Our first full day in Osaka was spent at none other than Universal Studios Japan (USJ)! As all the rides are narrated in Japanese, it did get kind of boring for us (being non-Japanese speakers) after a while, but we also had fun walking around the theme park and taking pictures.
The highlight of USJ is undoubtedly the Wizarding World of Harry Potter! Being huge fans of the novel by J.K. Rowling, we definitely had to go see for ourselves when we decided upon Osaka as one of our destinations. We had also gone for the Warner Brothers Studio Tour in London a few years back, and we enjoyed walking through the set of Harry Potter, especially Diagon Alley.
Prior to leaving Singapore, I had already bought tickets for USJ through the Japanese website. Full credits go to a fellow blogger (Hinoki), who came up with this awesome step-by-step guide to purchasing USJ tickets online. Note that if you choose “English” as your language, it will not allow you to purchase tickets online (I do not know why, but yeah, it is just like that).
With our tickets in hand, we arrived at USJ around 9am. Universal-city station (on the Osaka Loop Line) serves USJ, so it is really very convenient to get to the theme park by train.
We made a quick pit stop at Lawson’s to buy snacks and drinks to smuggle in, but we later found out that the staff were too busy to even check our bags (so yep, we got them in easily). It’s about a 5min walk from the station to the entrance of USJ, and a shopping mall, a few hotels and restaurants can be found along the footpath.
A mandatory shot of the Universal ball at the entrance.
There was a MASSIVE queue at the entrance of USJ, and it took us about 30min just to get into the theme park. Just look at that crowd!
And we’re in! The main street of USJ.
We found Spidey hanging around the corner, and politely asked for a picture. 🙂
We chanced upon a performance by a group of really talented musicians, and stopped to watch. The Japanese are really polite, and sit down on the floor to avoid blocking the view of those behind.
Obviously I am having absolutely no luck at this. I really wanted the big minion though!
We took a few rides such as the Spiderman ride and the Back to the Future ride, since we had the Express 5 pass. Yes, if you’re wondering, we paid for the Express 5 pass JUST to be able to queue in the fast lane for the Harry Potter ride (Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey). It was totally worth it though, since we found out that the wait time was close to 2 hours later that day!
A timed entrance ticket to the Wizarding World is required, and you can get it free (or you can just purchase the Express 5 or Express 7 pass) by queueing up at the Ticketing Site within the theme park.
Anyway, here’s me and the Flying Ford Anglia that unfortunately crashed into the tree along the way to Hogsmeade.
Before long, we stumbled upon Hogsmeade, which looked absolutely beautiful with the snow-covered rooftops.
Butterbeer is a must of course! Although it really is just very sweet ice cream soda. :p
Along the way to Hogwarts, we came across a performance by the students of Hogwarts!
The next few pictures are of the majestic Hogwarts castle, which looked really impressive up close. Can I hear the oohs and ahhs? 😀
We showed the staff our Express 5 pass, which specified a timing for the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride. We literally zoomed past the 2 hour long queue and went straight to deposit our bags inside the lockers. Lockers are free to use, and all bags have to be kept in the lockers before you are allowed to proceed further.
We had to walk through Hogwarts to get to the ride, passing by Dumbledore’s study and the Gryffindor common room in the process. The ride is a 4D-ride, and it was easily one of the best 4D-ride I have taken. You are strapped onto a suspended seat (kind of like those roller coasters where your legs dangle in the air) and whizzed off for a magical journey through the grounds of Hogwarts. Some notable places were Aragog’s cave, the Whomping Willow, and the Quidditch pitch! You get to battle Dementors and end up catching the Golden Snitch too! Pretty cool. 😀
After the ride, we went to explore Hogsmeade in greater detail.
There is usually a queue to get into Honeydukes. The queue moved quite fast though, so we did not have to wait very long.
The Three Broomsticks is a restaurant that serves proper mains, although the waiting time to eat there was too long for us, thus we gave it a miss.
We found the monster book of monsters locked up! It was being naughty I guess, trying to snap off the fingers of unsuspecting customers. :p
Here’s a pic of the Hogwarts Express!
An owl also made a guest appearance at the Owl Post Office.
Of course, we also took a few pics with our favourite cartoon characters! Hello Elmo and Shrek!
It started raining quite heavily around 4pm, and we decided to leave USJ for our next destination.Before taking the train down to Nippombashi, we stopped by Tully’s Coffee for tea and to rest our legs. The chocolate mille crepe with ice cream was great!
It was a short 5min walk from the train station to the main shopping street, and luckily for us it was only drizzling.
The bright neon lights in Nippombashi.
Of course, I could not leave Nippombashi without taking a picture with the Glico man! 😀
We walked along the main street and passed many restaurants and small eateries.
We eventually found what we had come looking for; Kinryu Ramen. It has a huge green dragon as its mascot, so you cannot miss it.
We ordered at the self-service kiosk, and passed the tickets to the chef. There are only 2 choices available; regular ramen (600¥/S$7) or ramen with extra pork slices (900¥/S$10.50). The ramen was decent, but nothing to write home about really. I was kind of disappointed as I had heard some good reviews, but oh well.
Opposite Kinryu Ramen is a takoyaki shop called Creo-ru, which sells pretty good takoyaki.
We bought 6 balls of takoyaki for 450¥ (S$5.20), and they were quite tasty. The bonito flakes came in small pieces, and were definitely umami! 🙂
I found out later that some woman behind me was eyeing my takos. 😉
Summary of Day 1:
– Universal Studios Japan & Wizarding World of Harry Potter (nearest station: Universal-city)
– Nippombashi (nearest station: Nippombashi)
– Kinryu Ramen (nearest station: Nippombashi)
– Creo-ru takoyaki (nearest station: Nippombashi)