Pavilion Setting: The red torii gate and the 85 foot tall Goju-no-to pagoda are the two structures you’ll instantly notice as you enter the Japan Pavilion. These and other buildings are surrounded by beautiful gardens made up of native Japanese plants, bamboo, and evergreen, maple, and monkey puzzle trees. The large courtyard in the middle of the Pavilion makes Japan feel more open, relaxed, and less cluttered than other Pavilions. Be sure to cross the bridge leading to the White Heron Castle and check out the koi fish below.
Attraction Info: Although adding a ride has been talked about since the Pavilion originally opened in 1982, Japan still does not have a major attraction. Instead, there is an art gallery inside of the castle with exhibits that change periodically. The current exhibit features anime artwork and explains how it mirrors traditional Japanese culture. In addition, Japan features Matsuriza, which is a group of traditional Taiko drummers. This is an exciting show in which the drummers play the large drums in an acrobatic style. Another interesting show is performed by Miyuki, who is the only woman to ever be taught the craft of candy artistry. By molding soft rice dough, she’s able to create a variety of shapes, animals, and objects. It’s mesmerizing work and probably most people’s only opportunity to see it in person. Check your Times Guide for show times.
Dining Options: Japan features two great World Showcase restaurants in the form of Tokyo Dining and Teppan Edo. Teppan Edo features teppanyaki style Japanese cooking similar to Benihana. Tokyo Dining features sushi and other traditional items in a more formal setting. The Yakitori House is also a good stop if you’re in the mood for quick service sushi or teriyaki. Click the highlighted links for detailed reviews. The Kabuki Cafe stand also serves a snow-cone-like treat, called a kaki gori, for about $3.50 that is a terrific cold snack. They also serve a few other snacks like miso soup and edamame along with teas, smoothies, beer, and other drinks. I highly recommend a kaki gori if you’re looking to cool off a bit.
Drink Around the World: The Mitsukoshi Department Store sells a variety of sakes at an informal tasting bar. In addition, Kabuki Cafe serves sake ($6.00), plum wine ($6.00), and a 20-ounce Kirin beer for about $8. Finally, there is a small bar directly across from the Mitsukoshi Department store that sells sake, mixed sake cocktails, frozen beverages, beer, and plum wine.
Character Sightings: Characters don’t usually appear in the Japan Pavilion.
Shopping Opportunities: The Mitsukoshi Department Store is far and away the most popular shopping location at the World Showcase. At more than 10,000 square feet, it’s also the largest. Mitsukoshi has something for every person and every budget. The candy and food items are probably the most popular, but you’ll also find kimonos, Samurai swords, Bonsai trees, chopstick sets, calligraphy brushes, toys, and everything in between. If you’re only going to visit one store at the World Showcase then this has to be it. Plan to spend a while in here because there’s a lot to see.