Want to experience Japan but don't have the budget?
Experience Japan in Adelaide
Although Australia is far away from everywhere, you can actually experience an array of different cultures without leaving the country. I'm going to show you how you can spend a day in the city in the Japanese way. It is one of my favourite school holiday activities for children. It can also be a perfect date to see whether your partner is compatible with you to go to an exotic location to experience a new culture.
You can pick and choose any element in my itinerary to suit your tastes. I like to start my trip from a stroll in the very green & lush Himeji Garden on the South Terrace. It was built in 1982 to celebrate the friendship between Adelaide & our sister city Himeji. Japanese garden is world famous in their design. There is something different in every corner. Children can explore stepping stones and the water features. Adults can admire the bonsai and even meditate while looking at the dry garden where sand and rock are the key elements. You won't find this in an English garden, right? Teens can take their best shots for Instagram and upload stories like a tourist. Your friends may think you've gone to Japan for a holiday if you are careful enough to choose the right angle. Don't forget to listen to the water that has calming & relaxing effects. Sound is an important feature of Japanese gardens too.
A section dedicated to chopsticks. Have you seen that many different chopsticks in your life?
Next, I'd take the free tram to the very centre of Adelaide. Get off at Victoria Square for a bit of Japanese shopping. First stop is the Little Tokyo next to the Hilton Hotel. This shop is my ultimate fix for all things Japanese from snack to cookware, homeware to quirky accessories. This is a perfect stop to practise a few Japanese phrases like konnichiwa (hello), arigato (thank you) and even sayonara (goodbye) with their Japanese staff. You will notice they do bow a lot just like what you will experience in Japan. Kawaii on Gouger Street stems from the idea of 100 yen shop in Japan. All items are fixed price, only AUD $2.80, unless marked. You will be surprised that quite a few items are made in Japan despite the low prices. Go find Ramune in the shop. What is it? It is probably the most famous Japanese soft drink. What's so special about it? Buy one and try it. A lot of people keep the bottle as a souvenir.
Time to use Google Translate for these beauty products (I think they are)
Sharing the same entrance is Kawaii Fashion which is a heaven for those who want to try new beauty products from Japan. From shampoo to lotion, you will be spoilt with choices. The only issue is that they are all packaged in Japanese. There are a few signs here and there for some products. If there is any doubt, you can always ask the friendly staff. Another perfect opportunity to practise getting used to the Japanese language. Why not get yourself familiar with Google Translate?
Hungry by now? Ryo's noodles will teleport you to Tokyo. Their ramen is house-made. A trip to Japan will not be complete without picking the sushi off the conveyor belts from the Sushi Train. Both restaurants are on Gouger Street. Have you tried some of these unique Japanese ice-cream flavours Green Tea & Black Sesame? They are extremely addictive! I will leave it to you to find out where to buy them. I'm guessing you probably want to try that mochi, a dessert made with glutinous rice, sitting below the Green Tea ice-cream in the freezer.
In the northern part of the city, you can find Japanese arts from the Art Gallery of South Australia. Have you seen a painting from one of the most famous modern Japanese artists Yayoi Kusama? We have one in our art gallery. You don't need to fly to Tokyo to see it. My tip to find her artwork is to look for lots of circles on a canvas. For shopping, you can visit Daiso Japan for 100yen style shopping, Shin Tokyo for all your Japanese cultural fix including manga (comic books), collectables & video games and The Tangerine Fox for their Japanese ceramics.
Tatami sitting in Ginza Miyako. You won't find the same setting in Japan as you kneel on the mat there.
Food wise, you are also spoilt with choices from the many Japanese food stalls in various food courts to the upmarket Japanese restaurants like Ginza Miyako Japanese restaurant at the Stamford Adelaide Hotel. I would definitely recommend a sitting at the Tatami mats in the Ginza Miyako served by the kimono wearing waitresses. Kneeling on Tatami mats to eat is a real deal in Japan. A taste of what it is like is definitely cultural immersion. Shiki in the Hilton Hotel will fire a spectacular Teppanyaki but the price is on the high side. It's certainly worth saving money for a special occasion.
$10 Japanese Karaage Chicken special lunch deal at Ginza Miyako
Thank you so much for this article!
I had no idea we had a Japanese garden in Adelaide! We are about to host a Japanese exchange student so we are trying to immerse ourselves in all things Japanese before she arrives.