Japanese activities and events in KL

Where to go and what to do for the Japan experience without leaving KL
By Time Out KL editors |

Once you’re done experiencing Japan through food, take the next step and partake in these activities to up your culture vulture points including ikebana, purikura and gashapon (yes, look up those words now).

RECOMMENDED: The best of Japan in KL

Hibana Lab
Photo: Daniel Chan
Things to do, Classes and workshops

Take up ikebana

icon-location-pin Bangsar

Learn the Japanese art of flower arranging at floral studio Hibana Lab in Bangsar. Resident flower designer Yoshi-san is a trained teacher from Ikenobo (one of the oldest ikebana schools in Kyoto), but having practised in London, Germany and Shanghai, his approach to arranging flowers is a blend of Japanese and European styles. The classes are priced at RM200 per person, and the fee includes flowers, a basket, as well as flower care tips and cutting techniques. Note: Classes are conducted in Japanese but translations will be provided.

Iloha Culture Centre also offers ikebana classes. For RM360, join a three-day ikebana intensive course over the weekend at Iloha, or attend weekly classes on Fridays or Sundays for three weeks. Classes will be conducted by qualified Ikenobo instructor Ms Joo Hong Teh.


Animes for the otaku

icon-location-pin Mid Valley City

The library strips away the seemingly frivolous (no kawaii café attached), celebrating books as passionately as the way the Japanese embrace their Zen lifestyle. And Zen is what you get here – a hushed tatami area that exhibits the casualness of a living room, comfy couches and reading spaces decked out in earthy tones. Fuel your interest in the Japanese culture with fiction, literature and magazines, or through their enviable selection of manga. The JFKL also hosts cultural activities every month so keep an eye out.

RM10 membership fee.

Shopping, Shopping centres

Exchange cultural tips with a Japanese native

icon-location-pin KL Sentral

If the Japanese language classes you’re attending only revolve around written exercises and grammatical concepts, learn faster with a native speaker at this language exchange. Beginners can practise their conversational skills with Japanese expats in this monthly get-together, which features a different topic each time, like festivals, customs, street fashion and animation (don’t worry, these are just conversation starters). The exchange usually attracts between 20 and 30 participants; register early for a spot.

Every second Saturday of the month, 5pm-7pm. Check www.facebook.com/KLJapaneseLanguageExchange for more details.

Photo: Ng Su Ann
Shopping, Specialist food and drink

Go for tea tasting classes

icon-location-pin Mid Valley City

Japanese boutique tea shop HOJO Tea at The Gardens Mall stocks a wide range of teas (from Japan, China, India and Taiwan) and various tea-related paraphernalia – all of them imported. Make an appointment with the staff who will give you better insights into the art of tea brewing and tasting; beginners are welcome too. Depending on the price of tea leaves, the tasting sessions may cost up to RM20 per person.

Photo: Joyce Koh
Shopping, Toys and games

Spin a gashapon

icon-location-pin Bukit Bintang

Get a Bandai toy or two at the Japanese capsule toy vending machines. They may be slightly more expensive than tikam-tikam at the local kedai runcit, but toys from the gashapon machines are definitely of better quality and superior variety. We found Gundam figures, Anicolla’s cats in waffles and pugs in burgers, Detective Conan key chains, Sanrio merchandise, inflatable Ultraman boppers and more.

RM5 per token.

Things to do, Cultural centres

Catch your favourite Japanese heroes on the big screen

icon-location-pin KL Sentral

Japanese films didn’t begin or end with Akira Kurosawa. Apart from Japan’s most famous cinematic export, there are also other indie films worth seeking out, most notably award-winning ‘A Story of Yonosuke’, arthouse ‘About the Pink Sky’ and all-time crowd-pleaser ‘Akko-chan: The Movie’. All these and a lot more under-the-radar works have been featured at The Weekend Japanese Film Show. Classics are well celebrated here too – you won’t want to miss ‘Rashômon’ on the big screen.

First Saturday of the month; no registration required, walk-ins are welcome. Check www.jfkl.org.my for more info.

Restaurants, Japanese

Soak up saké knowledge

icon-location-pin Petaling Jaya

Educate yourself on the Japanese rice wine at Kampachi’s saké workshop at its Jaya 33 outlet, where topics range from saké basics to pairings (usually three to four types of saké with light bites). Keep an eye on Kampachi’s Facebook page for class announcements, or just call up the outlet to reserve a spot (classes are usually limited to ten students per class).

Every second and fourth Saturday of the month, 5-6.30pm. From RM82.

Shopping, Supermarkets

Play schoolgirl (or boy, if that’s your thing) with purikura

icon-location-pin Mid Valley City

If photo booths are set up at bars to document your jolly (read: piss-drunk) moments, you’d find the location of the purikura booths at AEON BiG supermarket suspiciously peculiar. What is there to document? Your trip to the milk shelf? But here’s the really fun bit about purikura – you can ‘decorate’ your photos to make them seem like you’re having a great time. Add frames, stamps, sparkles, heart shapes, moustaches, cat ears, confetti and text to a bog-standard instant photo; choose between a natural and edgy filter; or draw freehand to add personality. Don’t worry about blemishes; the Japanese are at the top of their game when it comes to (Photoshop-ed) enlarged eyes and baby-smooth skin.

Near the kids’ entertainment area in front of AEON BiG, Mid Valley Megamall. Thirteen tokens (RM13) for an A5-sized photo.

Shopping, Markets and fairs

Go to a Japanese fish market

icon-location-pin Kuchai Lama

If you ever need to host a sashimi feast, Top Catch Fisheries is where the party’s at. While parking may be a nightmare, the fresh (salmon is delivered every two days) and fair-priced takeaway sashimi (RM27 for 500g) makes it more than worthwhile.

If you need an alternative, IZUMI Japanese fish market brings in fresh salmon four times a week – every Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. You can also dine at the restaurant – located at the back of the shop – and feast on Japanese favourites such as sushi, noodles, agemono, yakimono and more.