Being a person who loves to snack her way around Walt Disney World, soaking up the atmosphere and entertainment, Epcot’s World Showcase is one of my favorite Disney places to relax.
And although I’d be hard-pressed to name just one favorite of the 11 pavilions that make up the World Showcase, I will make a claim that I’m very fond of Japan, one of the original planned pavilions. From the serene beauty of its koi ponds and bonsai displays, part of the land’s extensive incorporation of nature, to the graceful lines of its Goju-no-to pagoda and “White Heron Castle,” I find Japan to be a restful place to enjoy a little down time while Epcot.
That’s not to suggest there isn’t much to see and do in the Japan pavilion. Because I’m a Disney snackie, I like to pick up some Kaki Gori – flavored, shaved ice – and watch either Matsuriza, the traditional Taiko drummers, or Miyuki, the candy artist. Both offer mesmerizing performances.
I’m particularly fond of Miyuki, whose candy sculptures of animals made before my eyes seem like a little bit of Disney magic all of its own. Or maybe it’s because her candy whets my appetite for a visit inside Mitsukoshi Department Store to select some of my favorite Epcot candies: Botan Rice Candy, Pocky and Meiji Panky Chocolate.
If you’re a shopper, the store’s 10,000 square feet will strike you as a bit of air-conditioned heaven. In addition to the shelf upon shelf of candy, Mitsukoshi sells a wide range of merchandise: pop-culture apparel and kimonos, pick-a-pearl jewelry and shoes, artwork and anime merchandise, housewares and toys, ivory and jade.
And Mitsukoshi is also home to one of my highly recommended “Drink Around the World Showcase” stops, the sake bar. Japan’s sake bar is located in one of the store’s quiet nooks. There, you can enjoy a sip or a sampler, getting an education in the rice-wine along the way and then purchase a bottle (or two) for later consumption.
After I have my sample of sake, I like to visit the Bijutsu-kan Gallery. The displays change on occasion, and even when I make visit Walt Disney World often enough the same exhibit is showing I still run across something new or missed the last time.
The gallery is also the site of Japan’s Kidcot Fun Stop, a fun activity for children. And guests of all ages can participate in a Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure at Japan.
If I’m craving a more substantial meal than Kaki Gori and Pocky, I can make a quick stop at Yakitori House, which offers a lovely casual stop in keeping with the overall theming of the pavilion.
I do confess, though, that I much prefer the dining experience at Japan’s table-service restaurants, the contemporary Tokyo Dining, for a terrific sushi bar, and Teppan Edo, for some entertaining tableside cooking. These restaurants are pricier options than Yakitori house, but the quality of the dishes and ambiance make dining at either spot worthwhile.
Before I leave the Japan pavilion for either the American Adventure or Morocco, I take the time to stop and admire the Torii gates and view of World Showcase Lagoon. Like the China pavilion as a whole, this spot presents Epcot at its photogenic best.