Hello, folks! Recently, I’ve been sharing a bit of some of my local travels on Twitter. Insert shameless self-promotion: follow me @ArriaCross! 😉 They’re not much, just snapshots with brief descriptions. Then I realized that I wanted to write about these trips with more detail in this blog. So here we are today!
For those of you who don’t know, I live in Toronto, Canada…eh? It’s a very diverse, multicultural and populous city. As a Japanese culture enthusiast, however, I find it sad that there aren’t a lot of authentic Japanese places to visit here. We have China Town, Greektown, Little Italy, an unofficial Little Manila, and other similar cultural hot spots. Sure, we have J-Town and the unofficial Little Tokyo downtown, but they are nothing compared to the level of China Town or even Greektown. Nevertheless, I’m still thankful that we have these places where I could enjoy Japanese food and culture…and buy some raw manga and magazines. 😉
*The following photos are mine. My apologies for the quality. I’m not much of a photographer.
First up is J-Town, a small Japanese shopping mall in Markham. This place is actually more accessible to me, only two bus-ride away from where I live. And when I say “small”, I mean it’s a really small shopping mall with only a few stores. Most of them are restaurants. I went with my cousin a few weeks ago. Below is the main entrance to the place.
This is the main square. It’s quite beautiful. There’s a park-like seating area with benches. There’s even a small, beautiful fountain-pond. You can’t see it in this photo, but it’s in front of Shiso Tree. It’s the area where the shrubs are. I know I took a photo of it but due to my clumsy fingers, I accidentally deleted it. No!!!
My cousin and I first entered this sort of department store. It’s quite small, but it’s divided into sections: books, beauty, clothing, home hardware, souvenirs. I will be focusing on the book section in this post. The beauty section has Japanese make-up and other facial, hair, and skin products. They’re quite a treat, but I’m not really into make-up, so I didn’t pay much attention here. The clothing section is okay, I guess. The most exciting for me in this section are the Japanese-style coin purses. As for the clothes, I think you can find them at any other stores. The home hardware section is not really a section, but a small corner with cool, small Japanese appliances. And finally, the most exciting section—the book section! Below are some Japanese books and magazines it offers.
Fellow ONE PIECE fans, do you recognize the jolly roger hanging on the wall? Ehehe. I actually squealed when I first saw it.
As you can see, there are quite the selection of raw manga. And above the shelves—no, you’re not hallucinating—they’re Attack on Titan figures. Gasp!
(´「^o^)「 When I saw this ONE PIECE manga section, I felt like I was in heaven.
Here are some books and magazines for younger readers.
Chopper!!! And oh my gosh, Dragon Ball!!!
The book section is definitely my favourite. There are also a lot of novels, and of course light novels, but I didn’t take photos of them because I got too excited over the ONE PIECE manga volumes. There aren’t a lot of figures, but their selection is quite nice. And of course, there are DVDs of anime, movies, variety shows, concerts and other stuff. There are also CDs and a nice selection of cool and cute merchandise. I would have been perfectly happy to stay in this one section, but our purpose for coming is to explore. With hesitation, we left the store. Perhaps my only complaint would be the high prices. $30 for a single magazine is just too much, but I guess it makes sense since they’re imported, but still….
Next, we went to the grocery store. Here is Doraemon inviting you to follow J-Town on Instagram. 😉 I don’t know why he’s surrounded by Korean products when this is a Japanese store. Oh well.
The grocery story is actually where I spent the most money. I bought a lot of Kit-Kats (Viva Matcha!), Pocky and other yummy Japanese sweets, snacks, and treats. I ate all of them to celebrate Fujinsei’s 3rd blogiversary. But they also have a lot of other Japanese home cooking ingredients, which is cool. There’s also a small section selling all these cool Japanese products, such as setta sandals, fans, masks, and other stuff.
My cousin and I enjoyed J-Town. It’s very small, but it can be quite fun, especially since the employees and most of its customers are all Japanese. You can practice your Japanese skills there, for sure. For more information about this shopping mall, visit the official J-Town website. Monthly sidewalk sale schedules are posted on the website. Since I’ll be abroad this July, I plan on going either or both during the August and September sale dates.
COO Café Bread or Rice
My cousin had been constantly telling me that she wanted to eat omurice. I told her to search for places that sell them. She did, and we ended up travelling a long way just to reach this small but charming restaurant called Coo, located at Bloor and Dufferin. It’s run by Japanese staff, and they’re all very nice and welcoming.
We immediately ordered omurice. We also ordered gyoza, but we already finished them before I remembered to take photos. Delicious! The omurice below is priced at $13.50. A little on the expensive side for a single order, but it’s worth it. The omelette itself is very soft and fluffy. It’s laced with savoury cheese. The tomato sauce rice was also yummy. I’m not the biggest fan of the demi-glace sauce because it’s a little too sweet for my taste, but my cousin loves it. Overall, the omurice is just…YUM!!!
We also ordered Egg Benedict with fries. We had the option of choosing either salad or fries or a combination of both, but since we were pigging out that day, my cousin and I decided we’d go all the way and chose all fries instead. It’s priced at $12.50. Again, a little on the expensive side but the serving is big, so it’s reasonable. My favourite part of this dish is the smoked salmon. Delicious!
We had a great experience with this restaurant. The washrooms are nice and clean. I’ll definitely return to this place one of these days. I think it’s a good place for a date, too. 😉 For more information about this place, visit the official Coo website.
MUJI & TSUJIRI Toronto
Afterwards, we headed downtown to this popular Japanese desserts shop called Tsujiri. We held back ordering dessert at Coo, so our stomachs would still have room for Tsujiri. There was an insanely long line when we arrived, so we decided to walk and explore nearby stores first. There’s a lot of Japanese restaurants along this area. We wanted to try them all but we just ate lunch, so we promised ourselves we’ll return next time.
We arrived at MUJI after walking for a few minutes. It’s a really cool, minimalist Japanese store selling a wide array of products. They have clothes, shoes, home decoration, health and beauty stuff, pens and stationery, candies and a lot more. The store was packed, so it felt very warm inside. And just so you know, I’m not the nicest whenever I feel overheated. I regret that I let the heat overwhelm me, not buying anything. My cousin bought these yummy candies, which I
rudely commented looked like medical cotton balls. Now you can imagine how I am during hot days.
On a positive note, we saw a pretty Japanese woman wearing authentic yukata, complete with Japanese-style wooden umbrella. Her two adorable children are following her. The little girl was also wearing a yukata like her mother—so ADORABLE! The little boy, however, was wearing regular T-shirt and shorts. For more information, visit the official MUJI website.
When I felt like I couldn’t stand the heat any longer, I urged my cousin to leave MUJI and head back to Tsujiri. We did. I got this beautiful matcha sundae below. My cousin ordered Shiratama houjicha sundae.
Since the shop was so full, we were forced to eat our sundaes standing outside. Both of our choices are so YUMMY!!! I felt so much better after eating, and I cooled down a lot. Unfortunately, the pastries were all sold out when we arrived. We’ll definitely return next time to try their other selections. What’s more, the staff are all Japanese. I’m not sure if we were just lucky that day, but it was cool to hear Japanese while being served. For more information about TSUJIRI, visit their official website.
Ice Cream Rolls at Pacific Mall
This happened more recently. I dragged my younger sister to Pacific Mall, just one bus ride away from where we live. It’s an Asian shopping centre. You can find almost anything in this place, and a lot of them are cheap. You have to be careful, though, and inspect the quality first before buying. Some stores also allow haggling, so it’s helpful to be charming to get the best prices. 😉 The majority are Chinese stores, but there are also some Korean and Japanese stores, mostly beauty boutiques. Upstairs, we saw a small ice cream rolls place and we immediately ordered.
I ordered green tea ice cream rolls topped with nata de coco and strawberries.
My sister ordered Oreo ice cream rolls topped with—drum rolls—OREOS!
They tasted like regular ice cream…only rolled. It’s cool, though. To be honest, I’m not very impressed by the presentation but I’m not really complaining since they were pretty cheap, only $5+. But I hear that there are other fancier ice cream rolls places, so I’ll just drag my sister or whoever’s available to a fancier place next time. For more information about Pacific Mall, visit their official website.
Thoroughly Enjoyed Myself
This is the first time I’m posting something like this. It’s quite fun. I hope to do this again soon. Thank you for reading. If you ever find yourself in Toronto, I recommend these places. That’s all for today, folks. Cheers!
/Wild Arria fled/
Support Fujinsei by using the following affiliate links whenever you shop online with these websites:
Fujinsei is also a WordAds member, so if you would be so kind as to turn off your ad blocker when using this site, that would be greatly appreciated.
Read Disclosure Policy for more information about how this site uses affiliate links and ads. Thank you very much for your support!