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Kyoto Garden
Photograph: Shutterstock

Check out the best Japanese culture in London

From the tranquil Kyoto Garden with its resident peacocks 
to lip-smacking takoyaki at Ichiba’s food hall, these top 
Japanese spots – brought to you by Yakult – deserve your attention

Time Out in association with Yakult
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Love Japanese culture but don’t fancy the long-haul flight? Time Out has teamed up with Japanese brand – and little bottle of science – Yakult, to bring you the best places to experience Japanese culture without leaving London. From new Japanese food hall Ichiba bringing regional artisan produce to your plate, to intricately designed kimono at the V&A, via zingy, high-energy game playing at Las Vegas Arcade – read on to get acquainted with Japanese London. And we’ll also reveal how you can get free Yakult and a cool AI tech experience for your office.

Want to see chefs prepare authentic Japanese cuisine while a sake sommelier matches your tipple to your takoyaki? Of course you do! Europe’s biggest Japanese food hall has all bases covered, with artisan produce from Japan, street food, sushi, sashimi, steaming bowls of ramen and (n)oodles more.

Westfield White City.

Japan House Kensington

One of three new cultural centres (the others are in LA and São Paulo), Japan House offers a dose of real Japanese culture – from design to food and tech. The floor tiles are flown in from Awaji Island, food is cooked up by chef Shimizu Akira and the whole shop feels more like an art gallery.

101-111 Kensington High St.

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Kyoto Garden

Take a walk over the stone bridge and say konnichiwa to the koi carp and free-roaming peacocks in Holland Park’s peaceful Kyoto Garden – an oasis of zen that opened in 1991 as a gift from the city of Kyoto.

Holland Park.

JP Books

A Soho emporium of books from the Land of the Rising Sun – with manga comics, art tomes and ‘Hello Kitty’s Guide to Japanese’ alongside more serious language textbooks – as well as stationery and traditional gifts. Ask nicely and they’ll import items for you too.

24-25 Denman St.

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Las Vegas Arcade

Give taiko drumming a bash at this high-energy arcade, where you’ll find everything from rare Japanese games to classic dance mat and racing titles. Be sure to have a go on Konami’s thrillingly retro Bishi Bashi and shooter game Dodonpachi.

89-91 Wardour St.

The V&A has been collecting Japanese art and artefacts ever since it was founded in 1852. There’s armour, tech, ceramics and woodwork, plus textiles and clothing ranging from intricate kimono to Harajuku-tastic Lolita dresses, and art including a woodblock print of Katsushika Hokusai’s immortal ‘Great Wave’.

Cromwell Rd.

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Japanese AI tech 
(and free Yakult) 
for your office

The vending machine is a symbol of modern Japan, dispensing everything from soup to sake. Yakult has created its own artificial intelligence-powered vending machine, using facial recognition technology to identify a new user and language processing to teach them a word in Japanese. It then offers them a free bottle of Yakult, with its unique bacteria that’s scientifically proven to reach the gut alive. If you’d like to work on your Japanese and enjoy a daily free little bottle of Yakult yourself for a week or two, see if Yakult can bring its unique vending machine to your office. Write to vendingmachine@yakult.co.uk with details about the size and location of your office.

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