If all those photos of blooming cherry blossom trees in Japan are giving you serious travel envy, you really need to pop along to Proud East in Haggerston sharpish! On Thursday 6th April, Pop Up Japan launched for a 12 week stint in this lovely venue on Regent’s Canal, and it’s probably the closest thing you can get to being in Japan in London at the moment.
There’s something to suit all tastes – whether you’re looking for traditional culture, new flavours, hands-on activities or just ambience. Proud East has been decorated out in style, with Japanese lanterns, fans and even a mini torii gate over the front door.
It was also fun to see art from cult Japanese illustrator Yuko Higuchi plastering the windows and her new colouring book is also available to buy there! On that note, check back on this blog next week for a competition…
If your belly’s your priority, Tonkotsu (who featured highly in my London ramen round-up blog last year) have taken over the kitchen with their own menu – not just ramen but also gyoza and some amazing sweet potato korokke. There are also Japan-inspired cocktails and Japanese beer on offer, along with sake and Japanese whiskey tasting. I tried two sips of whiskey and it was bloody strong stuff, as you’d expect! I’m a cocktail girl at heart.
There are also some exciting workshops to get involved in – Alice Sushi Art is running origami classes and Sozai Cooking School will teach you how to make sushi! These classes only run on certain days and have to be booked, so make sure you check the website before you pop along.
The main thing that will be bringing me back to Pop Up Japan will be the amazing films! Nomad Cinema is screening a selection of fantastic Japanese films – such as the original Ghost in the Shell, Audition and Battle Royale. I’ve already got my tickets for Seven Samurai and am hoping to fit in Akira as well! Tickets are £11, which is cheaper than the big cinemas, so there’s no excuse not to go.
As if that wasn’t enough to pique your interest, there are plenty of games to keep you busy. Proud East has its own ping pong and snooker tables but there are also Playstation 4 games to play, such as the new Nier: Automata and Kingdom Hearts.
Pop Up Japan promises to be a very popular event (the launch night was packed) and, frankly, you’d be mad to miss it. There’s something here for every kind of Japanophile. Personally, I’m hoping it’s successful enough to pop up elsewhere in the future, so go along and support it!