Japanese culture in Barcelona is multifaceted, but fascinating. It may be steeped in the deepest traditions, but on the other hand, the country everyday develops new technologies rapidly that pushes back the boundaries of the possible. Japan has brought many amazing things like sushi, Hello Kitty, Pokemon, Karate and so on. Samurai spirit and fascinating traditions have spread a beautiful image of Japan in people’s mind. Therefore, we want to introduce the best of Japanese culture in Barcelona: Manga Fair, Matcha, and Japanese style shops.
MANGA FAIR BARCELONA
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 being in love with Japanese culture , comics, cartoons, etc. The fair offers various activities from contests of cosplay, karaoke, musical concerts, manga workshops to Japanese cuisine and other activities about Japanese culture. Manga Fair Barcelona is proud to be visited by numerous notable guests in manga world.
This year, the Manga Fair Barcelona will take place from October 30th to November 2nd. Kengo Hanazam, author of the world wide success manga “I am a hero”(already published in Spain) will visit the fair. Takeshi Obata, the author of “All You Need Is Kill” as well as the artist of the famous Death Note will come as well. For foodies, they definitely should not miss out on tasting the best Japanese cuisine from Michelin-star chefs who are working in the best sushi restaurants in Barcelona including Tamae Imachi, the sommelier at Dos Palillos and Hideki Matsuhisa, the chef at Koy Shunka restaurant. The admissions fee is 7 EUR. Here are some popular and useful vocabularies that you should know as you will hear them a lot during the fair
Manga: Japanese comic books and graphic novels
Anime: Japanese film and television animation
Cosplay: costumer play
Otaku: anime and manga fandom
Origami: paper folding Kawaii: cute, lovely
MATCHA, JAPANESE TEA AND DESSERTS
When it comes to Japanese food, Sushi is often mentioned most. 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, Pleasant 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,…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. Being listed as one of the best tea rooms in town, Caj Chai offers extensive high quality tea menus which can surprise any tea lovers. This tea shop serves tea imported from Asian countries such as Japan, China, Vietnam and more. Seeing Asian tea pots, bamboo chairs, etc in this tea room, I feel like I enter a little 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 at here.
Address: Carrer de Sant Domènec del Call, 12 Opening hours: Monday: 15 – 22; Tuesday – Sunday: 10:30 – 22
Takashi Ochiai is another perfect option for dessert lovers. In this bakery shop, you can find exclusive Japanese desserts which spread the popularity of this brand. Takashi Ochiai is also a provider for dessert menus in most of the best Japanese restaurants in Barcelona. Although Takashi Ochiai has a big selection of Japanese desserts, I suggest to try Daifuku (glutinous rice cake with sweet filling) and Dorayaki (red bean pancake). Daifuku is a very popular dessert in Japan. About Dorayaki, it is very famous among manga readers because this is also called as “the Doraemon cakes”. Doraemon is a best-selling manga being a part in many Asian people’ 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 Japanese specialties. Address: Carrer del Comte d’Urgell, 110.
- From Tuesday to Friday: 8 – 14 and 17 – 21
- Saturday: 8 – 15 and 17 – 21; Sunday: closed
While Japonisme is a 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” (means Peach) which is a little Japanese house of traditional Japanese ceramics, chopsticks and silk lanterns. Peaceful and quiet, Momo shop is a place for little escape from crowded tourist attractions, find comfort and admire the subtle Japanese design. Many lovely ceramics here are hand made by the Japanese community in Barcelona. Perfect to pick up a gift for your friend, the shop features from origami cranes, eyeless “Daruma” figures, silk kimonos, lanterns and to the beckoning cats Maneki-neko which bring luck and encourage optimism for the future. Located on Carrer Arc de St.Ramon del Call No6, the shop is opened on Monday 4:30 pm-8pm, on Tuesday-Sunday 11am-2pm, 4:30pm-8pm.
So, if you have not had a chance to visit Japan, you still can feel amazing and fresh Japanese atmosphere inside Barcelona ! Have any other great suggestions we haven’t mentioned? Let us know in the comments!