In designing Epcot’s Japan Pavilion Walt Disney Imagineers incorporated Japanese design principles of balance, harmony, simplicity, formality and delicacy to evoke a sense of serenity and drama, characteristic features of traditional Japanese settings. All major elements are arranged within view of the Pavilion’s central entry point, spanning from the torii gate on the lagoon to the palace walls and the majestic pagoda.
The Japan Pavilion features more recreations of actual buildings or landmarks than perhaps any other World Showcase Pavilion. The stunning red torii gate is based on one at the entrance to the Itsukushima Shrine on the Inland Sea. The five-story, blue-roofed Goju-no-to pagoda, topped with a nine-ringed, bronze spire with golden wind chimes, is inspired by the 8th-century Horyuji Temple at Nara. The fortress in the back represents the 17th-century Shirasagi-Jo, a castle overlooking Hemeji. And of course, to the right of the courtyard stands the two-story Shishinden, which was modeled after a coronation hall at the Imperial Palace at Kyoto. The first floor of Shishinden contains a gift shop presented by the world-famous Misukoshi. Founded in 1673, it is one of the oldest and largest department stores in the world. On the second level, Guests can dine at either Tokyo Dining, an expansive sushi bar presented by three female chefs, or at Teppan Edo, which showcases the food presentation and knife skills of teppanyaki dining.
Walt Disney Imagineers go to great lengths to authenticate design elements. Have you ever looked closely at the base of the Japan Pavilion’s torii gate? To give this manmade structure the appearance of having stood exposed to the sun, water and wind for centuries, Imagineers aged it with faux barnacles and crustaceans.
Barnacles are small marine organisms that attach themselves to rocks, ships and other structures in the ocean, even to large fish and whales and feed themselves on plankton by grabbing them in their featherlike tentacles. Though not necessarily harmful to sealife or the structures to which they adhere, they can reduce boat/ship speed and therefore require sailing vessels to burn more fuel. The cementlike substance they leave behind is also very difficult to remove.
Learn more about the barnacle, even its usefulness, by exploring Wild Fact Sheets. Understand the difference between a limpet and a barnacle, then use modeling clay or Play-Doh to create models of both by following the instructions found at Kindergarten-Lessons.com.
SCHOOL SUBJECT: Marine biology
SKILL LEVEL: Elementary
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