A Purely Japanese Outing in London

I have recently visited a number of Japan-related sights and places in London, UK, and I thought I would share on this blog my itinerary and highlights. I apologise in advance for my sparse and inadequate photos, but I hope the post is still informative and interesting. 🎌

My first stop was the Japan Centre at 35 Panton Street, close to Leicester Square. I just love this place for all things Japanese. The shop offers not only a variety of Japanese food for sale, but also some gifts and souvenirs, including Japanese books, magazines and postcards. There is also a café inside where one can indulge in all kinds of Japanese food, from rice and ramen to matcha ice-cream. Another much bigger Japan Centre is located at the Westfield shopping centre in London and that shop is called Ichiba (市場), meaning “market” in Japanese. It also has a restaurant-café inside and plenty of Japanese merchandise. 🥢

The Japanese edition of the The Little Prince by Saint-Exupéry which I bought at Foyles

My second stop was the Japanese language section at one of favourite bookshops in London – Foyles, located at 107 Charing Cross Road (flagship store). After JP Books closed in the same area some years ago, this shop became the place to go for all bookish things related to Japan. The Foyles’s Japanese section has a wide selection of Japanese study guides and textbooks, manga, stationery and also popular books translated to Japanese, including Harry Potter. I once saw there an amazing Japanese edition of Akira Yoshimura’s Shipwrecks and I still regret I did not buy it. However, the biggest drawback is that books from Japan in this store are quite expensive. 📕

Next, I ventured further to Japan House, located at 101-111 Kensington High Street, London. This place is described as the one which “aims to nurture a deeper understanding and appreciation of Japan in the international community”. Its two other hubs are located in Los Angeles, US and Sao Paulo, Brazil. The Japan House in London has an exhibition place, a library, a place to buy quirky merchandise from Japan, and a café where you can buy a hojicha latte (a latte made from Japanese roasted green tea) and sencha tea to take away, among other drinks and foodstuffs. Previously, the place hosted such exhibitions as “The Art of Naoki Urasawa” and “Anno’s Journey: The World of Anno Mitsumasa”. Naoki Urasawa is a famous manga artist known for a hugely popular manga Pluto, inspired by the work of the manga legend Tezuka Osamu, as well as his manga series Master Keaton and Billy Bat. Anno Mitsumas was a famous Japanese illustrator and children‘s books author. He was primarily known for his Anno’s world series of books for children, which contained a lot of detailed illustrations inspiring children to be inquisitive and be interested in different cultures, countries and history. On the second floor of Japan House there is a Japanese restaurant AKIRA where you can order bento lunch boxes to take away, Special Wagyu beef noodle for lunch or a five course menu for dinner which includes a selection of sushi and assorted sashimi, among other dishes. 🏮

Tombo Cafe front sign

Next, I stopped at a small Japanese garden in Holland Park – the Kyoto Garden, which was “constructed [by the Kyoto Chamber of Commerce and Industry ] as part of the Japan Festival 1991 on the occasion of the centenary of the Japan Society in Britain”. This lovely place has plenty of Japanese vegetation, a lake, tiered waterfalls and traditional stone lanterns toro. ⛲ Finally, I finished my trip with a visit to Japanese café Tombo (meaning “dragonfly” in Japanese) located at 29 Thurloe Place, South Kensington. It was opened in 2009 and now have three premises in different locations. The food and drink on offer include noodles, sushi, donburi and green tea, as well as a wide range of delicious desserts from sakura baked cheesecake to matcha gateau. 🧁

Although I did not manage to visit it this time, I also recommend Japanese family-run restaurant Abeno in London, located at 47 Museum Street. It is a rather small, but cosy and welcoming place that specialises in the authentic Osaka-style Okonomi-yaki cuisine. Okonomi-yaki (おこのみやき) is a delicious Japanese savoury pancake dish that may include a variety of different ingredients, and Abeno’s menu offers Tofu-mix, bacon and cheese or pork okonomi-yaki, as well as other varieties. The restaurant’s location close to the British Museum and London Review Bookshop makes it an ideal resting place after a bookish and cultural trip to the city. 🗾

11 thoughts on “A Purely Japanese Outing in London

  1. A lovely serenade to these themed locations, Diana. My eye was drawn to the komaruya uchiwa you pictured as I have childhood memories of these, probably from my time in Hong Kong (even though I associate the island with folding fans, often with lacquered finishes). This one from your photo looks concave, which seems a much more effective way of cooling oneself than one with a flat surface.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great inspiration! I am a frequent visitor to Japanese restaurants, but haven’t visited the other places you mention. Since I an intrigued by Japanese culture, I really ought to! Most of all, I wish to go to Japan. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow, this was just way too cool because I know of Japan Centre because they are a listing on my site. Although the cool thing is to read somebody’s first hand experience with that business and many more. What an extensive post!

    Liked by 1 person

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