Japan in the UK

Now it is Golden Week in Japan, when four public holidays coincidentally occur in quick succession, meaning the entire country can put their feet up for a week. Nice!
However, when everybody in a densely populated country takes time off at exactly the same time it means flight and hotel prices are so expensive you have to sell a kidney to leave the house, and holiday destinations are more crowded than an Austrian basement.

I’ve emptied my bank account to fly to England for a couple of weeks to attend a family wedding, and I have discovered that the place has become more Japanized in my absense. Whereas not ten years ago most folk would have recoiled in horror at the idea of chomping on raw squid, sushi is now readily available throughout the country.

A chain of Japanese noodle restaurants called Wagamama has also been growing in popularity (although most of the customers are unaware that they’re eating in a place called “Selfish”.)

Manga T-shirts, once only worn by sex-starved comic-book nerds, are now flying off the shelves of high-street shops.

While meeting friends in London’s Soho area, I even ended up strolling through Brewer’s Street, which is a popular place for Japanese and Japanophiles, due to the preponderence of Japanese restaurants and shops. There used to be a popular grocery store called “Arigato” which seems to have disappeared.
An evergreen favourite is the Japanese used-book store operating out of an old dry-cleaning shop. The owners have never bothered to change the sign, and it’s been called “Deluxe Cleaning” for decades.

Highly recommended for ex-pat Japanese, and students of the language.

At least if I end up leaving Japan, I won’t be starved of Japanese culture.

12 Responses to Japan in the UK

  1. simaldeff says:

    Dude you’re in London?! Would you like to come to my graduation celebrating party?! Just get on a low-cost plane and come to Milan … it’s just one hour of flight!
    There is no as un-Japanized a country as Italy I can guarantee it ^^.

  2. ro42g says:

    Man that isn’t nearly enough to satisfy though when you have lived in Japan. New York has a lot more than the UK it seems and it cheaper.

  3. roaf says:

    Yeah, I heard there was even a Book Off in New York.
    There is actually a sort of hidden Japanese community in London. I knew a Japanese girl who lived there and worked in a Japanese hostess bar and went to the karaoke box every week. I have no idea where either of these institutions are!

  4. roaf says:

    Simaldeff- Would love to come to your ceremony, but I’ve got a wedding to attend and various old friends and aging relatives to visit. I’m exhausted!

  5. billywest says:

    How’s that exchange rate eating you up, roaf?

  6. Chris B says:

    If you ever miss it I’ll just send an e-mail blaming you for whatever the latest “crime wave” running through Japan is ;).

  7. roaf says:

    Haha! I actually get emails like that already.
    Well, I’m back in Japan now.

  8. headbang8 says:

    My Japanese other half seldom eats Japanese food outside Japan.

    Number one, nobody is fussy enough about fresh fish. Never eat sushi more than 100 km from the sea, he says.

    Secondly, the Japanese detest Japanese fusion restaurants–like Nobu and Wagamama. You don’t mess with authentic food.

  9. PudgyM says:

    Did you catch any of the intense soccer (football) coverage while there? Either Chelsea or Manchester United are going to be in Japan in December in the FIFA Club World Cup. Which hopefully, I will get to cover.

  10. roaf says:

    HeadBang8- You’re right. They’re certainly sticklers for tradition. Unlike me- I’ll eat anything. When I run out of food, I make spaghetti with peanut butter, or ketchup sandwiches.

    PudgyM- Yeah, everyone was going nuts about the footy when I was at home. My brother in law was mortified that my sister’s wedding was on the same day as one of the matches. I forgot about the Club World Cup. It’d be good to attend that.

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