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 is currently under refurbishment. The previous exhibit focused on how ancient stories have been adapted to contemporary anime.
In addition, Japan features Matsuriza, which is a group of traditional acrobatic Taiko drummers that perform on the steps of the pagoda.
Japan is home to two table service restaurants both located up the steps above the Mitsukoshi Department Store.
Teppan Edo features teppanyaki style Japanese cooking on hibachi grills similar to Benihana.
Service is among the friendliest and because the food is cooked right in front of you, among the freshest available.
Tokyo Dining features sushi and other traditional items in a more formal, contemporary setting, though the atmosphere remains decidedly casual.
We like lunch, when several entrees are available with miso soup and ice cream for dessert for under $20.
The full menu is otherwise available all day.
Katsura Grill is the quick service arm of Japan, offering items like teriyaki, basic sushi, tempura, and udon noodle bowls.
With plenty of more interesting options abound and with relatively high prices for mediocre food, I think most people are better served heading elsewhere.
Kabuki Cafe serves a snow-cone-like treat, called a kaki gori, for about $4 that is a terrific cold snack, particularly in the summer heat. They also serve a few other snacks like miso soup and edamame along with teas, smoothies, beer, and other drinks.
Drink Around the World:
The Mitsukoshi Department Store sells a variety of sakes at an informal tasting bar.
This is also where you’ll find Japan’s best (by far) beer in a bottle of the Ginga Kogen Hefeweizen.
In addition, Kabuki Cafe serves sake, plum wine, Kirin, Asahi, Sapporo, and other beers. I’d skip the “Frozen Kirin” which is just a regular Kirin with a weird whipped beer foam on top. It’s 100x more disgusting than it sounds.
Finally, there is a sake bar directly across from the Mitsukoshi Department store that sells sake, mixed sake cocktails, frozen beverages, beer, and plum wine. This is the best spot for a mixed drink.
Character Sightings: Characters don’t usually appear in the Japan Pavilion.
Shopping Opportunities: 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.
This is also home to the popular Pick-A-Pearl, where you have a chance to select an oyster and after a fun ceremony, find out what the pearl inside looks like.
You have an opportunity to have it set into jewelry either by purchasing a piece at the store or bringing your own from home (they’re cheaper on eBay). Prices start around $10 and go up well over $200.