Like many other Singaporeans who miss traveling abroad, I miss traveling to Japan the most.
It’s been three years since my last vacation abroad, and six years since my last trip to Japan (Kyoto and Osaka).
Suffice it to say, the land of sakura, sushi, sumo and snow misses the Japan-o-phile in me more than I can describe.
But since travel from Singapore to Japan is still limited, I decided to take matters into my own hands.
I cooked up my own Japan-themed day in Singapore, filled with gourmet coffee, onsen spas, Japanese-inspired milk ice cream and more.
If you’re looking to experience the goodness of Japan without flying, here are five recommendations to consider.
1) Have a drink at Suzuki Gourmet Coffee
There are several Japanese-themed cafes in Singapore, but none quite like Suzuki Gourmet Coffee.
Tucked away in a rather obscure part of Boon Lay, Suzuki Gourmet Coffee is one of Singapore’s oldest coffee roasters and has been around since 1979.
This Kyoto-inspired Japanese teahouse sports wooden furniture and bamboo elements throughout, aiming to replicate a calm and peaceful atmosphere not easily found in Singapore.
On top of that, all of their drinks are also made with high-quality Hokkaido milk and freshly roasted coffee beans from the Suzuki Roasting Factory, located right next to the cafe.
You can check out their drink menu here.
Address: Suzuki Gourmet Coffee, 8 Chin Bee Avenue Singapore 619934
- Tuesday to Friday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (last order for dinner: 4:30 p.m.)
- Saturday and Sunday: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Last order on site: 3 p.m.)
- Monday/PH: Closed
2) Lunch at Keyaki
Next up is Keyaki, a Japanese restaurant in the Pan Pacific hotel that offers a slice of Kyoto to its diners.
Surrounded by a beautiful Japanese garden and a koi pond, you can choose to have a meal either in a Tatami- or private western-style dining room.
If you are looking for a more private setting with an elevated ambience, the Garden Pavilion has a seating capacity of 40 for any dining occasion.
Shoji– inspired screens and a moon gate open onto lush greenery and a koi pond, creating an illusion of being out of Singapore without actually crossing borders.
According to a hotel spokesperson, the garden is open to hotel guests and restaurant diners, meaning you’ll likely have to dine in if you want to post the location on your Instagram feed.
Exclusive to the lunch menu, the Keyaki Bento (S$70) includes an appetizer, grilled dish, stew, fried dish, sashimi, chawanmushi, rice, miso soup, pickles and dessert.
Available on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., kaiseki-style Okonomi weekend brunches start at S$75 for a seven-course meal.
Address: Level 4, 7 Raffles Boulevard, Marina Square Singapore 039595
- Lunch: 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. (last order at 2 p.m.)
- Dinner: 6 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. (last order at 10 p.m.)
3) Visit Japanese Cemetery Park to learn more about Japanese history in Singapore
Those who miss Japan’s famous cherry blossoms may consider visiting an alternative much closer to home.
Located in the middle of Hougang is the Japanese Cemetery Park.
According to VisitSingapore, the Japanese Cemetery Park is the largest in Southeast Asia, with nearly 1,000 graves of Japanese civilians and soldiers, most dating from the early 20th century.
First built in 1891 by three Japanese brothel owners, it originally served as a cemetery for “karayuki-san– Japanese women brought to Singapore for prostitution.
Subsequently, it was used to hold the ashes of Japanese soldiers killed in World War II, as well as the remains of Japanese war criminals executed at Changi Prison.
Because the government banned further burials in 42 cemeteries, including the Japanese Cemetery in 1973, the scenic cemetery now serves as a memorial park.
The park is best known for its lush vegetation and Japanese-inspired architecture, as well as a long row of arches decorated with a native plant species, bougainvillea.
When the flowers are in bloom, the arches make for a picturesque picture reminiscent of spring in Japan.
Take as many pictures as you want while you’re here, but make sure you don’t forget the importance of the place.
Address: 22 Chuan Hoe Avenue, Singapore 549854
Opening hours: 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. daily
4) Relax, Rejuvenate and Rejuvenate at Yunomori Onsen & Spa
The hustle and bustle of city life in Singapore can weigh on the mind, body, and spirit.
City dwellers may therefore need a place to get away to where they can relax, recharge and rejuvenate.
Located in the Kallang Wave Mall, Yunomori Onsen & Spa combines traditional Japanese Onsen therapies and Thai spa treatments.
The Japanese-style spa is equipped with Onsen baths that provide a relaxing and therapeutic experience.
For example, the warm, mineral-rich waters of Yunomori’s baths detoxify and relax the body, preparing it for the healing effects of expert Thai massage.
Along with onsen, massage, and spa facilities, there is also Yunomori Cafe, which offers homemade Japanese-style dishes and snacks for guests to enjoy during their retreat.
You can check the services and prices of Yunomori Onsen & Spa here.
Address: 1 Stadium Place, #02-17/18, Kallang Wave Mall, Singapore 397628
Opening hours: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily
5) Savor Wall Viennetta Classic Vanilla and White Peach Sticks
For lovers of sweet desserts, Wall’s recently launched its brand new Viennetta sticks for those looking to experience the wonders of a Japanese winter in Singapore.
Inspired by the flavors, sights and sights of Japan, these Viennetta sticks bring endless waves of soft serve ice cream, expertly layered with exquisite Japanese craftsmanship.
Made from 100% Japanese milk, each Viennetta stick will make your mouth water with the unmistakable crunch of its crispy chocolate shell and classic Viennetta swirls.
Currently, the Viennetta Sticks by Wall are available in two flavors:
- classic vanilla
- White peach
We tried the Classic Vanilla stick and found it to have a full-bodied milky taste and a smooth, creamy texture, leaving an irresistible aftertaste of pleasure and indulgence.
On the other hand, the white peach stick was refreshing and fruity for the palette, with a delicious burst of juiciness and sweetness in every bite.
Impulse sticks are now sold exclusively at all 7-Eleven outlets on the island, and multi-packs of six will be available at all major super/hypermarkets, as well as e-commerce platforms from May 2022.
Viennetta Sticks are available for an MSRP* of S$16.90 for a six-pack and S$3 for an Impulse stick.
* Final retail price is at the sole discretion of the respective retailers.
This article sponsored by Wall’s Viennetta got this writer excited to experience a Japan-themed day in Singapore.
Best Pictures via Wall’s Viennetta, @suzukicoffee and @panpacificsingapore on Instagram, Yunomori Onsen & Spa