If Pokemon Go taught us anything in 2016, it's that America is crazier than ever about Japanese culture. Around Orlando, tourists and residents are getting their taste of Japan at new restaurants and shops and even an innovative new theme park area at Universal Studios.
Enjoy Japanese Cuisine from Iron Chef Morimoto
Morimoto Asia recently opened at Disney Springs and offers an array of Asian cuisine as well as authentic Japanese fare, from sushi and sake to savory ramen. Helmed by the Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto, the restaurant offers diners a friendly and accessible way to try international cuisine.
Splurge on Wagyu Beef at the Four Seasons
The Japanese beef known as wagyu is famed for its soft, buttery texture, high marbling ratio and superior taste. For steak lovers, it’s often attested that there is no better steak experience. For 10 evenings, Feb. 10-20, the Matsusaka beef is available at the Four Seasons' premier restaurant, Capa, in a special tasting called “From Matsusaka with Love." The tasting menu is offered for $225 per couple, including a trio of wood-grilled special grade Matsusaka beef: 3-ounce strip loin, 3-ounce tenderloin and 3-ounce ribeye. By definition, Matsusaka beef cattle can only be virgin female cows of the Japanese black wagyu variety that have spent the majority of their lifespan, up till the time of slaughter, in Matsusaka City and its surrounding area and are registered under the Matsusaka Beef Identification and Management System. Matsusaka beef producers spare no effort to produce the highest quality, richest, most finely dispersed marbling possible while managing their cows on a day to day basis. The rich marbling results in an exquisite taste.
Universal Partners With Nintendo
Universal Parks and Resorts is partnering with Nintendo to build interactive theme park areas in Japan, California and Orlando over the next few years. Guests, no matter what their gaming level, will enter for a larger-than-life adventure with their favorite Nintendo characters and scenes, perhaps with man-eating plants, super mushrooms and flower pots that lead to secret tunnels.
“When they’re transported into that world, and they stand there for a moment and see it in front of them like as if they just walked into their game platform, it’s going to be a really exciting time,” said Mark Woodbury, president Universal Creative, in a press announcement.
The two companies haven't shared many details, leaving gaming fans to their own imagination.
Eat, Shop and Play at Epcot's Japan Pavilion
Walt Disney World's Epcot represents Japan as one of 11 countries around the World Showcase.
Guests can enjoy three restaurants, an art gallery, free entertainment from Japanese drummers throughout the day and the Tokyo giant department store, Mitsukoshi. At Mitsukoshi, you'll find everything from gorgeous ceramics, silk kimonos, origami and Japanese garden kits to pop-culture items like candy, trinkets and Hello Kitty, Pokemon and "Power Rangers" toys. Don't miss the jewelry counter, where for $18 you can select your own oyster for a beautiful pearl. Stroll through the lovely Japanese gardens outside while sipping a sake or a cold Kirin beer. Teppan Edo features lively hibachi tables, or for something more upscale, Tokyo Dining is the perfect place for a late dinner where you can catch the 9 pm fireworks show from the expansive windows.
UNIQLO Opens at Disney Springs
This popular Japanese department store has opened its first location in the Southeast at Disney Springs. UNIQLO is known for its casual wear and comfortable, lightweight fabrics. Think Old Navy or H&M prices with Tokyo color and energy. The Orlando location gives a nod to Disney with plenty of character apparel and merchandise, from "Star Wars" and "Toy Story" to Mickey Mouse, but also offers its traditional clothing and retail items as well. Fans of Japanese culture can also find kimonos, lanterns and graphic tees.
Orlando Philharmonic Presents Pokemon Symphonic
At downtown Orlando's stunning Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, the Orlando Philharmonic will play music from new and classic Pokemon video games. Carefully timed visuals will bring the music to life, giving fans a treat for their senses. If your children haven't seen a symphony before, this is the perfect introduction to experience classical music in a family-friendly way. April 30, tickets start at $26