Here’s how you can experience all the nice things in Japan without leaving S’pore

A themed staycay without hopping on a plane.

| Kayla Wong | Sponsored | December 12, 2020, 02:56 PM

With leisure travel coming to a stop for pretty much the entire year, and with the Covid-19 pandemic a long way off from being wiped out, many Singaporeans have no choice but to stay in the country for now.

While we might not have the luxury of domestic travel, one good thing about living in this multicultural city is having ready access to several kinds of international goods and cuisine.

So even if we have to make do with staycations (at least for those who like to get away from their homes for just a bit), with the range of food items from different countries that we are able to get here, you might be glad to know that you can totally recreate a themed staycation right here in Singapore.

With just a bit of planning, you can feel like you’re taking a year-end holiday in Japan -- well, you will have to make do without the winter aspect -- without hopping onto a plane.

Here’s how.

Japanese-style spas

While you can’t exactly find ryokans, or Japanese inns, here in Singapore, the next best thing is a Japanese-style spa.

For a couple of hours, you can feel like you’re visiting an onsen (hot spring) in Japan -- a luxury that many will appreciate.

You can do so at places like Ikeda Spa, Elements Wellness, Yunomori Onsen & Spa which feature Japanese-style baths with mineral-infused water.

Image via Ikeda Spa

The latter even has communal showers with booths equipped with little stools and buckets for guests to use, just like a real sento, or public bathhouse, in Japan.

Image via Yunomori Onsen & Spa

You can dress in the yukatas they provide and pose for the gram too.

Image via @ploooi/Instagram

You might, however, need a bit of time to get used to being nude completely in front of strangers. The baths are also gender-segregated.

But if you are shy and would like to soak in the water in the privacy of your own room, you can go for a private room at Elements Wellness.

No need to bump into a stranger in a communal space, or look away awkwardly if your eyes happen to meet.

Satisfy your inner weeb at an anime cafe

For lunch, if you like something other than the usual sushi and ramen, you can visit an anime cafe that is reminiscent of Akihabara -- the centre of all things otaku.

ANIPLUS, an anime-themed cafe, is where you can find food that looks exactly like the ones drawn in your favourite anime series -- great if you’re an anime and manga fan who just cannot get enough of Japanese pop culture.

Image via Mandy How

A fun experience for anyone wanting to bring a bit of fiction into real life.

Have dinner at a Japanese dining hall

For dinner, you can go to &JOY Dining Hall at Great World City, which is a Japanese dining hall that features various Japanese food offerings, like ramen and rice bowls topped with grilled pieces of wagyu beef.

Pair your meal with a freshly made, refreshing Jim Beam Highball that goes so well with any food.

Image via Jim Beam

Alternatively, you can go to one of the many izakayas (casual Japanese bars) in Singapore, thanks to the 36,000-strong Japanese community here.

Singaporeans are probably not strangers to the izakaya dining experience.

This is because dishes are commonly served as shared plates in these places. Digging into the same dishes and then ordering more rounds of food and drinks are typical at such places.

This makes it quite different from other dining experiences in Japan, like a restaurant that serves teishoku, which means set meals.

You might also find it slightly harder to get the attention of the servers as they are trained not to drop in on customers too often in order not to disturb them unnecessarily. After all, izakayas are meant to be the go-to hangout for frazzled salarymen to eat, drink, talk and unwind after a day of work.

Image via Jim Beam

Have a small gathering with your friends

But as dining establishments now have to stop serving alcoholic beverages after 10:30pm, you and your friends might have to take your second round of drinking somewhere else.

Before you head back to your hotel though, a quick run to Don Don Donki will supply you with all that you need to carry on your drinking party, or nomikai.

To prolong the night and not get drunk that quickly, you can try making your own drinks, like a “highball”.

Highballs, a refreshing drink made up of whisky, soda and lots of ice served in a tall glass, are a preferred drink for many in Japan for its light taste and relatively lower alcoholic content.

Perfect for those who would rather not be hungover the next day.

To make your own, simply get a whisky of your choice, like a Jim Beam White, some soda, ice and garnish like a lemon wedge.

First, juice some lemon (about 15ml will do) and drop the remaining lemon into the mug. Fill it up with around 30ml of Jim Beam, 120ml of soda and lots of ice -- for a good balance, try to maintain a 1:4 whisky to soda ratio.

You’ll then have a good mug of highball on your hands.

You can get some snacks to go with the drinks too. While there are many different kinds of otsumami, fried ones go especially well with highball as the light refreshing taste of the drink balances out the oiliness and pairs well with the crunchy texture of the food too.

Some examples you can get from Don Don Donki are the Donki Sushi Party Set, chicken karaage, crab croquette, pork gyoza, hon maguro (bluefin tuna) sashimi -- including akami and otoro.

Image via Don Don Donki


You can get a convenient Jim Beam Highball Home Kit Pack and various otsumami at Don Don Donki outlets islandwide.

A Jim Beam Highball Home Kit contains a Jim Beam White, a Bespoke Jim Beam Highball Mug and a soda, which are all that you need to make a highball at home.

If you’re looking for a gift to bring to a gathering with your friends or family, that’s a good option too, especially if they are tired of drinking the usual beers and wine.

And a nice dinner may be just what we need as the year draws to a close.

This sponsored piece by Jim Beam Highball makes the writer look forward to a year-end drinking party to forget 2020.

Top image adapted via Jim Beam Highball