Exploring Japanese Culture In The Happiest Place On Earth

Visiting Japan wasn’t hard.

It just took faith, trust, and pixie dust.

I have something exciting to share with you today, dear reader. Last week I was in Japan!

Downtown Tokyo! Well, not quite...

Er, that is to say, some semblance of Japan that’s not really Japan but is, in actuality, Florida. Truth be told, I was in the one place in the world where you can walk from Morocco to Italy to China in less than fifteen minutes. Last week I was in Walt Disney World! I’ve been to WDW before, but when I was a child I didn’t really care that much about Epcot, and I especially couldn’t give a rip about any of the pavilions in the World Showcase (except for Mexico and Norway, because they have rides!). However, this time I got to enjoy the park as an adult, which was really the best of both worlds: I still rode Peter Pan’s Adventure and Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion numerous times, but I also took the chance to stroll around the World Showcase more in-depth than ever before. (If you’re a fellow WDW lover and want to read more about my adventures, check out Hot Pink Headphones tomorrow.)

My sister's bento box on the left, and my finished meal on the right. I ate everything except for the tempura onion.

As a fan of both anime and Japanese culture, I was especially looking forward to spending time in “Japan.” I ate there twice, and it was some of the most delicious food I’ve ever had! Seriously, I could eat there once a week and be a very happy girl. Plus I managed to eat my entire meal with chopsticks for the first time. Bonus! (Rice has always been my tricky downfall, but I finally got the hang of it.)

Then I checked out the huge store that resides below the dining area, and it was there that my mind was totally blown. Perhaps you live somewhere near a good comic book store, or import shop, or even an annual anime convention, but as I live way out in the boonies, I have none of that. So imagine how my heart fluttered when I walked in and saw this:

I didn't buy it all, but I did snag a Sebby notebook and some postcards!

Black Butler stuff! Lots of Black Butler stuff! Most of it I had seen online, true, but coming face-to-face with rows of products from one of your favourite fandoms is rather gasp-inducing. There were also heaps of great stuff from Legend of Zelda (another obsession of mine), Super Mario Brothers, and ten tons of other anime products, like these t-shirts:

I'll take one of each, please!

And of course, one can’t forget the mountains of Hello Kitty gear lining the shelves:

Yup, I love Hello Kitty too, though I went for the Black Butler goods on this trip.

And that was just the first third of the store! There were whole sections devoted to Miyazaki, tabi socks, fans, ramen bowls… And then I saw this and my jaw dropped:

My awesome sister bought me twenty dollars worth of Pocky. That's love.

A mountain of Pocky! And in flavors I’d never heard of before!

Then, as a further bonus, there was an exhibit on “Spirited Beasts” in Japanese art:

Ooooooo, aaaaah...

Different sections of the exhibit. Very cool!

It was very awesome to see familiar characters such as Holo and Lawrence from Spice and Wolf behind the glass of an art exhibit. Seeing them in that context helped me to remember that anime is more than just TV or cosplay, it’s a true work of art (even the super porny ones).

Wall scrolls of the past, meet the wall scrolls of today. I happen to be the proud owner of a Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess wall scroll, and it's pretty snazzy, if I do say so myself.

It’s kind of funny that had I visited even last year I wouldn’t have gotten half as much out of the Japanese pavilion as I did last week. Say what you will about anime fandom, but it really does provide a gateway into a beautiful culture that many don’t get to experience any other way. Thanks to the World Showcase, my appetite for travel has been thoroughly whetted. I’ll keep saving my pennies for a visit to the actual Japan, but until then, Epcot and anime will do nicely. And of course, don’t forget the Pocky!

"Illuminations" fireworks, as seen from Japan. A glorious end to a wonderful trip!

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