Drink Around the World Showcase – Japan Pavilion
If your tour of Epcot includes participating in the Chip and Company’s Drink Around the World Showcase (DAWS) experience – our drink and food challenge – Japan is always a welcome stop. Especially if you’re participating in the spirit of an international DAWS day by sipping some sake, or another Japanese beverage.
A convenient stop for DAWS is Japan’s outdoor food cart. It offers three drinks in addition its cold Kaki-Gori treat (see below for more on Kaki-Gori). There you may order
- a glass of plum wine,
- Kirin Draft Beer (Japanese Rice Lager), or
- Ozeki sake (sake is rice wine that is brewed, like beer, rather than fermented) that the Cast Member will serve either hot or cold.
These are some of the same options you’ll find at the restaurants in the Japan pavilion.
Japan’s sake bar at the Mitsukoshi Department Store
For me, though, DAWS is as much about the entire experience as it is about the drinks. So I’d bypass the outdoor drink stand and head straight to the sake bar inside the Mitsukoshi Department Store. There, you can be served a variety of sakes from aperitifs to traditional sakes as well as their recommended sakes. It’s an intimate experience, and educational, and a stop there always results in a new discovery each time I visit.
The bar’s descriptive menu and Cast Member can help you select a sake for your preferred tastes, from a light sparkling sake to versions more akin to bourbon. Be sure to ask about alcohol content as sake can be much stronger than people expect – my recent tasting of three sakes featured examples that ranged between 7% – 15%, with the higher end being more representative of the beverage (to, say, 20%).
Suggestions: Never tried sake or don’t drink much wine? Try a sparkling sake as they’re very mild. Enjoy whiskey? Go bold. Or consult this guide to sake for beginners.
Or if you’re in the mood for another other stand-out option at Japan’s sake bar, try the plum wine at the bar (don’t forget to eat the plum).
And if you’re not doing a full-on DAWS day, but focusing on one or two stops around Epcot’s World Showcase, I highly recommend trying the sampler at the sake bar. The small bar, located in a corner near the back of the store, offers guests a three-sake sampler that’s well worth the $17 (current) price. Offerings that change on a regular basis.
Explore at eat your way through the Japan pavilion on an Epcot DAWS day
In addition to the sake, why is Japan one of my favorite stops for DAWS?
First, it’s a good location to explore with a drink in one’s hand, whether that’s to enjoy serenity of the koi ponds and streams outside in the beautifully landscaped grounds or to take advantage of the air-conditioned comfort of the Bijutsu-kan Gallery or Mitsukoshi Department Store.
Touring in the afternoon and early evening, which are the times you’ll likely be moving through this pavilion, also means there’s a good chance to see some of Japan’s entertainment. While I enjoy the Matsuriza, the Japanese Taiko drummers, Miyuki the Candy Artist remains my personal favorite. And Japan’s overall atmosphere makes a DAWS day seem more like a stroll in the park than a binge-drinker’s dream.
Second, Japan’s location and its food options make for a good place to enjoy the dining aspect of our challenge. (Remember, you earn points for both drinks and food in our game.) Japan is home to
- a Disney fan favorite, Kaki-Gori (a shaved ice dessert flavored with fruit syrup that tastes noticeably different than an American snow cone – my flavors of choice are melon or rainbow).
- Epcot’s largest selection of candy – even more expansive than Goofy’s Candy Company in Future World – and certainly its most diverse.
- Japan offers three choices for more substantial meals: Teppan Edo (teppan-yaki steakhouse– tableside preparation- and its sushi), Tokyo Dining (sushi and tempura at a table-service atmosphere with a great view), and Yakitori House (familiar food, think take-out or strip-mall quality, in a beautiful quick-service restaurant).
The next time you’re in Epcot for me, stop by Japan and raise a glass of sake for me. Kanpai!
- Katsura Grill Official Opening at Epcot’s Japan Pavilion (chipandco.com)
- Top 5 Epcot Traditions (chipandco.com)