Around the World Showcase at Epcot, each of the eleven pavilions brings the unique style and culture of their respective countries to share with the Walt Disney World Guests. The Japan Pavilion has been a World Showcase destination since the park opened in 1982, and since then, guests routinely add it to their must-do list as it has become a fan-favorite pavilion. Filled with Japanese architecture and iconic cultural offerings, there are so many things to see and explore in the pavilion. As a tribute, we have put together a list of the ten most amazing things about the Japan Pavilion in Epcot.
10 – Koi Pond
Along the steps ascending to Katsura Grill, the koi pond is full of fish content to swim all day and grow to their full potential. A softly falling waterfall keeps the water flowing while the rocks and plant-life give the koi pond a sense that it has been there for ages. There is a secret amid the water in the form of a Hidden Mickey, which can be seen in the center of a metal grate collecting water to be returned to the top of the waterfall.
9 – Sake Tasting Bar
Editor’s Note: At this time, the sake-tasting bar may not be available.
With the Japanese culture so prevalent throughout the pavilion, it’s no surprise that tucked away in the back of the Mitsukoshi Department Store is a Sake Tasting Bar. Allowing guests to sample some of the world-renowned sake from Japan, the tasting bar is a literal taste of Japanese culture. The cast members here are incredibly knowledgeable and patient as they will not only offer suggestions for you but teach you the tradition behind the process of making sake.
8 – Pick A Pearl
Also, in the Mitsukoshi Department Store, the Pick A Pearl ceremony is a sight every Disney fan should see at least once (if not purchase one for themselves). For under $20, guests can pick an oyster from two large tanks around the desk. The cast members then have the guests count down (in Japanese) as they open the oyster, revealing a stunning pearl that is cleaned and measured for you. Drums are played in celebration as you receive your pearl, where you can keep it on its own or have it set in a piece of jewelry for an additional cost. It’s the enthusiasm of the cast members that really make this a fun experience and an all-around great memory.
7 – Tokyo Dining
Tokyo Dining is the place to go for fresh, authentic sushi in Epcot. The incredibly talented chefs prepare the sushi on an open counter, which is then delivered to your table by the servers dressed in traditional kimonos. Even if you’re seated further away from the counter, you can enjoy the floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the World Showcase – from the second story of the building, the view is incredible.
6 – Bijutsu-kan Gallery
Across a bridge towards the back of the pavilion, the Bijutsu-kan is an exhibition gallery that houses different exhibits showcasing Japanese culture and art. While the exhibits change on a relatively regular basis, they are always fascinating to see and explore. Currently, the gallery has an exhibit exploring the culture of Kawaii (meaning cute or loveable). The history of cute culture in Japan has impacted everything from jewelry and toys to where and how people travel.
5 – Matsuriza
At the bottom of the Pagoda, Matsuriza is a troupe of performers who play the majestic Taiko Drums with Bamboo Flutes for melody. The incredible rhythms pulsate through the air, not only filling the pavilion with sound but reaching out into the rest of the World Showcase. There is no holding back when it comes to their performance, even though you would think they may tire after performing around once every hour in the afternoons.
4 – Katsura Grill
As the quick service dining option in Japan, Katsura Grill is a great place to stop for a quick bite to eat. It’s especially handy for guests in your group who want to try different dishes. Whether you’re in the mood for sushi, udon noodles, or teriyaki, it’s hard to go wrong with anything on the menu. The restaurant feels removed from the busy pathways and allows you to relax while you’re eating – make sure to save room for Green Tea Ice Cream or Green Tea Cheesecake for dessert.
3 – Architecture
As with everything in the pavilion, the architecture displays incredible attention to detail in the design of each structure. The large red Torii gate in the waters of the World Showcase Lagoon is typically associated with the Shinto religion but also can be seen in Buddhism as well. In General, the gate is meant to signify a transition. The Goju-no-to Pagoda is probably one of the most recognizable landmarks in the pavilion with the 5 roofs representing the elements of all things in the universe, according to Buddhist beliefs – earth, water, fire, wind, and sky. The large building on the other side of the pavilion is modeled after an Imperial Palace in Kyoto. It is an excellent representation of the art involved in the design of Japanese buildings.
2 – Teppan Edo
One of the table service restaurants in the pavilion is Teppan Edo, a wonderfully entertaining dining experience that is fun for everyone. Guests are seated around a large grill, where the Teppan chefs will come to grill your food, with a healthy dose of showmanship and artistry. Whether they construct objects or create characters using only the food they’re cooking, it’s an extra element to the atmosphere that makes Teppan Edo such a great place to dine.
1 – Mitsukoshi Department Store
Even though we have already covered a couple of the elements inside, the Mitsukoshi Department Store is one of the best reasons to visit the pavilion. Inside the building, thousands of items await you to browse through and pick out your favorites. Whether you love all things anime, specific video games, or apparel, you can find something to love here. There are also items like zen gardens, bonsai trees, lots of tea and tea-related items, and the always popular room filled with Japanese candy, enticing you to try something new or something different to immerse yourself in the culture. You could easily spend hours inside looking at everything they have to offer, and you will only have seen a small percentage of what the pavilion has to offer. Make sure to take your time so you can appreciate all that they have to offer in Mitsukoshi, and you surely won’t be disappointed.
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