Header images courtesy of @guusan_hk (via Instagram) and @wpcpey (via Wikimedia Commons)
It’s no secret that Hongkongers love Japan—despite our small size, Hong Kong is the fourth-biggest source of foreign visitors to the Land of the Rising Sun, after only China, Korea, and Taiwan. And while it doesn’t look like we’ll be pounding the pavement in Tokyo anytime soon, our fascination with all things Japan means that we have a surprisingly robust and diverse selection of Japanese speciality shops in Hong Kong, ranging from department stores to independent grocers and even hardware stores. Read on for our top picks for shops that specialise in Nippon-style goods.
The newest shop on this list, Guu San is a 5,000-square-foot Japanese concept store in Tsim Sha Tsui that comprises three main areas: a grocery zone selling conventional and zero-waste groceries, a café serving fresh rice balls, soups, veggies, and tea, and a salad bar-slash-coffee shop with an in-house roastery. Beyond perishables, Guu San also stocks a selection of interesting lifestyle goods, including beauty products and thoughtfully curated homewares. It’s a zen, beautifully appointed space, with pale wooden fixtures and minimalist packaging that feel like they came straight out of an upscale artisanal store in Ginza.
Guu San, Shop 01–02, 15 Middle Road, Tsim Sha Tsui | (+852) 2892 0868
For vegans and vegetarians who love Japanese food, there is quite literally nothing else like Veggie Labo in Hong Kong. This serene space in Sheung Wan isn’t just a shop—as per the name, it’s also a food lab. The founder opened Veggie Labo after he converted to a plant-based diet and realised that high-quality vegan Japanese ingredients were hard to source in Hong Kong. Everything at Veggie Labo, from the fruit enzyme syrups to the tempura powder, pancake mix, and ground spices, is vegan, and often also gluten-free or organic. In keeping with his mission to make plant-based living more accessible, the founder uses the Veggie Labo platform to share creative plant-based recipes for classic washoku (和食; Japanese cuisine) dishes like grilled eel rice, takoyaki, and chicken karaage. The recipes are generally easy to follow, but he also hosts semi-regular cooking classes if you need a little guidance.
Veggie Labo, Unit 503, 5/F, 3 Wing Lok Street, Sheung Wan
If you’re a sucker for Japanese lifestyle products, then look no further than HOW Department. This massive concept store in Kwun Tong comprises a furniture section, a café, a hairdresser, a lifestyle goods section, and a design studio offering graphic and interior design services. Everything is curated impeccably, from wabi-sabi ceramics to industrial-style furniture and hand-crafted glassware. It’s a great place to spend the day if you’re furnishing your home—or, frankly, if you’re just an aesthete. Don’t miss the home fragrances from Apotheke, wooden furniture from Hiromatsu, and incense from Kongyokudo.
HOW Department, 3/F, Block AB, 99 How Ming Street, Kwun Tong | (+852) 2805 1108
If Guu San reminds us of Ginza, then Don Don Donki is pure Shibuya: loud, flashy, and crammed (but in a good way). Visiting Donki—or Don Quijote, as it’s known in Japan—is an experience unto itself, with its massive selection of wares ranging from fresh ingredients and prepared foods to ordinary household products and some more surprising choices, like portable bidets and personal lubricant that looks like honey.
As a discount megastore where absolutely everything is designed to grab your attention, there’s no such thing as “too much” at Donki—between the incessant jingle, constant heaving mass of shoppers, and seemingly endless inventory, it’s something of a sensory overload. That being said, it’s definitely entertaining, and you’re bound to find a bargain or two if you give it a chance… provided you’re not nursing a headache or hangover, of course.
If you love home-cooked Japanese food but don’t have the time or knowhow to make your own, consider the ready-made meals from Tasting Table Japan Premium. Located inside an unassuming apartment building, this Causeway Bay store specialises in imported washoku and yoshoku (洋食, Japanese-style Western food) products such as marinated mackerel, hamburg steaks, and pre-made gyoza. Most of the items here are prepped in some way, though there is a small selection of frozen vegetables, as well as pantry ingredients like condiments and seasonings. Don’t worry if you don’t recognise everything—there are plenty of samples to go around, and the staff are ready to answer any and all questions you have.
Tasting Table Japan Premium, Flat 1A, 1/F, 5–7 Cleveland Street, Causeway Bay | (+852) 2562 2560
If you’re into dinky handcrafted goods, then Okura is the place for you. This lifestyle store—which means “treasure trove” in Japanese—is a design lover’s dream, with its carefully curated slow-fashion clothing, small trinkets, and decorative objects. The aesthetic here leans heavily into wabi-sabi, with lots of natural fabrics and thoughtful little design touches. In keeping with Okura’s appreciation for craftsmanship and artistry, its retail store also has an exhibition space to showcase the work of local creatives.
Given the size of the Japanese community in and around Quarry Bay, it’s no wonder they’ve got one of the best Japanese stores in Hong Kong. The Tai Koo Shing branch of Apita is a veritable one-stop-shop for anything the average Japanese family would need, from raw ingredients to prepared foods, clothing for kids and adults, toiletries, linens, electronics, and little gifts. Come here when you’re making a Japanese recipe from scratch, or if you need to pick up a housewarming present for a friend in the area.
Located in the quietly hip neighbourhood of Tai Hang, this hardware store specialises in vintage, industrial-looking Japanese hardware. If you’re a fan of metal toolboxes, vintage lightbulbs, apothecary-style drawers, and mid-century décor, then… well, we’re sorry for what’s about to happen to your wallet.
Kanamono Hardware Store, 30B Wun Sha Street, Tai Hang | (+852) 2865 6168
Does Sogo even need any introduction? The Causeway Bay flagship is a Hong Kong landmark, and out of the four Japanese department stores that used to form “Little Ginza,” it’s the only one left. Sogo is owned by a Hong Kong company nowadays, but not much has changed in-store—especially not in the famous Freshmart, where shoppers can find all manner of Japanese groceries and snacks, including fresh taiyaki (鯛焼き; fish-shaped cake), takoyaki (たこ焼き; octopus balls), and wagashi (和菓子; small tea cakes). The other floors, which cover all the typical department store categories (homewares, cosmetics, fashion, toys) feature brands from a wide range of countries, but there’s a strong showing from Japanese brands, especially in the kitchenware department.
Sogo, 555 Hennessy Road, Causeway Bay | (+852) 2833 8338