Spirited Beasts is a walking tour of creatures throughout Japanese history and mythology located in the Bijutsu-kan gallery.
Bijutsu-kan (a collection of Japenese arts) refers to the exhibit space while Spirited Beasts is the name of the exhibit. The sign outside the exhibit reads, “Spirited Beasts from Ancient Stories to Anime Stars”.
Signs inside the gallery inform guests of the following:
From Ancient Stories to Anime Stars
For centuries, heroic animals and magical creatures have appeared in traditional Japanese myths, stories and art. Today, they are the heroes and villains of Japan’s manga comics and anime. These “spirited beasts” from Japan’s past have become pop culture superstars, known and loved around the world.
A Spirited Beast Becomes a Modern Superstar
The ancient legend of the Moon Rabbit, seen here as a handmade paper collage, was the inspiration for this modern anime star, Mina Tsukishiro, the powerful leader of the lunar-based Rabbit Force.
Join us as we celebrate these mysterious, magical and mischievous animal figures.
The individual exhibits contain masks, artwork and other artifacts. Each display has a specific focus and they are as follows:
These magical fox spirits grow extra tails as they gain in age, wisdom and power. They are expert tricksters, and may even take on human form. Kitsune characters are popular in kabuki drama, and in some of today’s most popular manga and anime series.
The monkey, called saru in Japenese, is a popular subject of art, and is often depicted as guardian of sacred shrines and temples. The famous Monkey King is well loved in Japan, where he is known as Son Goku.
Though it is a real species, Japan’s “raccoon-dog”, tanuki, is best known as a creature of myth. A magical trickster, the shape-shifting tanuki can also be wise and spiritual. A tanuki figure wearing a straw hat and carrying a sake bottle signals good fortune to shopkeepers.
Kappa are mythical water sprites that live in Japan’s lakes and streams. They have turtle-like shells, webbed feed and, often, a beaked face. A bowl-like indentation on top of the head holds water, the source of their mighty sumo wrestling ability.
Tsuru, the beautiful Japanese crane, has adorned Japanese art and decor for centuries, and is a symbol of happiness, prosperity and world peace. Folding one thousand paper cranes, known as Senbazuru, is believed to grant a wish.
Legend tells of a rabbit who, having no food to give an old beggar, offered himself instead. The beggar was actually a deity, and he rewarded the rabbit’s compassion by enshrining him on the moon. The Moon Rabbit, or Tsuki no Usagi, can be seen on a full moon night, pounding out rice cakes with a wooden mallet.
Bakeneko & Inugami
Bakeneko, the cat spirit, can walk on its hind legs, conjure ghostly fire and impersonate humans Inugami, the brave dog spirit is magically gifted, and fiercely loyal to friends. Those who would try to capture and control this powerful being will regret it!
The winged warriors of the mountains, tengu are formidable guardians of nature. Combining human features with birdlike beaks, wings and talons, they command a vast knowledge of magic, and may teach their ways to only the worthiest humans.
Oni are demon spirits often depicted as giant ogres with ox horns, tiger teeth, and a huge metal club. Oni are nearly invincible in a fight, but legends tell of wise monks and heroic monkey warriors bold enough to take on these fierce creatures.
The storytelling scrolls of centuries ago have given way to today’s manga and anime tales. These colorful banners continue an old tradition, but with a new look. Decorating the walls of fans around the world, they keep the mighty spirited beasts of ancient times alive today!
TIMES GUIDE - OPENING/CLOSING
This location typically opens at 11 AM with the rest of World Showcase.
While the attraction does not have an official sponsor, a sign inside the exhibit entrance thanks the individuals that helped contribute to the Gallery:
Epcot wishes to thank the following individuals and institutions for their gracious support of this exhibition.
Arthur M. Sackler Galley, Smithsonian Institution, Washing, D.C. The Anne van Bieme Collection S2004.3.168.10 detail of Bravery Matched with the Twelve (Zodiac) Signs: Rooster and Kaldomary (tengu).
The Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery, Scripps College, Claremont, CA The Lucky Tea Kettle of Morin Temple from New Forms of Thirty-Six Ghosts
Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansis, Gift of H. Lee Turner. 1968.0001.257 detail of Actors Onow Kikugaro III and Ichikawa Monnusuke III in Thunderstorm on Banks of Sumida River
Mr. Mitsuo Ogishima, Japanese Outreach Initiatives Coordinator, International Affairs, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL
Mr. and Mrs. Brennan, Windermere, FL