Our Favorite Things in Epcot’s Japan Pavilion

When visiting Epcot's World Showcase there are several must-visit destinations, many of which include food or drink (I'm looking at you France. And Norway.) But one of my favorite spots to visit has more to do with the look and feel of the pavilion than anything else.

What do you love about Epcot's Japan pavilion?What do you love about Epcot's Japan pavilion?

Of course, I'm talking about the Japan pavilion, which up until a few years ago was just another stop on our tour around the World. But after spending a good amount of time just relaxing near the gardens and koi pond, it has been my place to escape the hustle and bustle of the crowds. And yes, there is food involved too.

Each pavilion in World Showcase has something that draws me to it, so today's let's visit Japan and see what there is to love.

The pagoda and gardens in JapanThe pagoda and gardens in Japan

Before you head into the pavilion stop by the water's edge and check out the bright red torii gate that welcomes visitors to the pavilion. It's one of my favorite spots to stop for a photo. Another one of my favorite aspects of the pavilion is the five-story pagoda that represents the five elements from which Buddhists believe everything in the universe is created: earth, water, fire, wind, and sky.

The pagoda is certainly the centerpiece of the pavilion, standing at 83 feet tall. It is topped with a 9-ring spire that features golden wind chimes. Throughout the day you'll likely see and hear the Taiko drummers, Matsuriza, performing at the pagoda. You can often hear the drums as you approach the Japan pavilion and it's definitely a must-see performance.

Taiko drummers in Japan pavilionTaiko drummers in Japan pavilion

Perhaps my favorite spot in the entire pavilion is the formal garden behind the pagoda. Here you'll find an area that was created to evoke a sense of serenity and peace, complete with waterfalls and a koi pond.

If you happen to be hungry when you stop by Japan you're in luck because it is home to several delicious spots eat. My youngest loves stopping by the Katsura Grill, the pavilion's quick service restaurant, for a bowl of steamed rice. I prefer something with a little more substance so I'm more likely to order Teriyaki Chicken or the Tempura Shrimp Udon.

You'll find ample seating inside and outside at Katsura Grill, I prefer to sit closer to the gardens on a wooden bench area. It's a great spot to people watch, gaze at the gardens, and listen to the Taiko drummers.

Katsura Grill in Japan pavilionKatsura Grill in Japan pavilion

If you're looking for a table service meal the pavilion is home to two great table service restaurants: Tokyo Dining and Teppan Edo. Both restaurants are located upstairs from the Mitsukoshi Department Store, in the Shishinden - a building inspired by the ceremonial and coronation hall located in the Imperial Palace grounds in Kyoto.

Teppan Edo is a traditional Japanese steakhouse where part of the meal is the chef's performance as he or she cooks your meal in front of you. You won't leave hungry thanks to generous portions of meat, seafood, or chicken along with rice and Udon noodles.

Delicious food at Teppan EdoDelicious food at Teppan Edo

Tokyo Dining is home to two distinct dining areas: the "on-stage" sushi kitchen or the dining room where guests have a panoramic view of World Showcase. This is a great spot to dine and watch IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth.

The restaurant is known for its sushi offerings, but if you aren't a fan don't let that deter you. The menu also offers a variety of non-sushi entrees including Bento Boxes, tempura dishes, grilled chicken, grilled salmon, and filet mignon.

Tokyo Dining is one of those hidden gems at Epcot and once you dine there you'll add it to your list of must-visit spots.

Tempura and sushi combo at Tokyo DiningTempura and sushi combo at Tokyo Dining

The Japan pavilion isn't just home to a gorgeous themeing and good food; it is also a great place to shop. Here you'll find the Mitsukoshi Department Store, which is a wonderland of merchandise and a great place to find a traditional Japanese gift. The store sells Japanese footwear, kimonos, anime items, Hello Kitty, and snack foods. There's also a "pick a pearl" tank where guests can choose an oyster and you get to purchase the pearl (it costs about $20). And don't forget about the sake counter in the back!

The pavilion is also home to the Bijutsu-kan Gallery where guests can currently see the Kawaii exhibit which represents "all things darling." The current exhibit features a Melty-Go-Round statue in the shape of a Harajuku girl and historical artifacts that tell the story of the phenomenon.

Bijutsu-kan Gallery in the Japan pavilionBijutsu-kan Gallery in the Japan pavilion

What do you love most about the Japan pavilion in Epcot's World Showcase? Let us know in the comments.

Many thanks to the Disney Food Blog for use of their photos.

DonnaP wrote on Mon, 04/04/2016 - 14:30:

Anonymous's picture

Bijutsu-kan Gallery

Janet Sala wrote on Mon, 04/04/2016 - 20:06:

Anonymous's picture

Right now, that exhibit of Japanese Kawaii culture is complete with a Kawaii sound track! My phone is now full of Japanese pop music as a result of spending time there! Talk about ear worms!

My all time favorite place, though, is in the patio behind Katsura Grill (formerly the Yakitori House). It's a great place to relax with friends during off-hours, or grab some iced green tea and Udon noodles and enjoy a quiet meal with nature providing incredible ambiance.

It's my favorite World Showcase pavilion, and has been since 1982!

Kristen K. wrote on Mon, 04/04/2016 - 23:33:

Kristen K.'s picture

I can not wait to see the Kawaii exhibit when I'm there in May - it's totally on my list!

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