I’m in my second year of studying Japanese. I bug my parents to take me to Japan, but a $2000 round trip plane ticket is a hard sell. Lucky for me, we were able to swing a trip to Disney World. There, I can sample many different nations at EPCOT, including Japan.
EPCOT (which stands for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow) is an amazing place where I can not only delve into the world of science and technology, but I can even visit a wealth of countries in one afternoon.
As I walked past Morocco on my journey, a few more steps finds me in smack-dab in the middle of Japan surrounded by stunning architecture—most predominately, a striking pagoda reminiscent of a seventh century Horyuji Temple. Lush gardens abound. I could also listen to Japanese taiko drumming while I took in the sights.
The White Heron Castle, modeled after a fortress, is a feast for the eyes and houses the Bijutsu-kan Gallery where different exhibits are featured. Their current exhibit is called “Kawaii: Japan’s Cute Culture.” From my Japanese studies, I know that “kawaii” means cute, and the displays sure were cute! Want to take home something kawaii for yourself? You can buy plenty of cute things at the Mitsukoshi department store right there in Japan’s EPCOT, a magnificent building that replicates Japan’s Imperial Palace. Even if “cute” is not your thing, the store also offers everything from books and cooking utensils to pearls and jewelry.
If all this Japanese culture exhausted you, you can reenergize at the Mitsukoshi restaurants where they offer Teppan Edo as one of the dining options. Diners enjoy the spectacle of chefs chopping up and cooking delicacies with talented skill and accuracy right in front of your eyes. The delectable entrees include a variety of meats with crisp, fresh vegetables served with mouthwatering sauces over rice. Also, sushi appetizers are available for the more adventurous. Another option offered in the Mitsukoshi restaurants is the slick, modern atmosphere at Tokyo Dining. Your parents can even try a hot sake, while you enjoy your green tea. Lastly, Katsura Grill, surrounded by perfectly manicured gardens, is Disney’s quick-service option in EPCOT Japan. If you don’t have reservations, this may be your only choice, but you’ll enjoy it as much as I did.
But my favorite part of EPCOT Japan was something that so many people walk by without even noticing. Along the paths, you can find beautiful bonsai trees, one of which was 200 years old! I couldn’t believe a tree so small and delicate could last as long as that.
I wish I could say that I’ve let up on my parents about taking me to Japan one day. Dipping my toe into the country’s beauty and culture at EPCOT Japan only made me want to go there more. But I’m grateful to have this sneak peek and look forward to diving in more one day in the future.