Famous for its coffee shops, grunge scene, and frequently inclement weather, the city of Seattle is unlike any other place in the United States. But this cultural hotbed isn’t all uniquely American: There are plenty of places in this Pacific Northwestern hub with a distinctly Far East vibe.
Uniqlo is opening its first store in the Pacific Northwest on November 6 — and to celebrate, we’ve put together a list of the best locations to soak in some Japanese culture in the Emerald City. From the best bowl of ramen you’ve ever tasted to the country’s last remaining Japanese bathhouse, here’s your guide to finding Japan in Seattle.
Looking to find a little zen? The Seattle Japanese Garden should do just the trick. Opened in 1960, the 3.5-acre garden — which was the first post-World War II Japanese-style garden on the West Coast— was constructed by local Japanese-American gardeners following years of immense public demand. The picturesque outdoor space hosts several cultural events and celebrations throughout the year, and is considered by many to be the most authentic Japanese garden in the United States.
Tsukushinbo is the place to go if you’re looking for an authentic Japanese lunch with a home-cooked feel in Seattle. The sushi at this hidden gem is fresh and delicious, the tempura is divine and the staff couldn’t be friendlier. It might just be the coziest spot in the International District! But if you’re eager to indulge in the restaurant’s famous shoyu ramen on a Friday, you better get there by 11:30 am: Tsukushinbo only makes 25 bowls, max. (Trust us: It’s worth it.)
Opening Nov. 6, Uniqlo Bellevue Square marks the Japanese fashion brand’s first official foray into the Pacific Northwest. The 16,000-square-foot Bellevue Square store will feature every element of Uniqlo that’s made America so obsessed with it: Trendy new styles along with timeless basics and high-tech fabrics, designed to enhance your everyday life — all in a rainbow of colors, with perfect fits at an unbeatable price point. Special to this Seattle location is a partnership with the Seattle Seahawks — which will see the NFL team working with Uniqlo to create a youth mentorship program throughout the greater Seattle region. Looking great, feeling great and giving back? It really doesn’t get better. P.S. If you're a Hello Kitty fan, stop by the EMP Museum beginning November 14 to visit Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty sponsored by Uniqlo.
In the market for some super sweet (and super cheap!) Japanese trinkets? You can’t miss Daiso. From kitchen utensils to adorable novelty trinkets to accessories, beauty products, and authentic Japanese snacks, it’s pretty much the Far East-dollar store of your dreams. Most things hover around the $1.50 price point, with more dear goods costing about $6. Plus, there are two locations in Seattle! So no matter where you are, there’s a Daiso in your vicinity.
Kinokuniya is your source for all things manga and anime in Seattle. This international bookstore chain sells hard-to-find Japanese comics, books, magazines, stationery, music, and other collectibles and gifts. It also regularly hosts author talks and workshops. And if you somehow can’t find what you’re looking for at Kinokuniya? The staff is always happy to help special order it for you.
If you find yourself craving some homemade Japanese food while you’re in Seattle, you’ll want to head to Uwajimaya to get the ingredients. Located just five minutes from downtown, the sprawling marketplace has got all your cooking needs, from exotic fruits to fresh meat and, of course, sushi. Asian kitchen gadgets and cosmetics are also available in large quantities, often at an amazing discount. And, if you get hungry mid-shopping spree, there’s even a food court inside!
Designed by Seattle’s first Japanese architect, Sabro Ozasa, and built in 1910, the Panama Hotel—located in Japantown—was once home to immigrants and international travelers. Now, guests come for its heavy doses of old world charm (most rooms have shared bathroom facilities) and historical significance. Inside is a tea and coffee room, offering a wide selection of traditional and rare teas, as well as the United States's only remaining Sento bathhouse—a communal bathhouse where immigrants would come to soak and socialize after a long day.
Seattle Street Style
No amount of rain can stop the style-conscious citizens of Seattle from doing their thing. Often bordering the sartorial line between cutesy and unconventional, Seattleites prefer their clothes classic, with a twist. Whether it’s a cardigan, sheer tee, or one of Uniqlo's Ultra Light Down Water Defender jackets (they repel light rain, making them perfect for Pacific Northwest weather), these babes have top notch layering skills. Check out the gallery above to see what we mean!