5 Fascinating Facts About EPCOT’s Japan Pavilion

by | Feb 1, 2024 | EPCOT, WDW Blog

How well do you know your Japan Pavilion facts? We’ve rounded up some surprising knowledge about the Japan Pavilion that just might surprise even frequent World Showcase visitors.

Every cultural pavilion at EPCOT includes impressive detail that often remains a mystery to even the most dedicated Disney fans—but the Japan Pavilion has to take the cake for the most jam-packed with cultural easter eggs and authentic products and food. Keep reading for some of our favorite facts about the Japan Pavilion, and get an inside scoop on all the must-sees, must-tastes, and experiences you just can’t pass up during your next visit!

1. There’s a Kawaii Museum Inside the Japan Pavilion

Kawaii exhibit at EPCOT's Japan Pavilion

Photo by Courtney Reynolds

When you step through the torii gate of the Japan EPCOT Pavilion you enter the world of cute! Or “kawaii” in Japanese. Kawaii is deeply embedded in Japanese culture, adding a little extra fun to even the most mundane parts of everyday life.

In this mini-museum, you can see a myriad of insanely adorable kawaii items and learn all about the history of kawaii in Japan and how it emerged. 

The kawaii movement started after World War II as a distraction from wartime. Nowadays, cute memorabilia is used by individuals of all genders and ages, and kawaii products can be seen anywhere from grocery stores to on the side of airplanes, to pink bunny barriers in construction sites. Check out the Bijutsu-Kan Gallery for the history of cute, and then get your own adorable kawaii merch in the Mitsukoshi store.

2. An Attraction Was Originally Planned for Japan

If you’ve ever wondered why the Japan Pavilion doesn’t have an attraction that introduces guests to some of the country’s history or traditions, there’s an easy answer: There actually was one planned for this pavilion! In fact, Imagineers planned out multiple attractions for this area within the World Showcase, but none of them ever took.

The attraction that got the farthest in planning and preparation was Meet the World, a clone of the attraction that once lived at Tokyo Disneyland. Meet the World was a show that explored the history of Japan, shown inside a rotating theater. Plans moved ahead, and a building was constructed for the attraction near the Japan Pavilion, with the goal of placing the theater on the second story. However, plans went awry and complications with the rotating platform’s design popped up, and Meet the World was ultimately axed (and the building was turned into a storage and rehearsal space!).

3. The Pavilion’s Architecture Tells a Story

EPCOT Japan Pavilion architecture

Photo by Laurie Sapp

There is a very special element of spirituality weaved into the architecture in the Japan Pavilion. The large red torii gate in the water represents transition in Shinto and Buddhist beliefs. 

The Goji-no-to Pagoda is another landmark that has poetic and spiritual meaning. If you look closely, you will notice that the Pagoda has five different roofs. Each one symbolizes the different essential elements in the Buddhist religion, including water (sui), wind (fu), fire (ka), earth (chi), and void (ku). 

The blue pagoda is a replica of a 7th-century Japanese temple and includes calming pools and gardens with native maples, various trees, and bamboo. The sense of serenity and calm that the garden gives is unmatched and will definitely leave you feeling very zen.

4. The Japan Pavilion is Home to America’s Only Mitsukoshi

The Mitsukoshi Department store is one of the grand treasures of EPCOT – and it’s particularly special, too. It’s the only Mitsukoshi store that exists in North America! Here, you can shop for authentic Japanese merchandise from cultural kimonos to Sanrio, Pokemon, and anime products. Forget expensive international shipping; stop at the EPCOT Japan Pavilion and bask in the glory of all the Mitsukoshi store has to offer. 

In the Mitsukoshi store, you will find a large shallow pool with a ton of oysters, too. These are for pearl hunting! It’s a staple within the Japan Pavilion – guests can pay to pick an oyster from the countertop tanks, and if there’s one found inside, you can have it measured and set in jewelry (or take it home solo, if you’d like). 

5. The Japan Pavilion Used to Offer Historic Candy Creations

From 1996 to 2013, Miyuki (aka the candy lady, or Candy Miyuki) was a must-see attraction at the Japan Pavilion. Miyuki is a Japanese candy maker, and she made history as the only female to receive training in Japan in the art of Amezaiku (Japanese candy making). She’s only one of 15 people trained in the art. 

Her candy creations started out as hot balls of rice starch, then were handcrafted into different animal sculptures per the request of an audience member. To finish, she hung them to cool and the candy was then given to the guest as a free souvenir. 

Candy was handed out sparsely to crowd members who are able to make requests, so it was best to get in line early for the show to have a chance at taking home a piece of authentic Japanese candy. While this rare experience is no more, it’s still a cool piece of EPCOT’s Japan Pavilion trivia today!

The next time you find yourself in The Japan Pavilion you can share your knowledge of these carefully placed details and treasured attractions. Learn more about the different pavilions within World Showcase below:

5 Riveting Facts About the Mexico Pavilion At EPCOT

5 Facts About EPCOT’s Italy Pavilion

Posts by Lex Mancini

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Lex Mancini is a proud Florida native and a Graduate from The University of South Florida. She has been going to Disney since a child ... it reminds her of home.
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Lex Mancini

Lex Mancini is a proud Florida native and a Graduate from The University of South Florida. She has been going to Disney since a child ... it reminds her of home.
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