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Thursday, October 20, 2016

Things to Do in Universal Studios Osaka, Japan


What does it feel like being Harry Potter for a day? Or chasing bad guys hopping from one building to the next ala Spidey? All that plus a lot more becomes a reality inside the magical world of Universal Studios in Osaka, Japan. Japan has become a popular travel destination for Filipinos in recent years mainly because of the appeal of its rich culture and traditions, sumptuous cuisines, efficient mass transport system, neat cities and theme parks that blows your mind with unending thrills and excitement.


Dotted across the land of the rising sun are countless parks with themed attractions and one of the biggest draw is the Universal Studios in Osaka, Japan. Referred to as “USJ”; it has achieved a reputation that matches – if not exceeded, even the Universal Studios in the United States. Because of the many attractions to be experienced inside USJ, a day trip here becomes a necessary fix to bring in an added splice of exhilaration to your Osaka jaunt.

Travel bloggers part of Cebu Pacific’s FamTour of Osaka
Here are the things to do and experience in Universal Studios Osaka, Japan.

1. Pay a Visit to the Village of Hogsmeade

Plucked from J.K. Rowling’s imagination of the famed wizards’ village, visitors will instantly feel the vibe of the Harry Potter universe. Complete with houses, lakes, a train and the Hogwarts Castle, everything you have read in the book series comes to life in this magical world built inside the 39 hectare Universal Studios property.

One of the many houses that adorns the Hogsmeade Village in USJ
Harry Potter souvenir items floods the tiny streets of this make believe village. Shop, stroll and cap the day with a plateful of Hogwarts meal and a mug of Butterbeer at the Three Broomsticks restaurant.

2. Ride the Harry Potter Forbidden Journey 4K3D

A visit to Hogsmeade will not be complete without playing the role of Harry Potter and his friends by setting out on a ‘forbidden journey’. Laying out a groundbreaking 4K3D technology, this popular Universal Studios’ ride dishes an almost real sensation of flying all over Hogwarts Castle. The fantastic visuals that swarms with reality appearing as an almost hologram-like scene, coupled with the thrilling movements of the ride, gives you all the sensation of reliving the Harry Potter universe accurately.

The Hogwarts Castle. Inside is the Harry Potter Forbidden Journey 4K3D
3. Overcome your Fear by Riding the Jurassic Park: The Flying Dinosaur

Opened in March 2016 to mark the 15th anniversary of Universal Studios Japan, this ride is regarded as the ‘world’s longest flying roller-coaster’ because it literally let you ride it as if a dinosaur is clutching your back – thereby giving you every chance of experiencing the thrills and sensations of being airborne in all sorts of positions and movements; upside down and reverse. By combining the elements of a heart stopping roller coaster ride; a lengthy course designed to deliver increased rises and steep drops and the massive G-force it generates, makes this a must-experience ride inside Universal Studios Osaka.

4. Have a Dose of Scream-Fest

What do you do when you get a double dosage of Japanese and Hollywood Horror genre? There is only one way to find out; which is to gather all your courage and walk inside a number of horror houses located inside Universal Studios Japan.

5. Experience the Exorcist, Trauma, Tatari and the Japanese Horror Area

These are just a few in the many scary but fun attractions situated inside USJ. Enter one, two or all of these horror areas with your friends by holding a rope together and try to reach the end without being separated from each other. Screaming in horror together also provides another level of fun.

Inside the house of Tatari
6. Catch Some Bad Guys with Spidey (Spiderman 4D3D)

Equally enthralling as Harry Potter’s Forbidden Journey 4D3D ride, the Spiderman 4D3D ride delivers an action-packed make believe reality by showing you a first person view from Spiderman himself. Expect a bedazzling array of movements and visuals that comes to life as if you are really Spiderman leaping from one building to another.

7. Sample All Kinds of Food

Theme parks such as Universal Studios certainly attracts a horde of food establishments serving a variety of worldwide cuisines. Discovering a new dish becomes a welcome adventure. Such examples such as the sword-like Matcha Churros which becomes a handy bite while walking around, while the huge BBQ Garlic Turkey Leg – a signature dish of USJ, gives you a mighty filling to last the day.

The ‘Halloween Meal’ dishes a sumptuous blend of flavors. This is just one of the many food choices in USJ
8. Spot Cosplayers

Japan has a very mesmerizing cosplay culture and this is clearly in display in the grounds of Universal Studios Osaka. Spot men and women adorned with colorful costumes of anime, movie and pop culture characters as they walk around. Ask them politely to take a picture and they would smilingly oblige. Yes, another Instragram-worthy snap.

Just one of the many cosplayers you will see inside Universal Studios Japan
9. Party in the Streets at USJ’s Seasonal and Holiday Themes

Each holiday, Universal Studios Osaka stages grand street parades and nightly activities that perfectly matches with the seasons of the year. In the month of September, the Halloween theme kicks off with a festive street party and highlighted by a zombie invasion during the night. Partying and participating in this holiday events elevates your experience inside USJ into a higher level of fun.

The grounds of USJ went wild during the street parade and party that starts in the early afternoon
10. Shop and Ride Some More

When in Universal Studios Japan the routine should always be; ride, eat, shop and repeat. Novelty shops selling souvenir items of your favorite movie franchises and pop-culture icons are available at reasonable prices. The rest of Universal Studios Japan offers many other exciting rides for the whole family. A day’s stroll into this happy place brings forth a wonderful bonding session for your family, friends or even a significant other.

A wide range of quirky cafes and restaurants can be seen inside USJ.
How to Get to Universal Studios Osaka… From Manila… By plane

Cebu Pacific, the largest airline in the Philippines, flies between Manila and Osaka five times weekly, with lowest year-round fares starting from PHP6,399. Cebu Pacific also flies from Manila to Tokyo (Narita), Nagoya and Fukuoka, as well as from Cebu to Tokyo (Narita). Book its trademark lowest fares now through Cebu Pacific or (+632)7020888, or follow its Facebook or Twitter pages for the latest seat sales.

From Osaka City Proper… By train

Universal Studios Japan can be quickly reached via the JR Yumesaki Line (also called as the ‘JR Sakurajima line’) by alighting at the Universal City Station. From Osaka Station you can take several trains that will connect you to the JR Yumesaki Line for only 180-240 Yen. When coming from Kansai Airport, take a JR rapid airport train to Nishikujo Station to transfer to the JR Yumesaki Line to take you to Universal City Station.

From Osaka City Proper… By bus

Kansai Airport serves a bus route to Universal Studios Japan for approximately 1-hour trip and 1,550 Yen bus fare. There are also overnight city buses across Japan that stops at Universal Studios Osaka.
Universal Studios Ticket Pass… 1 Day USJ Pass
7, 400 Yen (adults)
4, 980 Yen (for kids ages 4-11)
6, 650 Yen (senior citizens 65 years and up)
Universal Studios Ticket Pass… 2 Day USJ Pass
12, 450 Yen (adults)
8, 420 Yen (kids)

To avoid going on long lines, you can purchase a slightly expensive Express Pass to skip the queues on a number of attractions.

 *    I first wrote this article for Taste.Company and it appeared on its website on October 3, 2016 *

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