The large red torii gate, the traditional symbol of honor, is a perfect symbol to welcome guests to the pavilion of Japan. This majestic introduction is inspired by a similar torii gate found at the Itsukushima shrine at Hiroshima Bay. A blue-roofed pagoda, which is a replica of a 7th century Horyuji Temple, represents the ancient culture of Japan. The five stories of the stately pagoda symbolize earth, wind, fire, sky and water. Symbolism is also found in the tranquil gardens as well. Rocks, pools and streams represent the earth and water which is considered to be the life source. Brightly colored koi inhabit the ponds. Flowering shrubs, bamboo, evergreen trees, monkey puzzle trees and Japanese maples enhance the pavilion. A replica of the coronation and ceremonial halls of Japan's Imperial Palace is home to the Mitsukoshi Department Store. Named for the oldest department store in the world, the original store goes back three centuries. In this shop, you'll find a large variety of Japanese gifts and souvenirs such as lacquer screens, pearl necklaces, silk kimonos, bonsai trees, dolls, paper fans, books on Japanese gardening and cooking and decorative masks. When they revamped the store, they added a large section devoted to "Hello Kitty" and "Anime" merchandise. They also have an expanded section for items pertaining to Japanese cooking, in particular for sushi preparation and serving.
The "White Heron Castle" is modeled after a 17th century fortress that overlooks Himeji. In the castle, you'll find the Bijutsu-kan Gallery which displays both traditional and modern Japanese art. Entertainment in Japan has included the Cirikli (stilt walkers dressed as exotic birds), anesaiku (shaping brown rice candy into mythical animal shapes) and origami (paper folding). Matsuriza, Japanese taiko drumming, is performed several times a day, check the park guide map for exact times. At the "Teppanyaki Dining Room", guests are seated at an 8 seat black lacquered counter around a large grill where chefs chop, prepare and cook your meal with such skill and speed, it provides a means of entertainment to enhance your dining experience. Entrees include chicken, beef, and seafood cooked alone or in combinations with crisp vegetables served with tasty sauces, steamed rice and salad. Over the Mitsukoshi Department Store is the "Mitsukoshi Tempura Kiku ". As in the Teppanyaki Dining Room, guests are seated at a counter around the cooking area. The meat and seafood dishes here are not stir-fried as at the Teppanayaki, they are battered and deep-fried, tempura style. Sushi is offered here as well. The "Yakitori House" is a counter-service restaurant that offers skewers of Japanese beef and chicken. Diners have the option of eating indoors or outdoors, here. The "Matsu No Ma Lounge" offers sashimi and sushi appetizers as well as beverages such as hot sake, green tea and kirin beer. TIP: The front terrace here is a great spot from which to watch Illuminations. FUN FACTS: To say “hello” (good morning) in Japanese, say “ohayo gozaimasu” (oh-hi-yoh goh-zy-ee-mahs). HIDDEN MICKEYS: Check the fences around the trees. Also check the stones in the lagoon left of the stairs on the concourse level.