Anime Finds You – Part 2A

While on vacation in Florida this past week, I found anime merchandise in another unexpected spot. Read on to learn how even an American animation giant has a few touches of Japanese culture.


Being the avid anime fan that I am, you might not expect me to find much appeal in the work of one Walt E. Disney. Although it’s true I’ve not been a huge admirer of classic Disney characters, like Mickey Mouse, Disney has since acquired other popular studios (Pixar, Lucasfilm, and Marvel Entertainment) which generally find appeal among western anime fans, including me.

Image of darth vader kneeling before dark lord mickey
You can only resist for so long…

So when the chance to visit Walt Disney World came up, courtesy of our friends who had moved to Florida some time back, I was eager to experience it. For those who are unfamiliar, the resort is made up of four theme parks:

  • Magic Kingdom – where you can find all the attractions of Disney’s animated fame.
  • Disney’s Hollywood Studios – the park with all the Star Wars stuff
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom – which is a zoological theme park
  • Epcot – the “grown-up” park, catering to shopping and sight-seeing more than shows and rides.

Being a functional adult whose primary hobby definitely doesn’t involve watching cartoons, I found Epcot to be the most enjoyable part of our trip. While most people who have a passing knowledge of the park can identify its symbolic spherical dome (which is actually a fun ride called Spaceship Earth), hidden behind all that is the World Showcase – a series of 11 international pavilions surrounding a man made lake about 1.2 miles (1.9 km) around. Each of these pavilions is styled after the themes and architecture of the nation they represent, and are staffed by people from their home countries. One of these pavilions, as you may have guessed, is “Japan.”

Image of Tori gate in front of Japan area at Epcot
It’s almost like you’re in Japan if you ignore Spaceship Earth back there.

Right away, the reproduction red tori gate from Hiroshima and the 5 story pagoda (inspired by a shrine at Nara) catch the visitor’s eye. The pagoda and other buildings even have blue roofs with golden fish painted on them to trick storks into landing there – a sign of good luck in Japan.

“Japan,” like the other pavilions, has food and shopping options, but from what I could tell their market, Mitsukoshi, is one of the larger ones in Epcot. The store is actually a chain with headquarters in Tokyo, but Epcot hosts the only branch in North America. They have a wide variety of merchandise, but right up front they have all their anime stuff on display.

Image of the Mitsukoshi store sign

Image of Pokemon plushy display
“This is what you gaijin like, right?”

A lot of what they have is clearly based on what’s popular, as you can’t turn your head without seeing something Pokémon related. They also have a lot of Ghibli stuff, from movies and art to clothing, books, and more. There are display cases with figures and model kits as well, rounding out the standard anime themed market without offering much from less popular work. The other rooms had kimono fitting and other, more traditional, Japanese gifts which were quite fun to browse through as well.

One of the more interesting parts of this location was the Bitsuji-kan gallery, which is a changing exhibit on some aspect of Japanese culture. The current exhibit (at the time of our visit) was named “Kawaii – Japan’s Cute Culture”, featuring the art of Sebastian Matsuda. You can read more on the exhibit and see some photos at this site.

Matsuda explains that Kawaii culture actually has its origins in Shinto, and the various displays of a model Tokyo apartment show how kawaii merchandise has found its way into every corner of the home. It was pretty amusing to see “Cosplay” and “Otaku” explained for the layman, but for people unfamiliar with otaku culture it was a great exhibit to explain this particular brand of escapism and expression.

Lastly, the gifts! We came out of the store spending more than I wanted, but we got some really nice stuff to show for it. The non-anime items selected included a koi fish wind chime, a Buddha board with a water dish, a t-shirt (that everyone at the airport seemed to love), a cat magnet reminiscent of our Mozart, some Japanese candy, and a little Japanese flag (I collect these).

 

For anime items I passed on the Pokemon plushies and Pop Funkos, but did come away with some Ghibli prints and a hand fan that the store clerk from Saitama kindly wrote Kimmie’s name on (Ke-mi-i in Hirigana: け み い). We also got “The Manga Cookbook” which technically isn’t anime but it has instructions to make Japanese dishes using a manga style format.

On the Ghibli pictures, the rightmost edge is kind of strange. Anyone know what these are for? My guess was to put in a photo album.

print_edge


I hope you enjoyed my recap of unexpected anime finds during our trip. Let me know what you think in the comments, and check back for the second part as I attended another event during this same trip in which I actually did expect to find some anime.

 

16 thoughts on “Anime Finds You – Part 2A

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      1. Yeah, it’s pretty easy to dump loads of cash at a theme park without realizing it. I’m glad that when we went to Disney World/California Adventure we went with my niece who worked there at the time. Saved us tons just on the admission.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. I’ve never been to Disney World, not even to Euro Disney, but I do plan to go there one day. This really looks cool, I did not even know there was a section about Japan in the park. Looks like you really had a good time, and the merchandise you found looks truly awesome. Thanks for sharing this! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post and it’s interesting how anime and Disney have Influenced each other through the years.

    Looks like a fun vacation with some interesting stops and purchases. Thank you for sharing with us.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh gosh, that looked so cool! I’ve always wanted to go to Disney World/Hollywood Studios/Harry Potter World/Epcot Center…(basically, any of those places, or ideally all)
    Well, now I know the place to go! That place looks amazing, with all the anime and Ghibli prints. Nice! Now I just want to go even more, haha. I definitely want to go there somewhere in my lifetime.
    Also, where else did you go, besides Epcot?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mm, I highly recommend spending some time (and money) at the Japan Pavilion if you do ever do get a chance to visit Epcot.

      We got to check out Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios as well, thanks to our amazing friend. All around a lot of fun. We also visited a con that happened to be taking place in the area, which I’ll have a short post about soon.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. If I ever get a chance, I will definitely make sure to go there. It looks amazing!

        Oh gosh, I am so jealous! What was there? (I’m not very educated about Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios…I’ve only been to the Disneyland in California, and that was years ago, so it’s really different now).

        And I look forward to the post about the con!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Magic Kingdom feels mostly geared toward kids and big fans of the classic Disney movies. It had a lot of rides too, with fun stuff like the Jungle Cruise and classic attractions like Haunted Mansion and Big Thunder Mountain.

          Hollywood Studios has the Tower of Terror, but there are a lot of shows too and occasional Stormtroopers that harass guests. We caught a cute Beauty and the Beast stage show, as it was Kimmie’s favorite Disney animated movie.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Oh, nice! It still sounds like loads of fun, to be honest.
            I think Disneyland had a similar Hollywood Studios with the Tower of Terror, but this was way before they acquired Star Wars. “The occasional stormtroopers that harass guests” sound like they’re fun/funny too! And aw, the stage show sounds really cool too!

            Liked by 1 person

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