Went to see the huge Warner Bros. Studio Tour Tokyo – The Making of Harry Potter in Oct. 2023, four months after it opened in June 16, 2023. It was better than I expected with lots and lots to see. Excellent crowd control even when the day was fully booked. Hardly any standing in line.
Conveniently located in central Tokyo near Toshimaen Station, a 15-min train ride on the Seibu Ikebukuro Line from Ikebukuro Station or on the Toei Oedo Line subway (convenient from Shinjuku and Roppongi). It is in Nerima, Tokyo. See Getting there.
This blog post shows 150 photos of the studio’s main highlights to give you a good idea of what’s there.
(ワーナーブラザース スタジオツアー東京 ‐ メイキング・オブ・ハリー・ポッター)
Contents: Introduction | Studio highlights | Great Hall | Living & Learning at Hogwarts | Quidditch | Props | Forbidden Forest | Backlot | Hogwarts Express | Fantastic Beasts | Ministry of Magic | Creatures | Broomstick flying | Diagon Alley | Hogwarts Castle | Studio Shop | History | Getting there | Other Harry Potter attractions
What is it?
- Huge, warehouse-like building exhibiting actual and replicated studio sets, props, scale models, and costumes used in one or more of the eight Harry Potter movies produced from 2001 to 2011.
- Not an amusement park or theme park. No rides. It’s a studio where you walk through a wide variety of exhibits at your own pace. It’s more like a museum. The “studio tour” is a self-guided tour, no human tour guides except at the tour entrance.
- Includes interactive activities to film yourself in movie sets for downloadable videos or photos (free and paid).
- Shop at the largest Harry Potter gift shop in the world. The Studio Shop includes items exclusive to Tokyo. Tour tickets are required to enter the store.
- Cafes and restaurants serve Harry Potter-themed food and drinks.
- This is only the second Harry Potter Studio Tour in the world, after the London studio tour opened in 2012. Although the Tokyo studio has similar exhibits as the London studio, it has things exclusive to Tokyo. The Tokyo studio (30,000 m2) is also much larger than the London studio (14,000 m2).
The studio is educational and fun for students. It shows the Making of Harry Potter, and you learn about movie-making and the behind-the-scenes work that goes into movie productions. Set design and construction, special makeup (goblins, etc.), visual effects (green screens), sound effects, scale models, animal actors, animatronics, etc., etc. Amazing ideas, hard work, and meticulous craftsmanship by so many talented people, like magic. The studio offers school discounts to school groups of 20 or more including free admission for accompanying teachers. The studio even offers lessons to students about movie making.
What to know…
- Tour reservations and ticket purchases are required in advance through the official website. No tickets are sold at the door. Reserve your desired date and entry time at least a few weeks in advance. Otherwise, your desired tour date/time might already be fully booked. Tickets cannot be changed or refunded.
- Hours: Operating hours vary depending on the season. Studio doors usually open at 8:30 a.m., and the first tour entry time is 9:00 a.m. or 9:30 a.m. The last tour entry time is around 3:30 p.m., and the studio tour closes at around 7:30 p.m. They want you to arrive at least 20 min. before the start of your tour. You can see the current operating hours when you make tour reservations.
- Tickets for adults (18+) are ¥6,300, age 12–17 ¥5,200, age 4–11 ¥3,800, and under age 4 free. No paper tickets are issued, digital tickets only. Need a smartphone or tablet to show your digital ticket QR code to enter.
- Allow at least four hours to tour the studio including cafe breaks and shopping.
- There’s a bag search at the entrance. Don’t bring any cutting instruments like knives or scissors, alcoholic drinks, pets or other animals. Other prohibited items and actions here.
- There’s a cloakroom near the entrance where you can store coats, bags, and luggage for free.
- Taking photos and videos is allowed in most areas (no flash or video lights). Selfie sticks, tripods, monopods, and drones are not allowed.
- Free Wi-fi available.
- Best to start the tour in the morning when it’s less crowded. The afternoon may become more crowded with the lingering morning crowd combining with visitors coming in the afternoon. You’ll also have more leisurely time in the studio, including a cafe/butterbeer/meal break and gift shopping. There’s no time limit to exit before the closing time.
- Effective crowd control with only a limited number of visitors allowed in at each time slot. Hardly any standing in line, at least in the morning.
- The exhibits are well captioned in native English and Japanese (translation of the English). Digital audio guides in English or Japanese can be rented (¥1,300) to hear more details about each exhibit. There’s also a studio guide book available in the Studio Shop.
- If you have a Harry Potter costume, wear it to the studio like many other visitors.
- Since most everything is indoors, rainy days should not be a major problem.
- Most everything is wheelchair accessible.
- The studio is within Nerima Joshi Park which used to be the site of Nerima Castle. Almost nothing is left of the castle, but cherry blossoms bloom in late March.
- While walking through the park to the studio, look for the large sculpture of Harry Potter’s eyeglasses.
- To celebrate the opening of the Harry Potter Tokyo studio in June 2023, the United Cinemas Toshimaen movie theater complex next to Toshimaen Station is showing all eight Harry Potter movies one after another from June 16, 2023 to Feb. 1, 2024. Each movie plays for about a month. However, all the films are dubbed in Japanese. Schedule here.
- Also near Toshimaen Station is a hot spring facility named Toshimaen Niwa-no-yu. Looks like a great place for an outdoor bath and Finnish sauna. No tattoos allowed though.
Watch/rewatch Harry Potter movies before you go…
Before visiting the studio, I highly recommend watching or rewatching Harry Potter movies. You can then better recognize or remember the many characters, creatures, stories, studio sets, props, costumes, vocabulary, and movie scenes displayed in the studio.
The studio tour exhibits sets, props, and scenes from each of the eight Harry Potter movies. We saw the first movie over 20 years ago and the last movie came out over 10 years ago. So it would be good to refresh your memory by rewatching/watching the movies. The final and eighth movie (Deathly Hallows Part 2) was a great climax and conclusion too. (In Japan, Amazon Prime has all Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts movies available in English renting for ¥199 each.)
About Harry Potter…
In case you were born yesterday, Harry Potter is a series of fantasy novels by British author J.K. Rowling. They have been made into a series of eight Harry Potter movies from 2001 to 2011 starring Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter, Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley, Emma Watson as Hermione Granger, and Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy. They all started off as child actors around age 10 or 11, and we watched them grow older in the movies during the 10 years. Although they got tired of their roles after a few movies, they managed to stick with it together and came through with an astounding British movie series.
The setting is modern Great Britain with most all the actors being British (as required by the author) and most everyone speaking British English. The stories are about child wizards and witches studying magic at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry housed in Hogwarts Castle.
All the while, they have all kinds of adventures, conflicts, and struggles dealing with magic, non-magic people, evil beings, rivalries, competition, prejudice, friendship, love, rule breaking, and fantasy creatures. There are so many characters, creatures, implements, magic spells, and special vocabulary that it can be overwhelming. Can’t fit everything in the novels into the movies, so some things are inevitably truncated or omitted or not understandable unless you read the novel or movie synopsis. The special effects in the movies are dazzling and the studio tour shows great examples of how it’s done.
*The information and images in this blog post are current as of November 2023. Check the official website for the latest info.
Lobby and tour entrance straight ahead as a Hungarian Horntail, a dragon native to Hungary, greets you high above.
The entrance lobby has digital audio guides (left) for rent (not essential) and Information counter and Cloakroom to store coats, bags, etc., for free.
Near the entrance is also the Frog Cafe (coffee and confections) and Food Hall (with floating candles) for British food in case you’re hungry before or after the studio tour. The Backlot Cafe halfway in the tour is also popular.
What are the studio highlights?
The main highlights are shown in the pictures below. These photos don’t show everything. Just a sample of what’s there. (Click on thumbnails to enlarge the photo.)
The tour starts in a room of animated movie posters where they explain a few rules. They also tell you how to register your QR code on your smartphone with your email address. This is highly recommended, so you can do the interactive activities and download free videos of yourself.
Then we go to the doors of the Great Hall where they let a lucky visitor push open the doors to enter…
The Great Hall of Hogwarts (大広間)
The studio tour starts with the most recognized movie set, The Great Hall in Hogwarts Castle. Lots of oohs and ahhs here. This was the Hogwarts dining and meeting room. Two long rows of dining tables have tableware and signboards indicating the dining areas for students in the four Houses: Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin. This room also displays the robes and uniforms worn by students in each House. A Japanese staff person gives a brief explanation of the Great Hall in Japanese.
The Great Hall measures 12 meters by 36 meters. Modeled after the Hall of Christ Church, Oxford University. Only the ceiling is not like in the movies, and there are no floating candles or flying owls.
Left: Tableware in the Gryffindor section with their robes displayed behind.
Right: The head table has mannequins of the main professors.
L-R: At the Great Hall’s head table, Albus Dumbledore, Hogwarts headmaster; Minerva McGonagall (next to Sorting Hat), Hogwarts Transfiguration professor, Head of Gryffindor House, Deputy Headmistress of Hogwarts; and Severus Snape, potions professor and later Defence Against the Dark Arts professor at Hogwarts and Head of Slytherin House.
Living at Hogwarts (ホグワーツ・ライフ)
Another impressive room is the Hogwarts Marble Staircase which actually moves (swivels) like in the movies. We cannot go up the stairs though. A few of the oil painting portraits also move.
Moving portrait experience: Next to the Marble Staircase, you can be a moving portrait too. The studio’s first interactive experience has booths with different backgrounds to film yourself for 15 seconds. Let the camera scan your QR code on your phone to start filming. Then smile and make goofy gestures. (Don’t make any obscene/stupid gestures because the other visitors and staff will see it too.) Your short video will soon appear on one of the framed oil paintings on the staircase wall in a looping video (no sound). Take pictures/videos of your moving portrait.
You can later download the video for free. Amusing. (Interactive activities are optional, but highly recommended that you do it.)
Gryffindor boys’ dormitory. The bed length remained the same even as the actors grew into adults during the 10 years of movie making.
Common Rooms with headless mannequins wearing the actors’ costumes. The Gryffindor Common Room has a portrait of Professor McGonagall on the left wall. In the Slytherin Common Room, the mannequin on the left wears Draco’s costume.
Dumbledore’s Office is another impressive studio set. On the left on the cabinet is Gryffindor’s Sword in a glass case. On the right on the floor is Dumbledore’s Memory Cabinet containing vials of his memories. The portraits are of the 48 former Hogwarts headmasters/mistresses.
Closer look at Dumbledore’s Office complete with his pet phoenix Fawkes which moves and squeals (animatronic). His office was in a high tower of Hogwarts Castle accessible by the Griffin Stairwell on the right. Immobile here, but it spiraled upward in the movie.
Learning at Hogwarts (ホグワーツ・レッスン)
Left: Potions Classroom supposed to be in the basement dungeon for a cold environment. Over 1,000 bottles of potions line the walls. They contain all kinds of stuff. Very elaborate set in multiple rooms.
Right: Library. (Don’t touch the books.)
Defence Against the Dark Arts Classroom. There was a wand-waving lesson to defeat a Death Eater (right) on the balcony.
On left is the costume worn by Ron and a chest of Quidditch balls. On the right are more Quidditch player uniforms. Draco Malfoy wears green, Cedric Diggory in yellow, and Harry in red.
Quidditch filming experience: We visitors could act as spectators at a Quidditch match between Griffindore and Slytherin. We stood on the sideline of the Quidditch field and followed the staff’s instructions to cheer and boo as we were filmed for a 30-sec. video.
The finished video included of real movie footage of Harry Potter in a Quidditch match with Slytherin interjected with moments of us cheering or booing in the spectator stands. Hilarious. We could watch the resulting video almost immediately. Video was free to download later.
Japan actually has Quidditch teams and even a Japan Quidditch Association. The name of the sport has been changed to “quadball.”
L-R: Nimbus 2000 and Nimbus 2001 Quidditch broomsticks; Goblet of Fire, hand carved from English Elm; and Mirror of Erised which reflects the deepest, most desperate desire of your heart. Harry saw his parents in this mirror, and I saw only myself.
For the movie actors, the broomsticks were custom-designed and fitted for each person. The stick was a solid metal pole strong enough to support the actor sitting on it in front of green screens.
Left: Thirty-three wands of all the wizards and witches, including the most powerful Elder Wand (No. 1).
Right: Triwizard Cup and golden egg from Goblet of Fire.
Forbidden Forest (禁じられた森)
Centaurs are guardians of the Forbidden Forest. Facial features are more horse-like than human. Dementors (evil beings) also fly around in the Forbidden Forest.
Hagrid (half giant) and Buckbeak the Hippogriff (animatronic) in the Forbidden Forest. Buckbeak is a white, horse-like golden eagle. Hagrid had so many amazing pets at his beck and call. (バックビーク)
Giant spider Aragog the Acromantula in his lair in the Forbidden Forest. Hagrid raised Aragog, so it never attacks Hagrid. But when Harry and Ron wander nearby, Aragog says in British English and Japanese, “My sons and daughters do not harm Hagrid, but I cannot deny my sons and daughters fresh meat when it wanders so willingly into our midst. Goodbye, friends of Hagrid.” The children spiders then chase Harry and Ron. Aragog also moves (animatronic), the legs and even the eyeballs move. (アラゴグ)
In Chamber of Secrets, they used five of these Flying Cars in various degrees of damage before Harry and Ron finally crashed it in the forest. Harry and Ron also used the car to escape Aragog’s spiders in the forest. Impressive exhibit, especially if you like classic cars. It’s a Ford Anglia made by Ford UK in the 1960s. The headlights are turned on and a smoke machine makes the smoke.
In the middle of the tour, just when you’re ready to sit and have butterbeer or lunch, there’s the outdoor Backlot. Nice sunshine and fresh-air break from the indoor studio tour. The Backlot has outdoor exhibits and the Backlot Cafe and Butterbeer Bar.
Photo op: In the Backlot, pose inside the Flying Car. One of the few spots where I saw people standing in line. Entrance to the Backlot Cafe can be seen on the left.
Hagrid’s Hut is also in the Backlot. Very cluttered inside and pretty cramped for a half giant. Notice his dog Fang. (ハグリッドの小屋)
Backlot Cafe for lunch. Located halfway through the studio tour. Menu includes the priciest Griffindor Plate (roast beef) for ¥3,200, Forbidden Forest Salad (¥1,300), Aunt Petunia’s Victoria Sponge Cake (¥1,000), Hedwig Cake (¥1,500), coffee/tea (¥500), and Pumpkin Soup (¥400), the cheapest item.
Butterbeer Bar for non-alcoholic butterbeer (¥1,100), coffee/tea (¥500), and salted popcorn (¥700). Butterbeer tastes like butterscotch, slightly fizzy/carbonated with a buttery froth on the top. Butterscotch is not a widely familiar flavor in Japan. It’s good though. Comes in a plastic mug (tankard) which you can wash afterward in the sink and take home in a plastic bag. (バタービール)
4 Privet Drive (Dursley residence)
Full-scale replica of the house where Harry lived with his adoptive relatives, the Dursleys. You can enter and tour the first floor. (Second floor is closed.) For the living room (above right photo), the set decorator selected the ugliest sofas (ha-ha!). Seen here filled with Hogwarts school acceptance letters (delivered by owls) addressed to Harry after the Dursleys kept throwing away the letter before Harry could receive it. Hilarious scene in The Philosopher’s Stone. Special effects crew used pressurized air devices to blow a stream of 10,000 letters into the home. It wasn’t CGI!
Harry’s closet-like room in the Dursley home named Cupboard under the Stairs.
Right: The stairs overhead where Harry’s cousin Dudley Dursley would stomp on to annoy Harry below. (Stairs were closed to visitors.)
One of the most hilarious and unforgettable scenes in Harry Potter. In Prisoner of Azkaban, Aunt Marge at dinner with the Dursleys angers Harry who inflates her into a balloon that floats out of the house and into the sky. She was unaware that Harry was a wizard. Otherwise, why mess with a wizard? The actress (Pam Ferris) actually wore an inflatable bodysuit and it wasn’t CGI. Luckily, her clothing could magically stretch that much without ripping off. (Video clip here.)
Hogwarts Bridge was created for the movies. Does not appear in the original novels. Only a small section is replicated here outside near the Privet Drive house.
Three-decker Knight Bus complete with beds and a swinging chandelier above. It drives up whenever a wizard or witch needs urgent transportation like when it picked up Harry after he got fed up and moved out of Privet Drive (Prisoner of Azkaban). Didn’t see the talking, shrunken head though. (夜の騎士バス)
The bus was custom-made from a real double-decker bus (AEC Regent III RT) whose top was cut off to add another deck before reattaching the top.
Left: Giant chess pieces protecting the Philosopher’s Stone. Stationary and non-explosive.
Right: From the Backlot, the studio tour continues this way as we go back inside to see…
Hogwarts Express train on Platform 9¾ (9と¾番線)
The second half of the tour started with more oohs and ahhs and hoots at the impressive Hogwarts Express train on Platform 9¾ modeled after King’s Cross Station in London. Another centerpiece movie set big enough to be a real train station.
The full-scale train is the same make and model (GWR 4900 Class 5972 Olton Hall) as the original one displayed at the London studio. The train is stationary, but you can enter the passenger carriage and see passenger compartments.
This official video shows how they transported the train to the studio and installed it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kyCH3ZJL0VM
Photo op: Through the Wall. Push a baggage cart into the wall to enter Platform 9¾. There’s staff to take your photo too. At the real King’s Cross Station in London, there’s a wall labeled “Platform 9¾” where there’s a similar wall-embedded luggage cart for a free photo op.
Enter the Hogwarts Express train carriage and see the passenger compartments. We cannot enter the compartments. Just look through the compartment windows while walking through the corridor.
The exterior windows are video monitors showing the passing scenery, including a chocolate frog that gets blown away. The compartment on the left shows Ron and Harry feasting on a pile of sweets. That’s when the chocolate frog jumped out. Impressive how the train car was restored.
Platform 9¾ also has this set from Fantastic Beasts, a trilogy of films released from 2016 to 2022 as a spin-off prequel to the Harry Potter films. The main character, Newt Scamander (played by Eddie Redmayne), is a British wizard in the 1920-30s who is a zoologist of magical creatures and keeps a collection of them in his suitcase which is actually a magical zoo of fantastic beasts.
A major difference from the Harry Potter films is that the main characters are adults, not kids. I missed the free spirit and innocent world view of young wizards and witches.
The series is also more international with movie settings in countries other than the UK: America (New York), France (Paris), Germany (Berlin), and Bhutan. The British-only actors rule doesn’t apply to Fantastic Beasts, and the British accent is not as prominent anymore.
Asians are still under-represented though, and J.K. Rowling deciding to have an Asian woman to be an evil creature (won’t mention which) doesn’t bode well among Asians. Best not to offend your major markets. But at least two Asian creatures are mentioned, the Chinese qilin and Japanese kappa in The Secrets of Dumbledore.
The special effects and CGI are dazzling, but they and the accompanying sound effects are now too routine and repetitive. Lightning bolts shooting from wands, wholesale destruction of buildings and streets, numerous pieces of paper spinning/flying in the air, things burning up, etc. We’ve seen and heard it all before except for the fantastic creatures. The films seemed to be driven more by the special effects instead of the story. The genocide theme of magic people wanting to exterminate non-magic people (muggles) on the pretext of being a superior race is quite chilling and overly evil. Might make kids afraid of magicians, Halloween witches, and the Wizard of Oz.
As of this writing, there are no plans for additional Fantastic Beasts films.
London Ministry of Magic, Atrium (ロンドン魔法省)
Full-scale London Ministry of Magic, unique to the Tokyo studio. Handmade movie set on 900 sq. meters using 30,000 green and red lacquered wooden tiles. The original set during filming took 22 weeks to construct. This set looks as it appeared in Deathly Hallows Part 1.
In the center is the “Magic is Might” monument depicting Muggles (non-magical people) crushed under the weight of a witch and wizard atop a marble column. It was installed by the Death Eaters (evil allies of Dark Lord Voldemort) when they took over the Ministry.
Floo Network experience: People usually commute to the Ministry of Magic through the Floo Network where they arrive in green flames in a large fireplace. This is another interactive activity where you walk out of the fireplace’s Floo powder flames upon arrival. The fireplace with dark green tiles is real, but the green flames are added with CGI. You can later download the short video for free.
Voldemort, The Dark Lord, and his snake Nagini. Each time one of his Horcruxes was destroyed, his greenish robe would fade in color (Deathly Hallows).
Left: Animal actors included multiple owls for Hedwig, Harry’s owl.
Right: The hilarious and finger-biting Monster Book of Monsters. It moves.
Realistic makeup on a Gringotts Bank teller goblin (ゴブリン) and Hagrid’s giant half-brother, Grawp.
Broomstick flying experience (ほうきエクスペリエンス)
The final interactive activity was broomstick flying. It looks like a ride, but the broomstick is just a stationary prop you sit on and be filmed in a green screen booth. You sit on a small seat attached to the broomstick. There’s also a foot rest for your feet.
The staff tells you when to sway left or right, when to wave, when to reach out your hand to catch the Golden Snitch, etc. The resulting 70-sec. video shows you flying fast on a broomstick amid different background scenery like city streets, Quidditch field, and Hogwarts Castle. To make it look more realistic, they should have a fan blowing in front of the broomstick to blow your hair and clothing in the wind. (See this person’s broomstick video.)
Pretty cool, but they charge ¥3,500 to download the broomstick video (without watermarks). They also take photos of your broomstick ride and charge ¥3,500 for five photos (including the “Undesirable No. 1” poster photo). Total ¥7,000 which is more expensive than the studio admission. Couldn’t help but to get sticker shock after the three previous interactive experience videos (moving portrait, Quidditch spectating, and Floo Network) were free (Full HD quality).
You can view your broomstick flying video and photos on your smartphone, but they are entirely watermarked (photo above). If you don’t buy the video/photos at the studio, you can still buy and download them online later within one month minus the watermarks. If you come dressed as a wizard/witch, it might be worth buying the broomstick video, but I was not suitably dressed for a flying broom and declined. Would rather spend the money on another Harry Potter attraction elsewhere.
Diagon Alley (ダイアゴン横丁)
Diagon Alley is where the young wizards and witches buy their school supplies. The shops are just a facade, and we cannot enter any of them. Window shopping only. Good spot for selfies if you’re wearing wizard/witch robes. Gringotts Bank (with goblin workers) has a facade, but we cannot enter it like at the Harry Potter London studio which has a full-size replica of the bank’s interior.
Owls for sale at Diagon Alley. Do you see Hedwig (Harry’s owl)? At least four different owls were used to play Hedwig. Available as stuffed toys in the gift shop later…
Hogwarts Castle (ホグワーツ城の模型)
The studio tour ends with a large, replicated scale model of Hogwarts Castle with alternating night and day illuminations. Detailed, handcrafted model with fiber optics used for the castle lights. In the movies, a scale model like this one was used with CGI backgrounds. We can walk around the model. I wondered where the Great Hall was.
Studio Shop (スタジオツアーショップ)
After exiting the studio, you enter the Studio Shop, the world’s largest Harry Potter gift shop. Some items are Tokyo exclusive, available only here. You still need to buy studio tour tickets to enter the gift shop. I think they should also allow the public to shop in the gift shop. It’s not worth buying a studio tour ticket just to replenish my butterbeer supply or buy occasional birthday or Christmas gifts.
The shop accepts cash, credit cards, and Apple/Google Pay. No ATMs on site. No delivery service is offered, but you could go to a convenience store or post office near the train/subway station to ship stuff.
The Studio Shop sells Harry Potter clothing (robes, hoodies, etc.), lots of wands, stuffed toys (owls, dragons, spiders, mice, etc.), confections, and even brooms. You have a choice of 7,000+ products.
Studio Shop rooms guarded by Fawkes the phoenix and Voldemort’s snake Nagini.
Wands and more wands. Buy the wand of your favorite wizard or witch for ¥4,600. You can also engrave your name on the wand. When I was there, the Slytherin wand was sold out.
Hogwarts robes and Tokyo-exclusive hoodies. Robes can be personalized with your name. When I was there, this Tokyo hoodie was available only in Extra Small.
Small stuffed toys: Hedwig (Harry’s owl), Fawkes the phoenix, and Dobby the beloved elf. Made by Sekiguchi, a major Japanese toy maker famous for Monchicchi.
Bottled “Tokyo Special” butterbeer (¥1,000) and chocolate frogs are among the many edibles in the Studio Shop.
Harry Potter Tokyo studio history
The Harry Potter Tokyo studio is on the site of the defunct Toshimaen amusement and water park that closed in Aug. 2020 after 94 years of operation since 1926. It was owned by Seibu Railways.
In 2011, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government wanted to acquire the Toshimaen land from Seibu Railways and close the amusement park to convert the land into a public park for use as an emergency evacuation zone for local residents. Seibu Railways still wasn’t ready to acquiesce.
It wasn’t until 2019 when Toshimaen acquisition negotiations restarted together with a proposal from Warner Brothers to build the Harry Potter studio in its place. ITOCHU Corporation, a major Japanese trading company, had proposed to have the Harry Potter studio built at Toshimaen. Seibu finally agreed to close Toshimaen.
The Toshimaen site was selected for its central location, greenery, and its long amusement history. Plans for the studio was announced in June 2020 when Seibu Railways announced the closure of Toshimaen. The park closed on Aug. 31, 2020 and the amusement park rides were mostly dismantled by April 2021. Most of us thought it was another victim of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Tokyo government started constructing the public park, named Nerima Joshi Park (練馬城址公園), as planned and opened the completed section on May 1, 2023. The southern part of the park which had the Toshimaen waterpark (dismantled in 2023) will reopen in 2029.
The Harry Potter Tokyo studio took two years of construction by Taisei Corporation and opened on June 16, 2023 in the northern part of Nerima Joshi Park. Movie actors attending the grand opening included Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy), Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood), and Matthew Lewis (Neville Longbottom). (Both Tom and Evanna were also the celebrity guests at the grand opening of Universal Studios Japan’s Harry Potter attraction in July 2014.) They joined Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike and other officials to open the studio entrance with magic wands before hordes of cheering Potter fans entered and enjoyed the studio’s first day. Ticket reservations were fully booked at least three months in advance.
While the Harry Potter London studio first opened in March 2012 and later expanded in phases to add Platform 9¾ (Hogwarts Express) in 2015 and the Forbidden Forest in March 2017, the Tokyo studio built and opened both Platform 9¾ and the Forbidden Forest from the start.
Unless additional attractions or more entertainment are added (like at Universal Studios Japan), I wonder if there will be a significant market for repeat visitors other than maniacal Potterheads. The education market would be promising for the studio which introduces many vocational fields such as costume and fashion design, set design, woodworking, model making, visual effects, sound effects, and robotics/animatronics. Harry Potter does fit in well in Japan, a land of cosplayers, anime, and other fantasies.
Perhaps the only downside is that the London studio may now see fewer visitors from Japan or Asia.
The Harry Potter Tokyo studio is conveniently located in central Tokyo, near Toshimaen Station (豊島園駅), about 15 minutes from Ikebukuro Station by train on the Seibu Ikebukuro Line. Take the train that goes to Toshimaen Station (end of the line) and not any train that goes elsewhere. Otherwise, you’ll have to transfer trains at Nerima Station along the way.
The Toei Oedo Line subway also has a Toshimaen Station, convenient if you’re coming from Shinjuku or Roppongi. Paid car parking is also available near the studio.
Toshimaen Station on the Seibu Ikebukuro Line has been given a bold-red Harry Potter makeover, complete with a red telephone box and a small locomotive which was originally used at Toshimaen amusement park. The station mimicks Hogsmeade Station, the end of the line of the Hogwarts Express. The station name is now a misnomer since Toshimaen no longer exists.
The phone in the red telephone box works, but you only hear a simple recorded message like “Welcome.” It’s not a payphone and you cannot call anyone.
From Toshimaen Station, it’s a short walk through Nerima Joshi Park (練馬城址公園) to the Harry Potter studio entrance. You might see a large sculpture of Harry Potter’s round glasses and Nagini snake sculpture along the way. Just follow the crowd.
Studio address and map:
Warner Bros. Studio Tour Tokyo
1-1-7 Kasugacho, Nerima-ku, Tokyo, Japan
Other Harry Potter attractions in Japan
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan, Osaka
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park attraction at Universal Studios Japan (USJ) in Osaka has rides, shows, a large model of Hogwarts Castle, Hogsmeade village in snow, Hogwarts Express locomotive, and a crashed Flying Car.
Since it opened in July 2014, it no doubt helped USJ become one of the most popular theme parks in the world, on par with Tokyo Disneyland.
In 2022, USJ actually saw more visitors (12.35 million) than Tokyo Disneyland (12 million). It has relentlessly added or replaced major attractions since it opened in March 2001.
The Harry Potter studio tour in Tokyo and USJ’s The Wizarding World of Harry Potter are not competitors. They are totally different kinds of attractions, so they cannot be considered rivals. They actually complement each other well. One is a theme park centering entertainment and physical thrills, while the other is more educational and visually and mentally stimulating. Harry Potter fans would most definitely go to both. And if you go to one, you would naturally want to see the other one too.
Harry Potter in Akasaka, Tokyo
Tokyo also has other Harry Potter hotspots. They are near Akasaka Station on the Chiyoda Line subway. (Not to be confused with Asakusa.) First see Akasaka Station’s main stairway going up to the street level (near Exit 3b). It has been converted into the Harry Potter Staircase (Wizarding World Gate) decorated with 42 oil paintings on both walls and a giant Time-Turner (worked like a time machine to go back in time).
Nearby in front of Akasaka Biz Tower is Wizarding World Street with the Harry Potter Cafe (inside Akasaka Biz Tower) and a Harry Potter gift shop called Harry Potter Mahou Dokoro. The street is festooned with banners of the four Hogwarts Houses. The cafe is quite busy, so reservations are necessary. It serves Harry Potter-themed meals and desserts different from the eateries at the Tokyo studio. It’s decorated with a giant wand inside, 3.5 meters long. The gift shop may limit entry if it gets too crowded. It seems to sell merch not found in the Tokyo Studio Shop.
All this has popped up in Akasaka since June 16, 2022 ahead of the July 8, 2022 opening of a long-run Harry Potter Japanese stage production called Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at TBS Akasaka ACT Theater which is also near Akasaka Station.
The play is a continuation of the final Harry Potter film, Deathly Hallows Part 2 which ends with a scene 19 years later when the young children of Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Draco are sent to Hogwarts on the Hogwarts Express at King’s Cross Station. (Yes, they all got married, but I won’t mention who they married in case you haven’t seen the movie.)
We might as well call it Harry Potter, the Next Generation. All the actors are Japanese and they speak Japanese. Apparently, the movies’ British-only actor rule doesn’t apply to the stage production. Tickets range from ¥7,000 to ¥19,000. (Also currently being staged in London, New York, and Hamburg.)
And so all the Harry Potter attractions in Japan and the world has something unique. That’s the way it should be, to make each one worth visiting. Nice that there’s something that doesn’t belong to Disney.✨⚡️
Contents: Introduction (page top) | Studio highlights | Great Hall | Living & Learning at Hogwarts | Quidditch | Props | Forbidden Forest | Backlot | Hogwarts Express | Ministry of Magic | Creatures | Broomstick flying | Diagon Alley | Hogwarts Castle | Studio Shop | History | Getting there | Other Harry Potter attractions | More studio photos