To celebrate Halyard’s 16th we decided to go on a little weekend getaway.  Nagashima Spa Land is an amusement park that he had asked to go many months ago.  It’s actually just one part of the larger Nagashima Resort which encompasses the amusement park and a water park, a hot springs onsen, an outlet shopping mall and a large flower garden called Nabana no Sato.  Nagashima Spa Land reminded me of a mini Six Flags from the US.

It’s about 2 hours away near the city of Nagoya so we rented a car the night before.  We rented a large house from Airbnb about 10 minutes away from the resort.  We rounded everyone up at 6:30 am on Saturday morning and left our house by 7:30am.  The amusement park opens at 9:30 so we wanted to get there at the earliest time.  It was a lot of fun.  We went to the park on both Saturday and Sunday, plus at night we went to the grand winter illumination at Nabana no Sato.  Here are some photos from our trip.This red and white roller coaster is called “Steel Dragon 2000.”  This photo is but a small slice of the whole ride.  Steel Dragon – when it was built – and still to this day – is the world’s longest roller coaster.  We looked it up and Google says, so it must be true.  It’s also the sixth fastest roller coaster in the world and the second fastest in Japan.  This ride is so long that when I watched the cars leave at the beginning they disappear from sight and then return several minutes later.  That’s a long time for a roller coaster!  I went on it with the kids three times.  It was the best ride there.  The next photo from the parking lot shows more of the length of the ride.  But even that isn’t the whole thing.This was our first view from the parking lot when we stepped out of the car.  A lot of big roller coasters.  In Japan they are called jet coasters.  When I say roller coasters people look at me funny.This jet coaster is called Arashi. The cars on this ride spin around 360 degrees as they go around on the green track.  I got dizzy just watching this ride from the ground.  The Japanese character above is Arashi and it means tempest.  Recently we went back to a famous town called Arashiyama, which is on the west side of Kyoto, and we noticed this same kanji character for arashi (tempest) + yama (mountain).  Tempest mountain or Mountain tempest!?This ride is called Ultra Twister.  First you go up and up to the top of this first drop.  Then as the ride picks up speed it starts to spin around in circles inside the green tunnel track.  The track looks like a slinky and the thing is spinning pretty fast as you jet through.  Another dizzy ride!

I love, love the twin dress up in Japan, especially at the amusement parks and I could not resist taking a photo of these two.  What happens to wardrobes if/when they break up?  I am sure this gal got her boyfriend to carry her purse for her because that handbag he’s carrying is too fancy with bling to be a man-bag.  We saw them later in line for Steel Dragon and I just cracked up again.We are so lucky.  Tonight is a huge fireworks show at Nagashima Spa Land.  The posters say it is only this night and the next Saturday.  The fireworks are amazing.  Typically for Japan they seem to go on forever.  The grand finale was quite a long spectacle.  Fireworks in Japan are the best!Here is the amazing house that we stayed overnight in.  It was incredibly large with three large bedrooms and three twin beds in each room.  Plus a downstairs tatami area (behind Avalon and Kaiyo above) for laying out futons for extra guests.   The kitchen and dining area is huge.  And the ofuro (bathtub) below is immense!  We could fit the whole family in there if we wanted to!  But we didn’t try.  We’re in the city of Kuwana, Mie Prefecture.  Kuwana manhole cover!  YESSSS!