It is now easier for Malaysians to visit Japan without having to apply for a visa beforehand. However, the Covid-19 pandemic has prevented us from travelling anywhere overseas. So, here are 11 places in Malaysia that look like Japan to comfort your longing for Japan!
Don Don Don..Do-onki~ oops sorry, just got carried away🤭. I mean who visits Japan without visiting Don Quijote (Donki)?🤷♀️. The one we have in Lot 10, Bukit Bintang, is exactly the same as those in Japan! Okay, for those who are clueless, Don Quijote (Donki) is a famous discount store chain in Japan, known for its loud marketing and variety of goods. On 19 March 2021, it was marketed in Malaysia as JONETZ by DON DON DONKI. The “JONETZ” in the name comes from Jonetsu Kakaku, which means “passionate price” referring to the affordability of the price in the store.
Upon entering the three-story store, you will be greeted by the Donki theme song in both English and Bahasa Malaysia versions. The tune is catchy and known to stick in people's minds, playing on an infinity loop. The interior is basically IKEA no.2 but fancier with a maze of Japanese household products and food. You will see price labels which basically scream “DISCOUNT❗❓” (even though there is no discount because they are..big) throughout the store. Even though the prices of the products are slightly higher than in Japan. In a surprising turn, some items are cheaper than those at DAISO.
Other than groceries and all the other supermarket goods, Donki also has ready-made food like sushi, bento, Japanese desserts and many more. They also brought their famous steamed sweet potatoes here all the way from Japan! (But of course, they steam them here-lah) This is one of the most authentic Japanese experiences that you can experience in Malaysia!
Address: Ground Floor, Lot 10, Shopping Centre, G8-G11, 50, Jln Sultan Ismail, Bukit Bintang, 50250 Kuala Lumpur.
This restaurant is designed to look like a traditional Japanese tea house, from its roof to its lanterns, to its tatami room. You'll feel like you're in the ancient capital of Japan, Kyoto! They don't serve pork and many Muslims have eaten here. They also have a selection of Japanese liquors, which are served separately. After your meal, you can walk around the Saujana Hotel vicinity and enjoy the surrounding view.
Address: Persiaran Golf, Saujana, 40150 Shah Alam, Selangor
The entrance is currently free and there's a Japanese traditional clothing rental shop inside (for those who want to feel like they are really in Japan). Once you stepped into the garden, you will be showered with luxuriant greenery combined with natural elements, like the Zen Space, Maze Pond, Torii Gate, Reflexology Space, Stone Basin, and Terrace Space. There is also a part of the garden that is made to look like the famous 🎍bamboo forest in Arashiyama (Kyoto vibe anyone?).
The park is open every day from 10am to 7pm and is a great choice of picnic spot for people planning to relax and spend time with their family and friends while being out in nature.
P.S: This garden is located next to the Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Mosque.
Address: Persiaran Bandar Raya, Seksyen 14, 40000 Shah Alam, Selangor
If you have been to Japan, you have probably heard of Book-Off. For those who have not, it is Japan's largest thrift store chain and they have now opened many branches in Malaysia! Here, they are branded as Jalan Jalan Japan (JJJ) and carry pre-loved and second-hand goods from Japan. Don't look down on these pre-loved goods, as they are all in good condition. And, if you're lucky, you might find some hidden gems like some vintage collections or limited-edition sneakers, who knows 🤷♀️.
Prices start at just RM1! The store stocks items that have been sold as second-hand by Japanese people to Book-Off (in Japan of course), including 🧸soft toys, 👶baby items, 🏌️♀️sports equipment, cutlery, figurines, and even items not commonly available in Malaysia, such as 🏄♂️surfboards, 👘kimonos, and kotos (a traditional Japanese stringed musical instrument). Oftentimes, you may find items that are brand new and still in their original packaging.
If you want to experience shopping in Japan, this is the place for you! Plus, you can fill your wardrobe with Japanese fashion outfits without breaking the bank. Men can bring their wives here without maxing out their 💳credit cards.
There are various capsule hotels available in Malaysia, meaning you don't have to fly all the way to Japan to experience one.
If you want to experience something futuristic and Star Trek-ish, IO hotel is it.
Here is another special one at Capsule Transit Airport Hotel @ KLIA. If you want to experience how it feels like sleeping in a mini container, then this is for you.
The library itself is cosy and has several reading corners where you can sit comfortably and read. Japanese parents are often seen bringing their children for a visit during weekends. The books available here include children’s storybooks, travel books, Japanese language textbooks, novels and many more. There is also a tatami mat corner with pillows where you can sit and enjoy your manga (alert for otaku!).
Address: 18th Floor, Block B, Northpoint, No. 1, Medan Syed Putra Selatan, 59200 Kuala Lumpur. (Adjacent to Mid Valley Megamall)
Located on the 6th floor of the Pavilion Mall, this area houses several restaurants that serve authentic Japanese cuisine and shops that sell imported Japanese goods. As you take the escalator up to the 6th floor, you'll be hit with a pang of nostalgia upon seeing the large red lantern (Asakusa Shrine lantern anyone?). You'll then be greeted by traditional Japanese shop fronts that mimic shopping streets in Japan.
Some of the shops here offer unique Japanese items like Marimo moss balls, products from Yamanashi, Hokkaido Ramen, and more. This indoor shopping space is highly recommended if you want to try some delicious 🍜ramen and sip a cup of fragrant 🍵matcha while shopping for the latest Japanese fashion. Even if you have nothing to purchase, this is still a nice place to stroll and discover imported goods from Japan.
Address: 6th Floor, Bukit Bintang St, Bukit Bintang, 55100 Kuala Lumpur, Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur.
On the top floor of Lot 10 Shopping Centre is the J's Gate Dining. This is where where you can find some of Japan's finest specialty restaurants. In addition, there is a collection of premium Japanese dining experiences offered at 4F The Table. (4F NOT F4👨🎤👨🎤👨🎤👨🎤 OK!!).
📍Address: Lot 10 Shopping Center, 50, Jln Sultan Ismail, Bukit Bintang, 50250 Kuala Lumpur.
Not even kidding, this is the actual name of the shop😲. If you were hoping to see a Toyota AE86, then yes, you can! (Unfortunately, Jay Chou won't be there though.) If you are thinking of test driving it, then we are sorry to disappoint you (again) because the car is heavily guarded by stanchion posts. But you can take photos with it along with other race cars parked near the shop.
This café serves tau foo far and soy milk (we're not sure if they're fetched by a Toyota AE86) and patrons can dine while admiring the toy car collections on display. In addition to soy-based food and drinks, they also offer local favorites such as chicken rice, laksa, nyonya kuih, and more. Please note, this café does not serve pork, lard, or alcohol.
Address: Palo 101 Lot 189-E, Jalan Sultan Iskandar, 30000 Ipoh, Perak
Looking for a unique ramen experience with a Japanese alleyway setting? Look no further, as this restaurant is the place to be. It's so popular that it's always crowded, and you'll often see lines forming. The inside of the restaurant is designed to look like you're dining outside (confusing yet?), which adds to its quirky charm.
You can choose the bar table for an authentic ramen shop experience, where you can observe the chefs preparing your bowl of ramen. However, if you're shy, you can opt for tables in the middle or near the wall.
Besides ramen, they also offer tsukemen, rice bowls, hot pots, yakitori, and even ramen burgers! (Really curious about this). So if your girlfriend has trouble deciding what to eat, bring her here because they have a comprehensive menu that covers all types of Japanese cuisine. Keep in mind that this restaurant is not halal, so do not accidentally bring a Muslim friend here!
Address: The Gasket Alley, 15-5 @, Jalan 13/6, Seksyen 13, 46200 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Combining authentic traditional Japanese onsen culture with traditional body therapies, Urban Retreat Spa presents a new spa concept. Here, you get to immerse in Japanese imported Onsen Spa Tub, offering the same experience as soaking in an authentic onsen in Japan. How cool is that!
This indoor facility offers soaking in a wooden onsen tub with a choice of special salts and different water temperatures that you can choose from. They even have up to 7 types of body scrubs for you to pick. If you are shy about exposing your birthday suit in front of many people, don't worry as the spa also provides private rooms with single-person tubs. The round tubs are designated for women and the rectangular ones for men.
After soaking, you can have a massage session, where you can choose the package you want. To end the relaxing day, you'll be treated to a cup of refreshing tea and a slice of delicious Swiss roll! What a wonderful way to end a rejuvenating experience.
Address: Lot 2F, 163 Retail Park, 07, 8, Jalan Kiara, Mont Kiara, 50480 Kuala Lumpur, Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur.