With travel restrictions still in place, it’s likely that this will be our new normal for a while. But if you’ve been feeling the itch of cabin fever, we’ve put together a guide on having your own Japan fakecation right here in Singapore.
It might not be exactly the same but we’ve put together a list of places where you can get to experience zen, relax in onsen spas and indulge in Japanese food, all within Singapore. You could take a day’s leave to enjoy everything on this list with the family over their school holidays or do it over the weekend.
From scenes that feel like Kyoto and Osaka’s iconic landmarks to convenience stores and restaurants that have the freshest sashimi, here are nine places in Singapore that feel like Japan.
The once dizzying Daimon Food Alley in Jurong Point that resembles the Dotonburi street in Osaka is now rebranded to a sleek Japanese dining destination featuring popular Japanese restaurants, including Roman Tei, Ramen KIOU, and more. You’ll find ramen and beef steak rice from Osaka, affordable sushi, charcoal-grilled yakitori, and freshly-baked Neapolitan pizza with Japanese toppings, it’s the perfect family-friendly place to feel like you’re walking down the street of Dotonburi
Where: Jurong Point, Basement 1 (#B1-47) and 1 Kim Seng Promenade #B1-132 Great World City Singapore 237994
The Japanese Cemetery Park has been around since the 1890s but has only been made popular in recent years for its bougainvillea flower archway making its rounds on social media. The cemetery, which is now a memorial park, is great for a tranquil stroll while soaking in the history and stories of fallen soldiers, young prostitutes, and Japanese civilians who once inhabited our land. The prayer hall built-in 1986 is well-preserved and maintained. Though it’s out of bounds to the public, you’ll be able to take a peek at the interior through a small window.
Where: 22 Chuan Hoe Ave, Singapore 549854
A trip to Kyoto would not be complete without a picture of the iconic Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, that is if you have the patience to wait for the crowd to clear for the perfect shot. Unbeknownst to busy shoppers and transiting travelers, we actually have a mini bamboo forest in Jewel Changi Airport, located beside D’Good Cafe. Step into the forest grove for a brief transportation into what feels like Kyoto’s Arashiyama Bamboo Grove.
Where: 78 Airport Blvd, Singapore 819666
The famous row of torii gates at Fushimi Inari Shrine is recreated at Koma Singapore, a Japanese restaurant in Marina Bay Sands. Stretching 20 meters long, the Senbon Torii-inspired entrance to the restaurant will momentarily transport you to Kyoto. Come for the experience that harkens to Japan’s traditions but stay for the food.
Where: Marina Bay Sands, 2 Bayfront Ave, #B1-67, 018972
This might be amongst the top of the list of what you miss most about Japan. Reap the healing benefits of an onsen without leaving Singapore. Ikeda Spa has two branches in Singapore and both provide an escape from the busyness of life.
Ikeda Spa Prestige at Clarke Quay is designed to look like the luxurious ryokans in Japan, where you can soak with the view of Mount Fuji in winter, but of course, you’ll need a little imagination to believe you’re in Japan. The Bukit Timah branch, on the other hand, has a zen garden to relax over a cup of tea and Japanese snacks after the spa session.
Yunomori Onsen & Spa is another alternative. It has a slightly more affordable price range with its sharing onsen pools starting from $38 for its bath and an additional fee for a massage. There’s also an in-house cafe offering Japanese curry, bento, kakigori and more to complete your Japanese indulgence.
- Ikeda Spa Bukit Timah – 787 Bukit Timah Road (Before 6th Ave) Singapore 269762
- Yunomori Onsen & Spa – 1 Stadium Pl, #02-17/18 Wave Mall, Singapore 397628
The Every convenience store is a Japanese konbini in Tiong Bahru that carries rows and rows of Japanese cup noodles, snacks, sweets, and drinks. There’s also a cafe that sells set meals for $10 with rotating a menu every day so that returning customers won’t get tired of eating there.
Where: 593 Havelock Road, #01-03/04, Isetan Office Building, Singapore 169641
It’s no surprise that MUJI is on this list, but aside from its lifestyle and retail section their cafe also prides itself on nutritious and delicious meals. Dishes are carefully selected from seasonal ingredients and it highlights the Japanese dining experience. Using quality ingredients like 16-grain rice, fresh vegetables, and Sakura Chicken & eggs, you’re sure to get the most out of their simple foods that are gentle to the body.
Where: 68 Orchard Road #01-10 to 17, Plaza Singapura, MUJI Plaza, 238839, #02-020/22, Raffles City Shopping Centre, 252 North Bridge Road, Singapore 179103, and #02-227, 228 & 229, Jewel Changi Airport, 78 Airport Boulevard, Singapore 819666.
For quality ingredients that are fresh and authentically Japanese, you can go to Meidi-Ya, Don Don Donki, or Sakuraya. From sashimi, snacks, to even Japanese produce – there’s no denying that the three have gained popularity over the years, and their reputation speaks for themselves. Buy your meals here and dine in or take it home for a night with the family.
- Meidi-Ya – 1 Kim Seng Promenade, #B2-111 to 121 Great World City, Singapore 237994
- Don Don Donki Jem – 50 Jurong Gateway Road, Jem, #02-24/26 & #03-27/29, Singapore 608549
- Don Don Donki JCube – 2 Jurong East Central 1, JCube, #B1-12/18/19, Singapore 609731
- Don Don Donki Central – 6 Eu Tong Sen Street, The Central, #B1 11-28/44-51, Singapore 059817
- Don Don Donki Square 2 – 10 Sinaran Drive, #B1 01-85, Singapore 307506
- Sweet Potato Factory by Don Don Donki – 65 Airport Boulevard, Changi Airport Terminal 3, #02-97, Singapore 819663
- Don Don Donki City Square Mall – 180 Kitchener Road, City Square Mall, #B2 05/18, Singapore 208539
- Don Don Donki 100AM – 100 Tras Street, 100 AM, #02 01- 05/22-26, #03 01-05/09-23, 100AM Singapore 079027
- Don Don Donki Orchard Central – 181 Orchard Road, Orchard Central, #B2 01-10/30/43 & #B1 15-29/K7/K8, Singapore 238896
- Fish Mart Sakuraya West Coast Plaza – 154 West Coast Road#B1-50/51/52 West Coast Plaza Singapore 127371
- Fish Mart Sakuraya Marine Parade – 80 Marine Parade Road#B1-84D Parkway Parade Singapore 449269
- Fish Mart Sakuraya Anchorpoint – 370 Alexandra Road#01-32 Anchorpoint Singapore 159953
- Fish Mart Sakuraya Seletar Mall – 33 Sengkang West Avenue #02-01 The Seletar Mall Singapore 797653
If you’re looking for a cafe experience that’s family-friendly, take the kids out to Neko No Niwa for the experience of a Japanese cat cafe. This cafe was conceptualised after several visits to cat cafes around Japan and is home to 13 adopted cats that were abandoned. Keep in mind that no children below the age of seven are allowed into the cat space for safety reasons!
Where: 54A Boat Quay (Level 2) Singapore 049843
Text: Melissa Goh/Asia One, Additional reporting: Farisia Thang