Japanese culture in Barcelona is multifaceted and fascinating.
It is steeped in the deepest traditions but constantly interacting with the new technologies the country creates and pushes boundaries with everyday.
Japan has brought many amazing things to global culture like sushi, Hello Kitty, Pokemon, Karate and more. But the idea of the Samurai spirit and fascinating traditions have captured the imagination of people across the world when it comes to Japan.
So, we want to introduce you to the best of Japanese culture in Barcelona: Manga Fair, Matcha, and Japanese style shops.
In late October/early November each year, Japanese comic fans from all over the world gather together in one of the most exciting Manga fairs in Europe: Manga Fair Barcelona, or Salón del Manga de Barcelona in Spanish.
This fair is held at the Fira de Barcelona at Montjuic near Plaza Espanya and attracts around 100,000 participants, all in love with Japanese culture , comics and cartoons.
The fair offers various activities from cosplay contests, karaoke, musical concerts and manga workshops to Japanese cuisine and other activities about Japanese culture. Manga Fair Barcelona is also often visited by notable guests from the Manga world.
This year it will be from 12th-15th April 2018.
When it comes to Japanese food, Sushi is probably the most famous. However, in recent years, Matcha (Japanese green tea powder) has become a new star. Matcha is premium bright green tea powder from Japan used for drinking as tea or as ingredients in recipes. Complex, addicting, pleasantly bitter and sweet are the words used to describe Matcha. There are more and more people becoming Matcha enthusiasts. You can easily notice Matcha coffee, ice creams, tiramisu, macarons, cookies and more in menus at many coffee or gelato shops around Barcelona. The big name Starbucks has already updated the trend and added Matcha in their Frappuccino, Latte, Smoothies and Tea products.
There are so many choices on where to drink and relax in Barcelona. But if you want to find a place to chill after strolling around and feel the unique Japanese atmosphere as well as try the “real” matcha taste you should try these amazing two: Caj Chai tea room and Takashi Ochiai bakery shop.
Listed as one of the best tea rooms in town, Caj Chai offers extensive high quality tea menus which will surprise any tea lover. This tea shop serves tea imported from Asian countries such as Japan, China, Vietnam and more. Seeing Asian tea pots and bamboo chairs in this tea room, you’ll feel as though you’ve ended up in a tiny Japanese town.
With its cozy atmosphere, Caj Chai is a relaxing oasis of peace in the middle of Barcelona’s Gothic area as well as an ideal place to take the first date. If you want to know which kind of tea they offer, you can check Caj Chai’s menu here.
Address: Carrer de Sant Domènec del Call, 12
Opening hours: Monday: 15:00 – 22:00; Tuesday – Sunday: 10:30 – 22:00
Takashi Ochiai is another perfect option for dessert lovers. In this bakery shop, you can find exclusive Japanese desserts which have become very popular amongst the locals. Takashi Ochiai also provides dessert menus in most of the best Japanese restaurants in Barcelona. Although Takashi Ochiai has a big selection of Japanese desserts, I suggest you try Daifuku (rice cake with sweet filling) and Dorayaki (red bean pancake). Daifuku is a very popular dessert in Japan. Dorayaki is very famous among manga readers because they are also called “Doraemon cakes”. Doraemon is the name of a best-selling manga which was a big part of many Asian people’s childhood. And finally, Matcha Kastera (or Castella) absolutely should not be forgotten. Kastera sponge cake is originally from Castilla, Spain. But the Portuguese merchants brought it to Japan and now Kastera is well-known as one of the Japanese specialties. Address: Carrer del Comte d’Urgell, 110.
Opening hours: From Tuesday to Friday: 8:00 – 14:00 and 17:00 – 21:00, Saturday: 8:00 – 15:00 and 17:00 – 21:00; Sunday: closed
While Japonisme is a more famous typical Japanese store in Gracia area, in the heart of the old Jewish quarter of Gothic Quarter, there is a small independent shop called “Momo” (meaning “Peach”) which is a little Japanese house full of traditional Japanese ceramics, chopsticks and silk lanterns. Peaceful and quiet, Momo shop is a place for little escape from crowded tourist attractions, a place to find comfort and admire the subtle Japanese design. Many of the lovely ceramics here are hand made by the Japanese community in Barcelona. It is the perfect to pick up gifts for your friends as the shop features origami cranes, eyeless “Daruma” figures, silk kimonos, lanterns and to waving cats Maneki-neko which bring luck and encourage optimism for the future.
Address: Carrer Arc de St.Ramon del Call, 6
Opening hours: Monday 16:30 pm-20:00pm, on Tuesday-Sunday 11:00am-14:00pm, 16:30pm-20:00pm.
So, if you have not had a chance to visit Japan, you still have the chance to experience the Japanese atmosphere in Barcelona! Have any other great suggestions we haven’t mentioned? Let us know in the comments!