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Disney & Universal Studios

Among Disniacs, Tokyo Disneyland and the newer DisneySea are often cited as the pinnacle of the Disney experience. Popular with visitors of all ages, it’s not uncommon to see couples as well as families enjoying days out in these extraordinary parks. Not to be outdone, Osaka boasts the excellent Universal Studios Japan that looks and feels like a little slice of Hollywood amplified by modern Japanese culture.

These high-energy, super-sized, and extremely Americanised attractions are definitely not for everyone, and we certainly don’t recommend them to all. However, for families and those keen to experience a different side to modern Japan, they provide a strong dose of sensory overload and star-struck fun.

Some might grimace a little at the thought of including such an American-imported experience in their Japan travels, but this is an authentic Japan of a different kind; one that explores the country’s enthusiastic appreciation and creation of animation, cinema and contemporary culture. Japan is a nation with a cosmopolitan palate, and its embrace of American culture is a part of its post-war identity. We won’t suggest this experience in all cases, or unless you are travelling as a family, but when we do, we do so unashamedly. 

Tokyo is graced with a second Disney offering in addition to Disneyland. Disneysea is a large park with a nautical theme and a slightly more mature concept. They serve alcohol and some of the rides are a little edgier. It’s set around seven imaginary ports, including the incredible Jules Verne-inspired Mysterious Island, but they are all fantastic. 

Osaka’s Universal is excellent fun, filled with household name rides from the studio’s entertainment catalogue including Spiderman, Jaws and Jurassic Park, but perhaps the crowning attraction is the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Wander Diagon Alley, marvel at Hogwarts Castle, order a butterbeer and ride the hippogriff. If you’ve got any Potterheads in your party, it may become an essential part of your itinerary. 

Japan is also home to a plethora of domestic theme parks that are fantastic fun, and we’re always happy to help you add these into your trip too. When families of varying ages are travelling together, all these theme parks offer a great way to engage everyone from young children to grandparents in a common activity, and shake up the shape of your itinerary.

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