Warner Bros. Studio Tour Tokyo, the World's Biggest Harry Potter Exhibit, Just Opened—Explore Inside
On June 16, 2023, the world’s largest indoor Harry Potter attraction, the Warner Bros. Studio Tour Tokyo, opened in the city’s Nerima ward. Just like at the original London version which opened in 2012 at the studio where the movies were made, Tokyo’s exhibition features areas dedicated to all aspects of creation of the films, ranging from sets, costumes and props, to sound effects and graphics.
But there are plenty of differences from the Britain-based tour, too, including interactive experiences only on offer in Tokyo. Thousands of items have been dusted off and displayed for the first time, and visitors will be able to find bespoke merchandise only available in what’s now the world’s largest Harry Potter store.
“Everything here at the Tokyo tour has been made by the filmmakers from the original Harry Potter films—the sets, the costumes and the props,” says Sarah Roots, Executive Vice President of Warner Bros Worldwide Tours and Retail. “These items were then loaded onto 350 shipping containers and transported to Japan.”
Even if a certain set or prop on display at the Tokyo attraction is a replica, it was still designed with the same attention to detail as the original item, which was an undertaking that brought together the Harry Potter artists once again. “For the second time in their careers, these craftsmen and women have made the same fantastic props and the same costumes,” says Sarah.
What’s more, visitors to the Tokyo tour can check out several exclusive movie sets that have never been displayed in public before (more on those later). There are also custom-made addition just for Japan’s massive Harry Potter fan base, including a pre-recorded introduction to the tour by Kensho Ono, the actor who voiced Harry Potter in Japan. But speaking Japanese isn’t required—videos have English subtitles on videos, signs carry English translations, and audio guides are available in English (and a range of other languages).
Japanese people tend to be huge fans of Harry Potter. Sign up for this studio tour and you’ll see fellow visitors dressed up as more Dumbledores, Harry Potters, and Luna Lovegoods than you can shake a stick (or wand?) at. One of the best places to catch the Harry Potter-themed cosplay is the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry Great Hall set, with its beautiful Yorkstone flooring (pictured above).
Here, visitors dressed as the film’s characters feast on treats from the Frog Café. We recommend one of the cupcakes—there are varieties to represent each of the four houses of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, each adorned with the house flag.
But a word of warning: The Great Hall’s tables are also emblazoned with each house’s flag, so expect some disapproving glances if you dare to eat your Slytherin cupcake on a table emblazoned with the Gryffindor pennant.
Thousands of Potter movie props are on display at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour Tokyo. These include replicas made by the designers responsible for the original versions and duplicates of major items (several versions were often made for multiple takes), some of which have been brought of out of storage.
You’ll see everything from wands (some 3,000 were made for the films, and every character had their own unique design) and quidditch balls to toys and musical instruments, including the instruments played by the Weird Sisters in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005).
Don’t miss the coin-operated Eyeball Bonanza Automata machine, from 2004’s Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. “One of my favorite stories relates to this gumball machine,” says Roots. “Pierre Bohanna, the head propmaker, told me that his father made the original one for the Harry Potter films, and he recreated it with his son for the Tokyo tour.”
Over 25,000 costumes were created for the eight Harry Potter films, and the dozens of pieces on display in Tokyo include the Yule Ball dress worn by Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005) and a party dress worn by Luna Lovegood (Evanna Lynch) in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009). There’s also an invisibility cloak worn by Daniel Radcliffe in the first film (2001) and several outfits worn by actors in the Fantastic Beasts spin-off films, including a garment worn by Leta Lestrange (played by Zoë Kravitz) in 2018’s Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. True Potterheads will be able to name the characters who wore the wardrobe pictured above.
This element is only available at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour Tokyo: Visitors stand in front of a mock-up of a quidditch spectator stand and are prompted to duck, cheer and boo on cue. The footage is then inserted into footage of a quidditch game on enormous screen. Other experiences which can only be found at the Tokyo attraction include the chance to design a Death Eater mask and appear in one of the portraits hanging in Hogwarts. As in London’s tour, there’s also an area where visitors can straddle a broomstick placed against a green screen to generate clips of themselves soaring over some of the films’ most famous landscapes.
Sets which you’ll only find in Tokyo, and which were built by the same craftspeople who constructed the ones used on screen, include a full-size Ministry of Magic (pictured above; London’s tour could only fit smaller portions), the Defence Against the Dark Arts Classroom, and Hogwarts’ moving staircase (which does indeed move). In the walk-through Enchanted Forest, a much larger version of the one that was added to London, clouds of smog ramp up the spookiness.
The tour heads outdoors as well. Stumbling across a life-sized replica of the Dursleys’ No. 4 Privet Drive, complete with a gnome-dotted lawn and hanging baskets, seems surreal, but wait until you step inside. Visitors can check out the cupboard in which a young Harry was forced to sleep and they can explore the cluttered kitchen, complete with overflowing sink and the remains of a Sunday lunch scattered across the countertop. One standout, just like at London’s exhibition, is an incredibly detailed model of Hogwarts you’ll see towards the end of the tour, complete with glowing windows, ornate brickwork, and miniature pine trees.
Cupcakes may be served in the Great Hall, but the Backlot Café, which is located approximately halfway through the walking tour, is just as spectacular. Offerings give a taste of British pub food in the heart of Japan, including a Forbidden Forest Salad, Gryffindor Plate (roast beef), Hufflepuff Plate (roast chicken), Ravenclaw Plate (fish pie) and Slytherin Plate (sausages and mashed potatoes), all served on color-coordinated tableware and garnished with house flags. And, of course, there’s plenty of Butterbeer on offer. At the Warner Bros. Studio Tour Tokyo, there’s only the liquid version available, although visitors can snack on special Butterbeer popcorn, too.
The Warner Bros. Studio Tour Tokyo also has the world’s largest Harry Potter shop, which for Potterheads may be reason enough to come. Souvenirs and collectibles are divided into 14 (yes, you did read correctly) sections, several of which are designed to resemble shops from the film, whether it’s Honeydukes (candy), Ollivanders, (wands), or Flourish and Blotts (books). There’s plenty of exclusive merchandise to get your hands on. That includes Chinese tea sets featuring images of the characters, who also adorn chopsticks, paper fans, and rolls of traditional Japanese washi tape.
The most popular items which you’ll only find on sale in Japan include keyrings and magnets bearing manga-style images of Harry, Ron, and Hermione. Don’t neglect the shop’s décor, either—about 7,000 more props are displayed amid the merch.
Is there a must-have item specific to Tokyo? “The headbands are selling like hot cakes,” says Roots. “It seems to a very Japanese thing. If you come in a group, everybody wears matching headbands.”
Two of Tokyo’s train stations have been given Harry Potter-themed makeovers, and they’ll be in place until 2024. At Toshimaen, which has been transformed to nod at the films’ famous Hogsmeade station, fans will recognize the beautiful clock, telephone booth, and bright red benches (albeit bearing the name Toshimaen rather than Hogsmeade). Sculptures of stags, the creatures which appear when Harry casts his powerful patronus spells, graze outside, and images of owls and trains are regularly projected onto the walls.
Most visitors arrive at the Tokyo tour arrive by train, which takes 15 minutes to from Ikebukuro station. From here it’s just a five-minute walk to the exhibition. Even the railway carriages on this train have been adorned with images of Harry, Ron, and Hermione, and Ikebukuro station has been redecorated to evoke Kings Cross’s Platform Nine and 3/5, with brick-effect wallpaper and station clocks identical to the ones from the films.
Tickets: wbstudiotour.jp/en/tickets. Prices: ¥6,300 (US $44) for adults, ¥5,200 (US $37) for ages 12–17, and ¥3,800 (US $26.79) for kids aged 4 -11. Frommer’s recommends that visitors book at least a month in advance and allow around four hours to explore the entire attraction. Wear comfortable shoes—there’s a lot of ground to cover.
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