In JK Rowling's novels, one can only enter into the wizarding world if you (as a wizard or a witch) know where to go. You can go via Floo Network, by catching the train from Platform 9-3/4, by flying (using brooms or the magical Ford Anglia), by Apparition, or by using port keys. If you're a Muggle, forget it; there are too many charms, spells, and secrets around the wizarding world that it can't be seen or accessed through Muggle eyes.
... or so we thought.
Apparently, JK Rowling has hoodwinked everyone because this wizarding world featured mostly in her books is not in Great Britain at all. It's in Japan. Yes, in JAPAN!!
Learning about this, fellow Harry Potter fans, Krishna and I flew all the way from Tokyo to Osaka after we've had our fill of sakura to check the wizarding world out for ourselves. We quickly found ourselves in wintry Hogsmeade and we bought ourselves some butterbeer to warm us up. That was quite remarkable because there were a lot of Muggles with us... and we were able to find some butterbeer in no time!
Winter means short days. In our case, it meant that we needed to reach Hogwarts as soon as we could. It would be too creepy to sit in carriages pulled by thestrals. And it would be quite difficult to cross the Black Lake by rowboat because we haven't seen one yet. So, we walked... I guess only the witches and the wizards were entitled to go to the castle by vehicle. Mere Muggles had to trudge through Hogsmeade over the bridge and then through the gate into Hogwarts.
A few hours (yes, hours) of waiting and then we were finally indoors... we first entered Hogwarts' greenhouses. It was warm enough for me to forget that it was wintry outside. I wonder if First Years ever had to wait that long before the Sorting began...
In the Castle itself, we were welcomed by the stern-looking Sorting Hat. I never heard what it said but I suppose it must be its own song.
And then we were led through halls filled with pictures whose occupants moved... some even traveled from one frame to another!
Our first glimpse of Harry, Ron, and Hermione was at the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom. They popped out of nowhere because they were wearing Harry's Invisibility Cloak. We then found ourselves going into the Room of Requirement and taking a ride right smack into an ongoing Quidditch match!
After returning to and exiting the Room of Requirement, Krishna and I went on a second walking tour of the castle to see details that we didn't notice on our first walkthrough. But Hogsmeade's attractions awaited and we had to leave the school behind.
The sun has set when we left for Hogsmeade. The village looked prettier in the dark because of all the warm lights! We couldn't stay there, however. And so with a last glance at the wizarding world, we returned to Muggle-land.
By the way, we were at Universal Studios Japan the whole time.