Top spots for Japanese culture in Amsterdam
From slurp-worthy ramen to hand-crafted washi, Japanese culture is blossoming Amsterdam. Find out where to go for the best Japanese film festivals, shops, restaurants and events!
You don’t need to hop on a plane for amazing okonomiyaki (traditional Japanese pancakes); you can cycle over to Japanese Pancake World in the heart of the Jordaan area. Here you can fill your belly with savoury pancakes that contain several layers and are prepared on an iron plate (teppan).
Amsterdammers have been crazy about ramen for a while, so it is no surprise that these Japanese noodle-soup restaurants are springing up like mushrooms (shiitake ones, actually). Close to the 9 Streets you will find a hidden gem: Men Impossible. In this cosy lounge restaurant, owner and chef Atsushi Ishida serves up heavenly ramen. Everything on the menu is vegan, organic and zero waste. Vegans and carnivores alike can also find a bowl of authentic soup at Ramen-Ya, Fou Fow Ramen, Sapporo Ramen Sora or Hakata Senpachi.
Men Impossible | Hazenstraat 19H, Centrum (don't forget to book!)
Ramen-Ya | Oudezijds Voorburgwal 236, Centrum
Fou Fow Ramen, Elandsgracht 2A, Centrum & Van Woustraat 3, De Pijp
Sapporo Ramen Sora | Ceintuurbaan 49H, De Pijp
Hakata Senpachi | Wielingenstraat 16, Zuid
Lovers of Japanese design can indulge their passion in February at Mono Japan. This artistic and cultural exhibition takes place at the Lloyd Hotel & Cultural Embassy and is a tribute to craftsmanship, design and food culture from Japan. Meet Japanese artisans and check out their handmade products, including pottery, washi (paper), textiles, clothing, furniture, tea and sake, or attend one of the art workshops or lectures to sharpen your own Japanese design skills.
Hop on your bike and head to the Amsterdamse Bos to celebrate spring the Japanese way: with a picnic under no less than 400 flowering cherry trees. If that does not give you the perfect Instagram picture, we don't know what will.
Are you a fan of Japanese cinema? Then grab a red pen and put the CinemAsia Film Festival (March) and Camera Japan Festival (September) on your agenda immediately. At these annual film festivals in Amsterdam you can watch some impressive movies straight from Japan, from new feature films and anime to revered classics. Don't forget your popcorn (or dried seaweed)!
CinemAsia Film Festival | various locations
Camera Japan Festival | Kriterion, Roetersstraat 170, De Plantage
Antique Japanese furniture, kimonos, lacquered trays, folding screens and bento boxes: they sell it all at Van hier tot Tokio, a spacious shop on the edge of the Jordaan. You will also find a range of exclusive and handmade products crafted by young Japanese artists, including ceramics, calligraphy, kimonos, books and folding paper, at ‘t Japanse Winkeltje. To really deep-dive into the culture, follow their workshops; they have a Japanese-language course, an origami workshop and a tea tasting. Looking for every-day Japanese style? The Uniqlo on Kalverstraat has you covered. This Japanese retailer specialising in casual clothing and winter basics, is rapidly expanding around the world, and the Amsterdam shop just opened in September to the delight of design-savvy bargain-hunters.
Van hier tot Tokio | Prinsengracht 262, Centrum
‘t Japanse Winkeltje | Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 177, Centrum
Uniqlo | Kalverstraat 11 / Rokin 12 Centrum
Sushi, teppanyaki and finger food
When it comes to Japanese haute cuisine, they certainly know their stuff at the Hotel Okura Amsterdam. In this international five-star hotel you’ll find two Japanese restaurants that have earned Michelin stars: Teppanyaki Restaurant Sazanka and Yamazato Restaurant. At Sazanka, chefs prepare fish, meat and vegetarian dishes on a hotplate at your table. For authentic kaiseki dishes and other traditional Japanese dishes, Yamazato is top-notch. Fancy a more laid-back atmosphere? Then pop into De Japanner in De Pijp, where Japanese food, beer, sake and cocktails are served in a casual setting.
Yamazato and Sazanka, Hotel Okura Amsterdam | Ferdinand Bolstraat 333, De Pijp
De Japanner | Albert Cuypstraat 228, De Pijp
If you want to stock up on Japanese snacks, take the tram to Buitenveldert where you will find two tokos, just a stone's throw from each other. Japanse Delicatessen Atariya and Shilla are loaded with a wide variety of Japanese sweets that are hard to find outside of Japan. In addition to their assortment of unusual snacks, such as strawberry Kit Kat, you can also pick up fresh sushi, frozen sweets and Japanese household items.
Japanese-Korean Delicatessen Shilla | Gelderlandplein shopping centre, Van Leijenberghlaan 43, Zuid
Japanse Delicatessen Atariya | Kastelenstraat 262-264, Zuid
The Japanese Garden in Amstel Park is a wonderful little Japanese oasis. The garden overlooks the Grote Vijver and is a feast of colour for the eyes especially during spring (hello periwinkle flowers!) and autumn. Of course, the essential bonsai trees and bamboo are not to be missed.
Immerse yourself in all things Japanese during the annual Japan Festival in October. On the menu are performances, cosplay fashion shows, and workshops where you can learn calligraphy, sushi preparation and origami. You can also browse the many stands and shops, and when your stomach starts to rumble, there are food trucks with Japanese street food within easy reach.