Hello, dear readers! I just got back from my Osaka + Kyoto trip, and I can’t wait to share with you all the awesome memories of my trip. To be frank, my body wasn’t in its very best condition during the trip (and I am still feeling weak now) due to the stubborn stomach flu. (it has been about a month, and it just won’t go away T^T).
So I flew to Kansai Airport on 24th July and since the Tenjin Matsuri, one of the top annual festivals in Kansai Area was going on the next day, me and my friends have no choice but to schedule Universal Studio on our arrival date. It wasn’t the best choice since it shorten the visiting hours we will have in the theme park but considering I was still suffering from the stomach flu, I guess it is a fair judgement. Come to think of it again, the park is just 40 minutes away from the airport. If we were to check out Osaka city first before going to the Universal Studio Japan, we’d have to travel 1hr from the airport to Shinsaibashi, and spend another 35-40 minutes from there to the park.
Since I am not in the condition to take all the exciting rides, our plan was just to check out the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ located in the Universal Studio Japan. (yes! ONLY checking out the park and call it a day) We reached the park at about 4 pm, and paid about 5,600 yen for the half day tickets — no much difference from the regular one day ticket and the visitors in the park did not seem to decrease despite the summer heat out there. Now, here comes the important question:
Is there a need to purchase Universal Express Pass?
Many of my friends asked if an express pass is necessary. To my understanding, the Express Pass is an additional ticket option on top of the 7,200 yen regular adult entrance fee one should pay when you enter the park. That would mean you’ll be spending 7,200 + 5,200 = 12,400 yen for the total package per person + Express Pass for 5 rides. I would say if you have no choice but to visit the park in summer, you might want to consider the express pass, as waiting under the heat for about 40 minutes per ride could be quite unpleasant. If you are a big fan of the amusement park and enjoy taking all the rides, consider the Express Pass. But these passes comes in a limited amount so please plan early and act fast.
For my case, however, we decided to go for the regular ticket simply because we’re only targetting the Harry Potter Theme Park, and there are only two rides in the Hogwarts™ castle! Since we have no intention to check out the rides out of Hogwarts, we figured a half-day ticket is the best plan for us!
Are there luggage storage/lockers in the Universal Studio Japan?
There are plenty of them, so don’t worry if you are planning to check out the Universal Studio Japan right after touching down at Kansai Airport!
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ is divided into two parts: The Hogwarts™ Castle and the Hogsmeade™. The Hogwarts consist of the two iconic rides, and you can dine and shop all the Harry Potter related souvenirs at the Hogsmeade™.
You can get all the interesting sweets appeared in the Harry Potter stories, including Berty Bott’s Every Flavour Beans and Chocolate Frogs from the shop Honeydukes. Since I already visited the Harry Potter exhibition years ago at ArtScience Museum and got myself a box of Every Flavour Beans then, we spent about 5 minutes in the store and escaped from the crazy crowds.
Dervish and Banges, where you can get to see all the Quidditch equipment and even try on Hogwarts Uniforms!
Of course I did put on the Gryffindor Uniforms! You should try it on when you’re here at the USJ too! Super fun and satisfying for a Harry Potter fan like me : D
You may also fulfill your wizard dream by visiting Ollivanders to purchase the replicas of all the wands appeared in the Harry Potter movies! A wand cost about 3,200 yen here at Ollivanders.
The Hogwarts Castle at day. I especially love the view at this corner before crossing the bridge from Hogsmeade to Hogwarts Castle. Two rides are available here in the castle area, including the Flight of the Hippogriff™ and Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey™, a 4K3D show. We waited for about 30 minutes for the Flight of the Hippogriff™ and 40 minutes for the 3D rides. The Hippogriff is a kids-friendly roller coaster, I have nothing to brag about the ride. If you have to choose only one ride here in the Hogwarts castle, I would recommend the Forbidden Journey. It is like stepping into Hogwarts for real once you get into the castle — a dream come true for all Harry Potter fans.
The ride was a very immerse thrill-ride about Quidditch Game. I was amazed by the technology, and the 3D effects at first but soon after a minute of twists and turns I had to close my eyes and practise some mind control in the middle of the exciting Quidditch game where Dragon whirled by me. I can feel that few sip of the frizzy Butter Beer I had right before the ride was emerging from within. All I want was to end the ride. The remaining 2 minutes feels like eternal. It was a relief I did not puke during the ride, but it took me about 30 minutes to recover from the motion sickness. So I would say if you are not feeling well and is sensitive to motion sickness, avoid taking this ride. You may still queue with your friends and tour around the castle and tell the staff you do not wish to board the ride.
The extremely popular drink in USJ — The Butterbeer. It is a non-alcoholic drink suitable for kids. To me it is just sweetened, vanilla flavoured root beer with butterscotch-like toppings. Not a fan of this, but drinking it did increase the overall atmosphere at Hogwarts. : )
It was a 35 minutes journey from Universal Studio Osaka to Nagahoribashi Station, where our Airbnb apartment is located. It took us some time to locate the apartment as it was dark. My handphone battery went flat so I couldn’t access the detailed directions from the Airbnb app. After wandering on the streets for about 20 minutes we managed to get into the apartment and went out for our first food hunt. We settled down at a cosy little Tsukemen (つけ麺 Japanese Dipping Noodles) restaurant nearby the apartment — Nanatsuki なな月
Tsukemen ramen is a type of Japanese ramen where the noodles and soup are served on separated bowl. The soup is usually stronger and saltier than usual ramen since it serves as a dipping sauce. DO NOT drink the soup on its own. Just take a few strands of noodles and dip them in the soup bowl.
Nanatsuki’s tsukemen noodles. Cooling, fresh, and springy in texture, but easy to slurp down smoothly!
The beef broth. It has a very dense flavour, with some sweetness infused from the beef and perhaps onion. The texture of the broth was lightly pureed and very, very palatable. If the soup is too strong for your likings, you can always ask the shop to weaken it down 😉
I am considered an illiterate in Japan. lol. I don’t speak, nor I can read their language. Although my understanding of Kanji and Korean language provide me a very rough idea of what is going on in the surrounding, when it comes to Katagana, I am just helpless. So what this illiterate can tell you is that since this is a very local environment (no English is spoken at all), everything including their menu is strictly Japanese. And when their guests are 99% Japanese, this place is pretty authentic. I was hoping to go back for more springy and thick noodles, but our limited time in Osaka doesn’t really allow us to do so. Their Tantanmen 担々麺 looks extremely appetizing on the menu as well!
I feel the urge to book my next trip to Osaka and Kyoto again whenever I write about my food hunt of the trip. Stay tuned for more updates about my trip to Kansai region, Japan!
Nanatsuki Contact Details:
1-6-10, Higashishinsaibashi, Chuo-ku, Osaka
大阪府 大阪市中央區 東心齋橋 1-6-10
Close on Sunday.
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