Thursday 29 June 2023

The Biggest Harry Potter Studio Tour in the World - and the Quidditch Japan Squad

Rainy season in Japan (covered here and here in previous posts) began in earnest on June 8th in Tokyo. While tsuyu (梅雨)has a number of downsides - such as high humidity, mouldy futons, and washing that never dries - there is also one big upside: the flowering of beautiful hydrangeas (ajisai)! As the pictures below show, the deep, varied colours and intricate petals are really something.

Visiting indoor museums and exhibitions is one popular activity during these damp, sticky weeks, and Tokyo has a new attraction on offer: June 16th saw the opening of Warner Bros. Studio Tour Tokyo - The Making of Harry Potter, only the second park of its kind after the original location in the UK, and touted as Asia's first world-class Studio Tour. Located in the northwestern edge of Tokyo, the studio is built on the site of the old Toshimaen amusement park, and the area has fully embraced the change, with flags all over Nerima-Ward and a refurbished Toshimaen Station with trains featuring the main characters. 


How popular is Harry Potter in Japan? Extremely I would say, with Japan ranked as the third best area for Harry Potter fandom (after the UK and US). The stats back that up: apparently, the films have grossed more than US$893m and been seen by more than 78 million people here, while the Philosopher’s Stone remains the country’s sixth highest-grossing film of all time. On top of that, there is the Wizarding World of Harry Potter which comprises a whole section of the Universal Studios Theme Park in Osaka. And don't forget the famous Harry Potter cafe in Akasaka! In terms of content, the studio itself is identical to the UK one (I should know - I've been there twice!), with the addition of a full-scale Ministry of Magic set (replete with floo-network fireplaces!) unique to Japan. The only downside is the pricing: while the tickets themselves are not too bad (¥6,300/£35 for adults), souvenirs and snacks are shockingly expensive. The food hall, for example, boasts a selection of food "with a British twist" which made me embarrassed to be British, including a microscopic all day breakfast for ¥2,200/£12 and the saddest looking roast beef and Yorkshire pudding you'll ever see for ¥3,200/£17.50 (pictures here). And don't get me started on the Hedwig cake for ¥1500/£8 and the sludge pretending to be butter beer at ¥1,100/£6 a pop.

But this is Harry Potter, and even corporate greed cannot sully the charm and magic of the story - indeed the magic has become reality in the form of Quidditch (a fictional sport from the Harry Potter world which is now played for real!). In Japan, the sport boasts a diverse and inclusive community, and there are now eight Quidditch (now called Quadball) teams. Moreover, the Japan Quadball Association (JQA) selected national team (nicknamed "Japan Broomstars”) is currently preparing for the 5th IQA World Cup in Richmond, Virginia on July 15th and 16th. One of the team, an American working in a small town in Mie Prefecture, was recently the subject of a short segment on NHK news. Unfortunately, Japanese players going to the US, many who are students, have to fund themselves so a crowd-funding site opened up on June 12th - if you can spare a few Galleons do please support the "Broom Stars Japan" here (unfortuntely Japanese only). And as always, let me know what you think in the COMMENTS!

The Japan team uniform (left) features a comet, which is hōkiboshi in Japanese - literally broom star!


James Burgess said...

I'm proud that my granddaughter is a member of the Quidditch Japan Squad so good luck to her and the rest of the squad. Apparently Japan are unranked so let's hope they can spring a surprise. Go Japan and get those broomsticks flying!

Chris Burgess said...

Yes, a little bird tells me the Japan team are training really hard, and after the success of Japanese teams in the Asian-Pacific Quadball Cup in December, I feel confident they will spring a surprise! Incidentally, talking of broomsticks, for anyone wondering why there is a comet on the Japanese uniform, it is not only due to its resemblance to the national flag: comet in Japanese is hōkiboshi which literally means "broom-star"!!