A Guide to Japanese London

What follows is a highly subjective, unbalanced guide to Japanese London. Where can you get green tea Kit-Kats in London? I don’t know and I don’t really care. I love books. Everything else is just ‘other’. RIP Oriental City, NEVER FORGET.

Books:

Adanami Shobo (徒波書房) – 30 Brewer Street, Soho
Tube: Piccadilly Circus
Hours: Open until 8pm.
A small but excellent used bookstore, easily overlooked due to the fact it masquerades as a dry cleaner. Mainly paperbacks, but also has a large collection of hardbacks, manga tankobon, children’s books, and magazines. Staff are friendly and helpful. CDs and DVDs for sale, as well as video rental. Karaoke rooms in the back with special rates during the daytime. Famous visitors include Miyavi and Utada Hikaru, seriously. Update (Dec 29, 2012): Safe for the foreseeable future.

JP Books – basement of Mitsukoshi, 14-20 Regent Street
Tube: Piccadilly Circus
Hours: M-Sa 10:00-18:30, Su 10:30-16:30
Tel: 020 7839 4839
New books only. Very handy ordering service available for nearly any book, magazine subscriptions also available. 10% off all paperbacks on Mondays, 10% off all manga on Tuesdays. 10% discount available on all educational materials for teachers or students upon showing proof (student ID, etc). Some Japanese knick-knacks (maneki neko, hanafuda cards). Staff are friendly, patient, and deal with non-native speakers very professionally.

Japan Centre Bookshop – within Japan Centre, 14-16 Regent St
Tube: Piccadilly Circus
Hours: M-Sa 10:00-19:00
Tel: 020 3405 1150
Mainly (expensive) magazines, English-language cookbooks, manga artbooks, and textbooks. A mere shadow of its former self. Older magazines are sold discounted in bundles of two or three.

Other:

Rice Wine Shop – 82 Brewer Street, Soho
Tube: Piccadilly Circus
Hours: M-Sa 10:00-22:00, Su 12:00-21:00
Tel: 020 7439 3705
Why do I like Rice Wine Shop? Well, it’s in Soho, it’s open late, and it usually has lots of flavors of chuhai in the cooler by the door. It’s tiny, it’s crowded, it has a lot of rice wine. Snacks are cheap. What more do you want?

Asakusa – 265 Eversholt Street, NW1 1BA
Tube: Mornington Crescent
Hours: M-F 18:00-23:30, Sa 18:00-23:00
Tel: 020 7388 8533
Food’s brilliant and brilliantly priced at this slightly ramshackle izakaya. Make a reservation or be disappointed. It’s not the prettiest, but are you paying for slick design or for food?

Koya – 49 Frith Street, W1D 4SG
Tube: Tottenham Court Road
Hours: 12:00-15:00 (lunch daily), M-Sa 17:30-22:30, Su 17:30-22:00
Tel: 020 7434 4463
Apparently the best bowl of noodles you can get in London. They’re kneaded by foot by the staff or something. I can’t say for myself because I hesitate to spend nearly £10 on a bowl of ramen, but if you’re into that kind of thing…

Ramen Ryo – 84 Brewer Street, Soho
Tube: Piccadilly Circus
Tel: 020 7287 1318
Cheap and cheerful, as British people like to say. Decent and cheap ramen, curries, set meals, etc. Used to have a manga magazine and newspaper collection as well as a blaring TV to make you feel right at home, but the new management seem to be aiming for a more sophisticated feel, which is a shame.
UPDATE (March 11, 2012): Is no longer cheap and cheerful. Now called Ittenbari. Queues out the door and rather pricy. Sigh. http://www.ittenbari.co.uk/

Mixbwww.mixb.jp
Website specializing in classified ads for the Japanese community in London. Furniture, flats, jobs, clothes, books, even people desperately trying to sell packets of tissues ‘made in Japan’… if you’re tired of Mixb, then you’re tired of life.

Centre Peoplewww.centrepeople.com
Job advertising service run by Japan Centre. Are you a logistics expert who is happy to commute to Slough? They may have a job for you. Are you anyone else? They probably won’t have a job for you.

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