Top Japanese places to visit in London

Top Japanese places to visit in London In this post we have collected our top Japanese places to visit in London. The city has so many places that are connected to Japan in one way or another. In our top Read more

Best art, crafts and stationery shops in Tokyo

Best art, crafts and stationery shops in Tokyo As a person who love all things art and crafts I've hunted down the best shops that I could find during my travels in Tokyo. Here's a guide to my personal favourites. Read more

Japan Candy Box review + giveaway

Japan Candy Box This is a promotional post. The Japan Candy Box was kindly sent to us to try and review for Why So Japan. We've been wanting to try a Japanese themed box for a long time now and thanks Read more

Japanese TV Adverts #54

It's been a while since we last posted about Japanese TV adverts from YouTube user JPCMHD who uploads them regularly. They're always fun to watch, and the latest upload includes adverts for Mouse the computer company, Y! Mobile with Read more

Elvis Presley’s influence in Japan

This is a collaborative post. Often referred to as “the King of Rock and Roll” or simply “the King,” Elvis Presley’s influence and image makes him one of the most significant cultural icons of the 20th century. He’s so popular Read more

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Top Japanese places to visit in London

whysojapan Top Japanese places to visit in London

Top Japanese places to visit in London

In this post we have collected our top Japanese places to visit in London. The city has so many places that are connected to Japan in one way or another. In our top list we’ve tried to cover a mixture of different types of places that have some connection to Japan or Japanese culture. We know that there are a lot of Japanese restaurants in London, but since we are not based in London we have not really been able to visit many of them to give our opinions about them. While visiting London we always try to find time to visit a few of the locations below. If you are short on time, we recommend visiting Japan Centre, Umai and JP Books which are all in a very close walking distance to each other.

Japan Centre

whysojapan Top Japanese places to visit in London japan centre

whysojapan Top Japanese places to visit in London japan centre whysojapan Top Japanese places to visit in London japan centre

Japan Centre has a big selection of Japanese groceries. What you can find is ready to go fresh meals, snacks, and ingredients so that you can make your own Japanese food at home. They also have sake, stationery, magazines, cooking utensils and more. Our favourite treat that we always take with us from the store are the freshly made mochi balls.
Map | Website

Umai

whysojapan Top Japanese places to visit in London umai

whysojapan Top Japanese places to visit in London umai whysojapan Top Japanese places to visit in London umai

Situated just outside the Japan Centre is Umei. A great place to grab a quick a typical Japanese street food. We normally buy takoyaki, but other options are available on their menu. After that we normally pop by to JP Books.
Map | Website

JP Books

whysojapan Top Japanese places to visit in London books

whysojapan Top Japanese places to visit in London books whysojapan Top Japanese places to visit in London books
JP Books is around the corner from the Japan Centre and Umei, on Denman Street. You will find this well-stocked book shop selling lots of Japanese books, stationery, magazines, nick-nacks. It is a great place to pick up the latest CD from your favourite J-pop group, like Perfume.
Map | Website

ArtBox

whysojapan Top Japanese places to visit in London art box
ArtBox is the go-to shop for all things cute and kawaii. In store you can expect to find character goods like Rilakkuma, Pusheen, Gudetama, Hello Kitty and more, stationery, plushies, homeware, and accessories. If you’re after something cute and Japanese, we recommend popping into Artbox to browse. The shop’s exterior has changed since we last visited due to a new location.
Map | Website

Chinatown Bakery

whysojapan Top Japanese places to visit in London chinatown bakery

whysojapan Top Japanese places to visit in London chinatown bakery whysojapan Top Japanese places to visit in London chinatown bakery
Even though it’s ChinaTown, you can still find some Japanese gems there, like the cute fish-shaped cake TaiYaki. We have such great memories of eating them in Japan, so we were really happy to find them in London. They’re a lot smaller than the Japanese standard size, but that just means you can have more than one.
Map | Website

Muji

whysojapan Top Japanese places to visit in London muji

Muji is a well-known brand in Japan. Thanks to their success they have a lot of international stores. Their style is minimalistic and practical, usually white, grey or wood. Typical items you can find in the store are storage solutions, little notebooks, plastic folders, travel items, cutlery, home fragrance and lots more. Last time we were in store we bought a lovely wooden fruit bowl.
Map | Website

Uniqlo

whysojapan Top Japanese places to visit in London uniqlo

Another store with international success is Uniqlo. They have a wide range of basic clothes of all colours for your wardrobe. The clothes are minimalistic and aesthetic pleasing on the eyes. They reason we started shopping at Uniqlo was their heattech range, which are thin clothes with a special Japanese technology to keep you warm.
Map | Website

Las Vegas Arcade Soho

whysojapan Top Japanese places to visit in London las vegas

whysojapan Top Japanese places to visit in London las vegas whysojapan Top Japanese places to visit in London las vegas
Not many places outside of Japan house so many fun and exciting Japanese arcade machines. Luckily enough Las Vegas Arcade Soho has a great selection of Japanese arcade games. Some of our favourites being Jubeat, GrooveCoaster, Taiko no Tatsujin and many more. Sometimes there can be queues to the games, but they’re well worth the wait.
Map | Website

JapanCraft Camden Lock

whysojapan Top Japanese places to visit in London japan craft
Hidden inside Camden Market you will find the little Japan Craft shop. They stock a nice selection of Japanese puzzle boxes, daruma dolls and a small selection of Japanese sweets. Perfect shop to pop into if you are in the Camden area.
Map | Website

Hyper Japan

whysojapan Top Japanese places to visit in London hyper japan christmas market
HyperJapan is a bi-annually event which hosts concerts, demonstrations, lots of independent shops and stalls, selling all things Japanese and Japanese inspired. Check out our full review from our past visit: Hyper Japan Christmas Market
Website

ComicCon

whysojapan Top Japanese places to visit in London

MCM Comic Con London, which is also held twice a year, has a large area dedicated to Japanese inspired goods and food stalls. We have a full review from a past event here: Japan EX MCM Comic Con London
Website

If you have any tips of places in London that we should visit and share with our readers, please comment below. We are always happy to visit and discover new places.

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Posted on by Vega @ whysojapan.com in Shopping, Visiting Leave a comment

Vending machines in Japan

whysojapan vending machines tokyo japan

Vending machines

Japan has the most amount of vending machines per person in the world. Because of the population of people and there is a very limited, space vending machines are very popular things in Japan. A lot of people on foot and bike use them. Since there is very little crime in Japan it is not that often you will find a vending machine vandalized leaving it out of order, which makes them a great way of selling things to people that are on the move.

You find vending machines everywhere in Tokyo. It seems every small side street, car park and train station will have at least one. Normally it will be a row of them, selling different sorts of drinks.

whysojapan vending machines tokyo japan whysojapan vending machines tokyo japan

The most common vending machine we have come across while out in Tokyo was the drink ones where you normally find fizzy drinks, like Coca-Cola and Pepsi. You will also find a lot of machines that just sell energy drinks too, and then you have the machines that sell warm drinks. Sometimes there will be a machine for each sort of product and in some of them you can find all of the above products in the same machine. The cold drinks are normally marked with a blue colour around the selection button, and the hot drinks would have a red colour around them. Depending on what time of the year is it, the hot drinks might be available more or less.

whysojapan vending machines tokyo japan whysojapan vending machines tokyo japan whysojapan vending machines tokyo japan

You can also find vending machines that sell hot food, like burger and fries and other fast food styl . Even though I looked for the machines I haven’t been able to find one in Tokyo as of yet. Other machines sell hot pasta noodles, which I’ve seen at a hotel we stayed in. A perfect late snack. And then, of course, there are machines that sell different candies.

whysojapan vending machines tokyo japan

Other machines that are a bit different can be ones that sell bananas, books and umbrellas, which all can come in handy of course. Machines that sell alcohol have a smart card reader on them that you have to swipe a card to prove your age.

A lot of smaller restaurants use vending machines to sell their food. Normally the machine will just be outside the entrance of the restaurant. On the machine you will find pictures of the different dishes available to buy. You put your money in, choose the dish you want, and then it prints out a ticket that you take in to the restaurant and hand over to the staff to get your food.

whysojapan vending machines tokyo japan whysojapan_vending_machines_tokyo_japan_06 whysojapan vending machines tokyo japan

You can also use your Suica transport prepaid card to buy stuff. The machines will detect the amount due from your card for you, which comes in handy if you don’t have any other money on you at the time.

Some vending machines even have cameras in them that try to detect what sort of mood you are in and decide what sort of drink would suit that mood.

Do you have any experiences with vending machines in Japan?

whysojapan vending machines tokyo japan

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Posted on by Paul in Food & snacks 1 Comment

Bento and kyaraben – lunch boxes in Japan

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Bento

Bento (弁当) or obento is a home made or takeout meal box. People in Japan can make it as a lunch box or picnic food, or buy it in bento shops, convenient stores and other places that sell ready meals. A bento box is usually shaped like a box and contains rice, vegetables and fish or meat, divided into sections. Bento boxes are very popular during hanami season (read more about how hanami is celebrated)

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Left photo by Janine / ninacoco
Right phot by Rodger Takeuchi

Kyaraben

The word kyaraben (キャラ弁) or charaben is a shorter version of “character bento” and it’s what a lot of people think of when they hear the word bento. The word itself describes what it is very well. Its a bento box where the food is arranged to look like characters, usually in a cute manner. It can be animals, famous characters, people and objects. From the beginning, this was something mothers did for their children when they prepared their lunch boxes. They wanted to treat their children to fun and cute food and to encourage the children to eat better, such as vegetables and other things they otherwise might not enjoy. Kyaraben has now grown so big that there are contests all over Japan. One of the bigger kyaraben contest is the Sanrio contest. What the contestants have come up with there is amazing, have a look at the results page:
http://sanriobb.com/charaben/result/

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Tools and decorations

There are a lot of tools and decorations that people use to make their kyaraben boxes. Shapers to form the rice or the eggs, sandwich cutters, punches to punch shapes and faces out of seaweed, plastic grass for decorations, food picks to stick in the food, and more. Whenever Im in Japan I always go to the bento section of the shops to see what fun I can find, and I always find something cute to buy.

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Where to buy

Where do you find these tools and decorations then? In Tokyo I found them at Tokyu Hands, Loft, 100 yen stores (like Daiso) and Hakuhinkan Toy Park. Im sure you can find them in other shops as well. Outside of Japan Ive found bento things in some asian shops, like food shops in China town and similar. Another place to look for them is online, on sites like Amazon. Search for “bento mould”, “bento punch” or “bento picks” for example, and see what shows up.

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Inspiration on Pinterest

We are on Pinterest and of course we have a bento and kyaraben board. Check it out for inspiration, and maybe you want to create your own cute lunch box to brighten your day.
Our bento board on Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/whysojapan/japanese-kyaraben-bento/

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BBC video report

BBC has a great video about Japan’s amazing lunchboxes. They write “…in Japan, it is not just the taste and healthiness of the meal that is important – but how it looks.” In the video the reporter visits Japanese school kids during their lunch break (the children are so adorable!) and he meets a woman who makes amazing bento boxes.





Posted on by Vega @ whysojapan.com in Food & snacks 1 Comment

Convenience stores Japan

why so japan familymart convenience store

Convenience stores for a busy lifestyle

When in Tokyo you cant miss the amount of convenience stores that are around. One of the most well known is 7-Eleven. It can be found all other the world, but did you know that Japan has the most 7-Eleven locations than the rest of the world? Convenience stores have an important roll in Japan. Since everyone works so hard with little time to spare, a convenience store like 7-Eleven is great.

7-Eleven

In most 7-Eleven here in Europe you can buy food to eat or do some shopping to take home. In Japan they also sell DVDs and some electrical goods. 7-Eleven also runs its own bank, called Seven Bank. A lot of 7-Eleven stores have there own ATM in store, which accepts forgein cards and the machines also have an English menu system which can come in handy. 7-Eleven, like Lawson and FamilyMart, also have copying services and fax machine services, and they also sell concert tickets in store.

Lawson

Lawson is very like 7-Eleven in the ways that stuff that are sold. Lawson also sells lots of tickets for concerts and you can order stuff via amazon.co.jp and pay for them in store if you don’t own a credit card.

FamilyMart

FamilyMart is the third biggest convenience store company in Japan, with 7-Eleven in first place and Lawson in second place. FamilyMart offers some of same services as Lawson and 7-Eleven.
why so japan convenience store

Fun promotions

Convenience stores normally have promotions with other companies. Like a while ago Lawson ran one where you could collect stickers to then send in and recieve a Rilakkuma mug back.

Fun to browse

I always find it fun wherever I am in the world to try and visit a convenience store, because its the perfect place to find something new to try or to even pick up a weird present for person back home.

Most convenience stores sell everything food wise. You can also buy alcohol in the stores and a lot have hot food available for purchase.

Whats your take on convenience stores in Japan? Do you think they have more to offer than the ones back home?
Image credit: kalleboo and erysimum9





Posted on by Paul in Shopping, Visiting Leave a comment