Japan

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Japan
Japanpavilion.jpg
The pagoda located within the Japan pavilion
Epcot
Land World Showcase
Opening date October 1, 1982
Number of Attractions 0
Number of Restaurants 5

Japan is a pavilion located within World Showcase in Epcot. It is located between the The American Adventure and Morocco.

Pavilion History and Unused Ideas

Although a Japan pavilion had always been planned for World Showcase, the pavilion went through many changes before its creation. Original Imagineering building designs for the Japan pavilion were based on the traditional Pagoda, which had actually originated in China. Once this error was recognized, the whole pavilion had to be re-imagined [1].

When the Japan pavilion was built, a massive show building was constructed behind the fortress [2]. The building was going to be home an attraction known as "Meet the World"- a "carousel theater" type attraction which was being developed for EPCOT Center and Tokyo Disneyland simultaneously [1]. Unlike The Carousel of Progress which used stationary sets with a rotating theater, Meet the World was going to have a stationary theater with rotating sets [3]. The theater would have featured six, 600 seat theaters, giving the ride an hourly capacity of 3,600 guests [1].

The Meet the World attraction would have followed a young boy, a young girl and a magical crane, as they led the audience through Japan’s history[1]. The show was to have consisted of four acts, which would use in-theater effects, projections, and Audio Animatronics, to tell the story. Act I of Meet the World was going to show the origin of Japan’s islands and their volcanic beginnings. In this scene, the audience would have been introduced to their hosts as they traveled back to island’s early history[1]. Act II would have then featured Japan reaching out to the world, and the world coming to it. This scene would have ended with the country in self-imposed isolationism[1]. Picking up here, Act III was going to show the battle between the proponents of isolationism and the proponents of expansionism[1]. Finally, Act IV would have shown Japan just after the 1940s, now a modern nation, and once again reaching out to the world. A final scene would then have featured the hosts saying goodbye[1].

The torii gate in the Japan pavilion. Photo by Harslight

Although the show was designed and ready to go, Meet the World never made its debut in the Japan pavilion. The reason for this may have been that during construction, errors were found in the show building [1]. It was decided that a new show building would need to be created, and this put the future of the attraction in jeopardy[1]. With EPCOT Center already over budget, the attraction was eventually pushed to Phase II of the park, before its construction was cancelled [1]. Another reason the attraction was not built may have been because the show glossed over Japan's involvement in World War II [3]. No matter the reason behind the decision, Meet the World was never installed in the Japan pavilion. Since the attraction was never built, other ideas have been suggested for the empty show building. One idea, called for a Circlevision-360 film aboard a bullet train [3], while in the early 1990s, Imagineers pitched an indoor roller coaster, which was to be housed inside a replica of Mount Fuji [1]. Adding the validity of this proposal Fuji Film offered to cover the coast of the coaster’s construction and operation in return for sponsorship [1]. The deal stalled however, due to Kodak’s (who sponsored Journey Into Imagination among other things in Walt Disney World) unhappiness with Fuji Film moving into Disney World. Eventually, plans for the coaster fell through [1] and the show building still remains unused.

History Since Opening Day

Throughout its history the Japan pavilion has seen a number of changes. In 1981, the Yakitori House was expanded [1].

In 2007, the Japan’s Teppanyak Dining Room was completely redesigned and expanded [1]. The restaurant eventually reopened as the more modern Teppan Edo [2]. The two other restaurants in Japan, Tempura Kiki and the Matsu No Ma lounge were combined into a new dining location called Tokyo Dining [2]. Later that year, the refurbishment on the pavilion’s fortress was also complete [1]. In December 2011, the Yakitori House closed for refurbishment. When the restaurant reopened, its name was changed to Katsura Grill [4].

On October 20, 2015 a new exhibit titled "Kawaii - Japan's Cute Culture" opened in the Japan pavilion. This gallery features various pieces that will give guests a taste of Japan's Kawaii culture. [5]

Layout [3]

When the Japan pavilion opened in 1982, it included three restaurants (Temoura Kiki, Matsu No Ma lounge, and the Teppanyaki Dining Room), a large store, and the Bijutsu-kan (a museum). The icon of the Japan pavilion is a five-story pagoda, a building that is most associated with Buddhism. The five tiers of the pagoda each represent an element which Buddhists believe the universe was created from. Guests can often see live entertainment near the pagoda.

There are two main buildings in the Japan pavilion; the first is large imposing building modeled after the Gosho Imperial Palace in Kyoto. Known as the Hall Of Ceremonies, this building holds the Mitshukishi department store on the first story, as well as Tokyo Dining and Teppan Edo on the second. The back of the pavilion is themed to look like a fortress, and it was modeled after the Himeju Castle. The fortress is surrounded by a moat. Currently the fortress houses a Kidcot station, a museum and a portion of the Mitsukoshi department store. The Japan pavilion also holds a garden which is centered around a koi pond.

Attractions

Matsuziza performing. Photo by Curtis Palmer

Disney Phineas and Ferb: Agent P's World Showcase Adventure- On this interactive adventure, guests use a "F.O.N.E." (Field Operative Notification Equipment) to help Agent P. stop Dr. Doofenshmirtz, by looking for clues throughout World Showcase. The adventure is based on the Disney cartoon Phineas and Ferb.

Exhibits

Kawaii - Japan's Cute Culture- This gallery gives guests a taste of Japan's Kawii culture. The exhibit opened on October 20, 2014 replacing the Spirited Beasts exhibit.

Shopping

Mitsukoshi Department Store- This large store sells all kinds of authentic Japanese merchandise. Items sold here include: clothing, jewelry, books, and toys.

Dining

Kabuki Cafe - This quick service stand sells soft drinks, alcoholic beverages, and the popular kakigori (shaved ice with flavored syrup and condensed milk).

Katsura Grill - Designed to resemble an authentic tea house, this counter service restaurant specializes in sushi.

Garden House - Located across the courtyard from the Mitshukishi department store, this stand sells refreshments.

Tokyo Dining - This table service restaurant serves a traditional sushi meal. Tokyo Dining is located on the second floor of the Hall Of Ceremonies.

Teppan Edo- Located next to Tokyo Dining, Teppan Edo features chefs who prepare stir fry in front of guests.

Live Entertainment

Matsuziza- This group of Japanese taiko drummers perform five days a week at the base of the pavilion's pagoda.

Former Entertainment

Miyuki- Based near the Mitshukishi Department Store, Miyuki turned heated rice dough into different animals. Miyuki’s final performance at Epcot came in November of 2013.

Fun Facts and Trivia

  • The original name for planned Meet the World attraction was "Winds of Change" [3].
  • The five elements represented on the Japan pavilions pagoda are: earth, wind, fire, water and sky [6].
  • The lanterns in the pavilion are illuminated three times each year- once during the Setsubun Mantoro Festival in February, and twice during the Obon Mantoro Festival in August [7].
  • The exhibits in the Bijutsu-kan change every two to five years [7].

References

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 http://www.martinsvids.net/?p=90
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 The Epcot Explorer's Encyclopedia: A Guide to Walt Disney World's Greatest Theme Park
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 http://land.allears.net/blogs/jackspence/2012/02/epcots_japan_pavilion_part_one.html
  4. http://www.wdwmagic.com/dining/yakitori-house.htm
  5. http://www.wdwmagic.com/attractions/japan/news/20oct2015-photos---epcots-japan-pavilion-gallery-updated-with-new-kawaii---japan's-cute-culture-exhibit.htm
  6. https://waltdatedworld.com/id207.htm
  7. 7.0 7.1 http://land.allears.net/blogs/jackspence/2012/02/epcots_japan_pavilion_part_two.html