A Taste Of Japan

 

Known for its vibrant and eclectic culture just as much as their warm and uber friendly people, it’s no wonder Japan stays at the tip of the tongue of most people when you ask them what their must-visit travel destination is.

As irresistible as a getaway to this pristine paradise might sound, most of our savings and schedules probably don’t allow it. So while we wait for the next vacation period to roll around and try to keep our piggy banks well-fed, here are 11 activities that will allow you to experience Nihon, right here at home.

 

1. Course through the food streets of Japan… at Singapore’s wild West

 

Japanese Activities In Singapore - Japan Food Street Jurong Point Boon LaySource

Within a shopping mall at Jurong West is probably the last place you’d expect to find a mock Japanese food street, yet here we are in the iridescent confines of Jurong Point. Stunning decor and colourful flashing lights in the style of real-life Japanese streets make the experience all the more surreal.

Japanese Activities In Singapore - Jurong Point Street FoodSource

Eat to your heart’s content along the rows of patisseries, grills and various food stands available. Make sure you check out their renowned buffets as well! We’ve heard that Kuishin Bo in particular serves up a delectable and value-for-money Kyushu and Okinawan spread that’ll leave you super stuffed and utterly satisfied.

Address: Jurong Point, 1 Jurong West Central 2, S(648886)
Opening hours: 10am – 10pm daily
Website

 

2. Be part of a legit Japanese tea ceremony

 

Japanese Activities In Singapore - Hashida Garo Tea CeremonySource

At Hashida Garo, located in Mandarin Gallery, a traditional tea master sits atop the tatami platform and handcrafts the perfect cup of piping hot matcha tea just for you. You’ll be taught the secrets to optimum enjoyment, from holding the mug in your hand the right way to the delicate and precise method of swirling the tea before each sip.

The traditional method of tea preparation in Japan is an art form in itself. And now you’ll get to experience it yourself in the middle of Orchard Road! Pick from the simpler teas like black or sencha, or even the peculiar-sounding vegetable option.

Japanese-Activities In Singapore - Hashida Garo Tea Mandarin Gallery DessertsSource

Dainty sweets are also on offer, making the perfect accompaniment to your calming afternoon tea session.

Address: #02-37 Mandarin Gallery, 333A Orchard Road S(238897)
Opening hours: Tues to Sun 12pm – 3pm & 7pm – 10pm, closed on Mon
Website

 

3. Take a trip to the Japanese Garden for a new taste of tranquility

 

Japan Activities In Singapore - Japanese Garden JurongSource

There’s no better way to remove yourself from the hustle and bustle of city life and get reconnected with nature. Said to be designed specifically to evoke inner peace and serenity, the garden sports influences from ancient Japanese eras. Check out the gorgeous elements like arched bridges, stone lanterns and koi ponds!

The sheer beauty in nature coming together with historical architecture is truly a sight to behold. It definitely makes for the perfectly picturesque picnic setting, or the backdrop for a mini photoshoot. New profile pic, anyone?

Address: Yuan Ching Road, Jurong East S(619795)
Opening hours: 6am – 7pm daily

 

4. Get cozy in a cosplay maid cafe

 

Japanese Activities In Singapore - Maid Cafe WaitressesSource

Nothing gets as uniquely Japanese quite as brunching at a cafe and getting tended to by waitresses in cutesy maid uniforms. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to fly abroad to experience this wacky form of dining. There are maid cafes right on our sunny shores!

Unfortunately, they’ve either ceased operations or are in the midst of relocating, for example Cawaii Koohii which used to be at Funan DigitaLife Mall.

Japanese Activities In Singapore - Maid CafeSource

Fret not, however, as there’s a “pop-up maid cafe” you can still check out each year at the Asia Anime Fest. To find out exactly when the award-winning Moe Moe Kyun maid cafe will be in town, follow their updates on Facebook!

Contact: contact@sozo.sg
Website

 

5. Visit Cafe Muji for your most minimalistic cafe-hopping experience yet

 

Japanese Activities In Singapore - Muji Cafe Orchard ParagonSource

Diehard fans of the legendary lifestyle and retail group hailing from Japan are already familiar with its understated concept. Now with a spanking new cafe opened right in town, Cafe&Meal Muji will leave you with happy tummies as well.

Japanese Activities In Singapore - Muji Cafe Orchard Paragon FoodSource

Taking utmost pride in preparing wholesome yet delicious meals, the Cafe&Meal Muji whips up all their dishes from carefully selected seasonal ingredients. Think of it as fancy cai fan (economic rice) or cafeteria style dining that’s amped up on nutrients. Healthy, organic food never tasted this good!

Dig in amidst their minimalist and cozy surroundings, decked out in Muji merchandise that you can pick up for your own home should anything tickle your fancy.

Address: #04-36 Orchard Paragon, 290 Orchard Road S(238859)
Opening hours: 10am – 9.30pm daily
Website

 

6. Stock up on Japanese grocery goodness at Meidi-Ya

 

Japanese Activities In Singapore - Liang Court Meidi YaSource

There’s a reason why all Japanese housewives here on the little red dot flock to Meidi-Ya at Liang Court. A one-stop supermarket for every Japanese food item imaginable, Meidi-Ya spells quality, variety and freshness that locals and expats have come to know and love.

Even if you’re not here to pick up groceries, there’s no denying the fun that lies behind browsing through the aisles and checking out all the exotic snacks. They even had a little TV station where they’d air Doraemon for tiny tots waiting on their mums! Ahh, childhood memories.

Japanese Activities In Singapore - Liang Court TV DoraemonSource  Such simple joys!

Address: 177 River Valley Rd, #B1-50 Liang Court Shopping Centre, S(179030)
Opening hours: 10am – 10pm daily
Website

 

7. Reel in the freshest sashimi at Anchorpoint

 

 Japanese Activities In Singapore - Sakuraya Fish Mart

Who would have thought that you’d be able to find such high quality seafood, right in the heart of a Singapore? Tucked away in the basement of Anchorpoint shopping centre near Queenstown is Sakuraya Fish Mart, which retails some of the freshest seafood you’ll find islandwide.

Japanese Activities In Singapore - Sakuraya Fish Market SashimiSource

After your shopping list is all checked off, give yourself a little treat before you head home by indulging in a platter of fresh cut sashimi. They’re known to have some pretty attractive lunch deals, so make sure to follow them on Facebook and keep your eyes peeled!

Address: 370 Alexandra Road, S(159953)
Opening hours: 10.30am – 10pm
Website

 

8. Pet some kawaii kitties at a Japanese cat cafe

 

Japanese Activities In Singapore - Neko No Niwa Cat CafeSource

Conceptualised by a Singaporean pair after several cat cafe trips all throughout Japan, Neko No Niwa is your best bet of having an authentic Japanese cat cafe experience without leaving the country. Home to a total of 13 friendly felines were all been rescued as strays or abandoned pets, each has its own personality and quirks but are all equally adorable.

Snuggle up and enjoy a cuppa while the cuties come purring affectionately at you. Students even get to enjoy a FREE hot chocolate if they’re sticking around for three hours or more!

Address: 54A Boat Quay Level 2 S(049843)
Opening hours: Wed to Mon 11am – 10pm, closed on Tues
Website

 

9. Go on a tasting tour of Takashimaya’s basement of treats

 

Japanese Activities In Singapore - Takashimaya Food Basement Ngee Ann CitySource

Takashimaya’s basement is widely known as THE place to hit up if you’re in town and hankering for some hearty japanese nosh. Besides a full fledged international supermarket with tonnes of Japanese goodies on offer, the basement level is also home to an array of food stalls.

Japanese Activities In Singapore - Takashimaya Basement FoodSource

From famous Japanese bakeries and mini taiyakis to a yakisoba stand where oodles of noodles are prepared on order, I could easily have a filling meal just by touring the various stores and having a food adventure!

Address: 391 Orchard Road Basement 2, Ngee Ann City S(238873)
Opening hours: 10am – 9.30pm daily
Website

 

10. Have a sumo-sized shopping spree and feast at Emporium Shokuhin

 

 Japanese Activities In Singapore - Emporium Shokuhin Snacks

A live seafood dealer, grocer, and dining establishment combined in one convenient setting, Emporium Shokuhin is a food wonderland. The ultimate dream come true for any Japanese cuisine lover, the emporium has a huge selection of fresh foods and groceries available for purchase.

 Japanese Activities In Singapore - Emporium Shokuhin Crab

Going on an all-out grocery shopping spree throughout the vast spaces is sure to work up one helluva killer appetite. Which is just as well that there are a whopping EIGHT different dining concepts at Emporium Shokuhin. You’ll be spoilt for choice but wherever you wind up, rest assured that you’ll be chowing down on Japanese fare fit for a king.

Address: #01-18 Marina Square, 6 Raffles Avenue S(039594)
Opening hours: 10am – 10pm daily
Website

 

Escape To The Land Of The Rising Sun

 

Whether you’re just starting to learn about its colourful culture or are already well-versed in all things Japan, you’re sure to get a real kick out of everything on this list.

Instead of wasting yet another weekend on the same old uninspired activities, try immersing yourself in a little piece of Japan for a change. You’d be surprised by how enriching it is and who knows? It might serve as a catalyst for you to book that air ticket and go for the real deal!

Japanese Activities In Singapore - Super Japan Esplanade PerformancePhoto Courtesy of Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay

As 2016 marks the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Singapore and Japan, there’s no better time for us to go forth and explore their culture. Take advantage of the Super Japan festival while they’re in town and go bask in the authentic vibes the iconic land has to offer. This is Japanese arts and culture like you’ve never seen before!

Super Japan – Japanese Festival of Arts
When: 13 – 22 May 2016
Where: The Esplanade
Website: Click here

Tickets are available at Esplanade’s Box Office, over the SISTIC Hotline (6348 5555), and at all SISTIC outlets.

Update as of 3rd May 2018: The event has ended

Click here to embark on a super fun, Super Japan journey now!


This post was brought to you by Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay.