Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Japanese Wizarding World of Harry Potter

I grew up reading Harry Potter. I read the first three books in elementary school as I patiently waited for my owl to arrive. Even after I resigned myself to a muggle middle and high school education I would read the newest installment of the series every summer that one was released. As a family we would ride the golf cart to the local bookstore for the midnight premiere. I was able to grow up with Harry and his friends as I received the final book for a high school graduation gift. I always wanted to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, but despite the fact I was only one state away I never did.  When I discovered the opening of the same park at Universal Studios Osaka I had to see it for myself. I was able to convince Matt and our Harry Potter-obsessed friends to come along!

The park in Osaka had many of the same attractions as the park in Orlando: the Flight of the Hippogriff roller coaster, Hogsmeade shops, the Three Broomsticks restaurant, and Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey located inside Hogwarts Castle. Even though we were in Japan, I assumed that, based on the British location and original actors, most things would be in English. I assumed incorrectly. We went to see Ollivander in his wand shop. While he was a Western actor who delivered half of his lines with a British accent, when he asked direct questions to the audience he did so in Japanese. The ride inside Hogwarts featured the actors from the movie, but their lines were dubbed over in Japanese. The attendants in the gift shop spoke Japanese, and they were thrilled with our attempts to communicate. They complimented us on our few words. 

We were the only Westerners in sight other than the hired characters. We were stared at quite a bit while waiting in line. Speaking of lines, there was a line for EVERYTHING. We had to obtain a ticket for a specific time to simply enter the park. We waited in line to enter Ollivander's wand shop, waited in line to enter the Three Broomsticks to order food, and then waited in some more lines to ride the rides. There were lots and LOTS of people. Luckily the day was overcast so we were not dying in the sun as we waited. It was all worth the wait! I had so much fun experiencing the fantasy of the world created by J.K. Rowling. 

The Mirror of Erised in a gift shop! We saw ourselves at Harry Potter World!

Butterbeer at the Three Broomsticks
And my pumpkin juice!
The Hogwarts Express in Hogsmeade
The entry to Hogwarts Castle

Hogwarts over the Black Lake

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