Japan - Photo Tour
Photos by Brian Bennett and Karl Buiter
Welcome to Epcot's Japan Pavilion! These photos are from my own most recent visit to Epcot, but I've also tossed in some pictures by fellow MousePlaneteer Karl Buiter.
The first thing you'll notice about the Japan Pavilion is the striking architecture. The Shinto shrine gate, at the edge of the World Showcase Lagoon, serves to frame the rest of the pavilion for folks looking at it from the water, or from across the lagoon. The exquisite detail on the pavilion buildings are highlighted in the details of the temple's roof edge. As with the rest of World Showcase, the Imagineers did a great job in setting the stage for what's to come as you enter the pavilion.
One thing you might enjoy on your visit is a lively performance by Matsuriza, a traditional Japanese taiko drum troupe.
On the other extreme of the tranquility scale are the lovely water gardens that lie hidden behind the temple. Koi (Japanese carp), water plants, and the soothing sounds of tumbling water provide a sense of serenity for visitors.
Across the way from the temple and garden areas is the very large Mitsukoshi store. The original store opened its doors over 300 years ago in Japan. The Epcot version only has a small sampling of items, but it's fun to browse here... and perhaps even purchase something to remind you of your visit.
A traditional gardening technique in Japan, of course, is "bonsai"... the care of miniature trees. Most bonsai trees sold at Mitsukoshi are simple junipers and such. On rare occasion, you might come across a Fukien Tea or a varigated ficus. [I really don't know what I'm talking about here. Both my father and my wife have enjoyed the trials and tribulations of caring for bonsai in recent years, tempted in no small part by these displays here. I only remember the names of the trees from their efforts, not my own.]
Traditional clothing, including kimono and other silky delicates, are also available.
Traditional Japanese dolls are on display toward the back of the store.
In the center, across from the bonsai display, you can purchase oysters; each one guaranteed to contain a pearl. It's fun to do, and you can have your pearl mounted in a setting if you'd like.
These last two pictures of the Mitsukoshi store are of some of their lovely porcelain pieces. These things would be gorgeous in a room decorated with an oriental theme!
Directly above Mitsukoshi are the main restaurants of the pavilion. Tempura Kiku serves up sushi, as well as battered and deep-fried tempura cuisine.
My personal preference, though, is the Teppanyaki Dining Rooms, right next door. As you can see, the dining rooms are literally several rooms in a row. Each one has four tables that surround a central cooktop.
After your order your meal, a chef comes to your table and cooks your selections right in front of you. In addition to entrées such as beef, chicken, and shrimp, the chef also grills up vegetables for you.
The chefs are often very entertaining, usually showing quite a bit of talent as they quickly create eight meals in just a few minutes. The results are very good. I thoroughly enjoy the ginger and soy sauces along with the rest of the meal, and the salad with ginger dressing is one of my favorite treats.
Yakitori ("grilled chicken") House, nestled up on the hill across the courtyard from the restaurants and the Mitsukoshi store, serves up Japanese fast food.
Yakitori House has a small seating area, and there are more tables outside if you'd prefer.
The food here is a bit more unusual to my Midwestern American palate compared to the Chinese fast food fare at Lotus Blossom Cafe, but it's tasty and fun to try nonetheless.
If you'd like more information on all of the restaurants in Japan, check out MousePlanet's Walt Disney World Restaurant Resource page on the Japan Pavilion!
The Japan Pavilion does not have a ride, movie, or show. This is unfortunate, because Japan's rich heritage, tradition, and culture could certainly have been the basis for a fantastic attraction of some sort.
The building that now displays Japanese art and technology is rumored to have once been considered for a Japan ride.
This ancient warrior sculpture guards the entryway into the ancient Japanese fortress that contains the displays.
and an Animatronic dragon are on view in the hands-on exhibit area.
An authentic samurai coat of armor is on display in the less popular, but thoroughly enjoyable, art and history display area.
I really hope that some day an attraction is added to the Japanese pavilion. The shopping, restaurants, and displays are fun, but it would be so great to enjoy the culture and history of this proud land with some interactive ride or show. Perhaps someday...
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