Toronto is home to many Japanese-Canadian organizations such as the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre, which serves to promote and celebrate Japanese culture in the city. For those interested in exploring the culture further, there are numerous Japanese language schools, such as Japademy Japanese School, and cultural centres around the city.
According to the Statista Research Department, approximately 16,600 Japanese people lived in Toronto and it is the second highest number during the past ten years. Additionally, the city’s Japanese population has been expanding almost yearly, reaching a peak of nearly 16,900 people in 2020. As a result, Toronto has been home to a vibrant and diverse Japanese culture. It is evident in Toronto’s many Japanese restaurants, shops, and cultural events. From festivals like the Toronto Japanese Summer Festival to the annual Toronto Natsu Matsuri, there are plenty of opportunities to explore and experience the unique and exciting aspects of Japanese culture. From traditional festivals to modern music and art, the Japanese culture in Toronto has something for everyone.
For those interested in exploring the culture further, there are numerous Japanese language schools, such as Japademy Japanese Language School, and cultural centres around the city. Many Japanese-Canadian businesses serve to bring the culture to life in the city. From Japanese-style bakeries to Japanese fashion stores, the Japanese culture in Toronto is alive and well.
Table of Contents:
1 Japanese Language Schools in Toronto
2 Japanese Local Cafes in Toronto
3 Japanese Food Franchises
4 Japanese Restaurants in Toronto
5 Japanese Clothes, Cosmetics, and Home Goods
6 Japanese Books and Magazines
7 Japanese Martial Arts
8 Other Japanese Cultural Activities
Toronto has a large population of people with Japanese heritage. Therefore, the city’s plethora of Japanese language schools should not come as a surprise. Toronto is home to numerous cultural and educational institutions that promote the study of the Japanese language and culture. These institutions allow students to practice their language skills in a supportive learning environment while also learning about the language, culture, and history of Japan.
Here are some of the best Japanese language schools in Toronto:
Japademy is a Japanese language school located at The Village Hive - Duncan Mill Road, North York ON M3B3M4. It offers a range of classes and courses to help students learn Japanese and gain proficiency. Classes are taught in small groups with an emphasis on communication and cultural exchange.
Japademy offers Japanese lessons in Toronto where students can learn with native Japanese teachers. Through these lessons, students can become proficient Japanese speakers and enjoy Japanese culture to the fullest. Their lessons are beginner friendly and group lessons run usually on weekdays afternoons and Saturdays.
For those who prefer to study online, Japademy also provides Japanese video courses -which students can watch to practice on their own time from any device- and Japanese online lessons for groups and individuals.
Aitas Japanese Language School is an accredited language school located in Toronto that provides Japanese language instruction to students of all levels. They welcome students from around Canada, and they aim to provide them with the skills and assurance to use the language in a variety of settings, from everyday conversations to professional interactions. They also give students a complete learning experience. They support teachers and students at every stage of the process by encouraging an open and honest exchange of important information.
Aita's curriculum is designed to provide students with the language proficiency they need to converse fluently and confidently in Japanese. Additionally, they provide a range of classes, such as beginner, intermediate, and advanced courses, in addition to private lessons, cultural activities, and special seminars. Lastly, they can assist you in making travel arrangements or applying for further studies in Japan.
The Toronto Japanese Language School is a community-based Japanese language school that provides quality Japanese language instruction to students of all levels. The school offers classes for children, adults, seniors, and individuals who want to learn Japanese for work or travel, as well as specialized classes. The Toronto Japanese Language School also provides a range of cultural activities, including calligraphy, origami, and cooking classes in Japan Finally, it aims to create a friendly and encouraging environment where students can stud the Japanese language and culture.
Toronto is a diverse and multicultural city, with a large and vibrant Japanese community. As a result, there is likely a demand for Japanese-inspired cafes from people who are interested in experiencing Japanese culture and cuisine. Japanese cafes, or "kissaten", have been popular in Japan for many years and have gained a following around the world. These cafes are often known for their cozy atmosphere, unique drinks and desserts, and relaxed vibe, which may appeal to people looking for a different type of cafe experience. In addition, Japanese cuisine and culture have gained popularity around the world in recent years. These factors may have contributed to the growth of Japanese cafes in Toronto and other cities.
Many Japanese cafes in Toronto offer a variety of food and drink options that are popular with locals and tourists alike. Some popular options include:
Sasaki Fine Pastry is located deep inside J-Town in Markham. It is a small yet cute cafe that offers wagashi or hand-made Japanese snacks. Both the daifuku and dorayaki wagashi offered here pair well with their tea selection.
All of their daifuku are hand-made, and flavors change with the seasons. The typical black bean flavor made using Hokkaido black beans is the one mainstay. Their other daifuku contain fresh cream. It is a modern take on the traditional dessert, thus it should be chilled before eating. Their daifuku also come in strawberry, chestnut cream, matcha cream, and sakura cream flavors. On the other hand, dorayaki is a classic Japanese mini-cake known by many as Doraemon’s favorite food. Red bean or red bean combined with several types of cream are the two options for dorayaki. If you haven’t tried daifuku or dorayaki before, Sasaki Fine Pastry is the best place to go!
Daigyo Cafe is located at 4909 Yonge Street in North York. It is a dessert spot inspired by traditional Japanese culture. Its interior was created to give customers the impression that they were entering an authentic tea house. The interior is complete with paper lanterns that brighten up the nighttime vibe. Its menu is packed with delectable desserts that customers can enjoy.
The items on the Daigyo menu are named after kitsune (Japanese foxes) and neko (cats). Two of Daigyo's dessert names which are Shizuki Kitsune and Hatsuki Neko represent this. The nine-tailed kitsune is the inspiration for the Shizuki Kitsune. A Japanese legend claims that it can only be seen at night. Shizuki Kitsune is an ice cream with yuzu and dragon fruit flavors that is garnished with sesame and dragon fruit mochi. On the other hand, the Hatsuki Neko was inspired by the traditional Japanese neko, which is usually spotted at night. It has a base of black sugar crystal jelly and it comes with matcha ice cream and a rice cracker shaped like a paw. Because of the desserts’ inspirations, both of them are only available to customers in the evening.
If you want to experience unique Japanese-inspired treats, then Daigyo Cafe is perfect for you!
Cafe Wanoka is located at 2101 Brimley Road, Scarborough. Cafe Wanoka serves Japanese- style brunch and coffee, as well as pastries and cakes. This includes the famous tofu cheesecake which is a 15-year staple at Nakamura Bakery in J-Town. This tofu cheesecake has a thin graham wafer crust and a generous amount of whipped topping and seasonal fresh fruit as the garnish.
In addition to the cakes, the display window offers a variety of chocolate and almond croissants. Furthermore, there are cream puffs in the flavors of Hojicha, vanilla bean, and matcha with red bean. Lastly, Cafe Wanoka, whose name translates to "the fragrance of wafuu" or "Japanese style," uses Japanese ingredients in all of its dishes, including the brunch options.
If you want to experience a Japanese-style brunch with coffee, cake, or other pastries, then you should definitely try going to Cafe Wanoka!
Due to the popularity of Japanese cuisine, there are many food franchises in Toronto as well as many other places worldwide. Japanese cuisine has gained more and more popularity in recent years as a result of its focus on savory flavors and fresh, high-quality ingredients. Additionally, customers and franchise owners may find Japanese food franchises intriguing due to their reputation for providing high-quality food and excellent service. As a result, Toronto and other cities have a high demand for Japanese food franchises.
Some of the popular Japanese food franchises in Toronto include:
Fuwa Fuwa is a soufflé pancake and dessert cafe located in Toronto. They are famous for their handcrafted Japanese soufflé pancakes. These fluffy pancakes are typically served as a symbol of good fortune after weddings. Seven days a week, Fuwa Fuwa brings these fluffy charms to Toronto to promote the daily celebration. You can never go wrong with their flavors like tiramisu or raspberry and caramelized banana pancakes. Remember that most days, they have lineups down the block. So, make sure to get there early to get your fix of these light, sweet, and completely addictive pancakes!
Hazukido is an international bakery chain specializing in Japanese croissants and it has many chains located in Toronto. The first North American location of this huge brand is their Toronto store, which is situated on the first level of the Atrium. Hazukido is renowned for its signature folding technique, which uses flour from Japan and butter from Europe. They offer over 100 different croissant varieties, and you can usually find 14 of them on their menu at once, which changes seasonally.
Contrary to croissants from your typical cafe bakery, Hazukido's are definitely shorter, flakier, and a little fluffier. Their famous salted egg yolk croissants and their deluxe chocolate are their signatures. Additionally, they sell bubble tea and bottles of cold brew made with Hatch beans.
Uncle Tetsu is a Japanese-based chain of bakeries known for their signature Japanese cheesecake. It originated in Japan and has expanded to locations around the world, including Toronto, Canada. Uncle Tetsu’s signature Japanese cheesecakes are soft and fluffy. They are easy to eat and they’re great for everyone!
The Original Signature Cheesecake is the world-famous staple of Uncle Tetsu. It’s delightfully light, airy, fluffy, and moist. Amazingly, it’s like eating a cloud when you try it fresh from the oven. You can also eat it cold, where the texture is slightly denser and the cream cheese flavor is more prominent. Uncle Tetsu also sells madeleines in addition to their well-known cheesecake.
The best plan of action if you want to savor Uncle Tetsu's cheesecake is to arrive at their location at 10:15 am and wait until the store opens for business 45 minutes later to get access to the first batch of cakes!
Japanese cuisine is a diverse and complex food culture with a wide range of dishes and flavors. Some popular dishes that are often served at Japanese restaurants include sushi, sashimi, ramen, and grilled barbecue. Many Japanese restaurants also serve sake, a type of Japanese rice wine, and other traditional beverages. Japanese restaurants can be found in many cities around the world, particularly in Toronto, and are popular for their flavorful food and unique atmosphere.
Some of the popular Japanese restaurants in Toronto include:
Gyu-Kaku is a Japanese BBQ restaurant that provides an authentic Japanese yakiniku (grilled barbecue) dining experience where customers share premium cooked meats over a flaming charcoal grill while sipping on Japanese sake, shochu, and frosty cold beers. Gyu-Kaku’s menu of grilled meats, appetizers, and other foods makes it a real carnivore's dream. Their best- sellers are the Harami Skirt Steak in Miso Marinade and the Certified Angus Kalbi Short Rib in Tare Sweet Soy Marinade.
Hokkaido Ramen Santouka is an acclaimed Japanese ramen chain located at 2057 Yonge Street, Toronto, Canada. Its founder, Yuzaka, has created nuances of smell and flavor that are meant to be savored completely. As a result, customers are encouraged to consume every last drop of their soups. The tokusen toroniku ramen is their house specialty. Slices of tender pork cheek are also included in any of the several broths they create in-house, such as the spicy miso ramen with three secret chili peppers. Overall, Hokkaido Ramen Santouka is a great place for a family dinner or a lunch break.
Tora is a venture from Aburi Restaurants Canada, the team behind Miku Toronto and Miku Waterfront in Vancouver, located at 3401 Dufferin Street in Toronto. This concept is a derivative of the well-known traditional sushi train. In Tora, you'll choose made-to-order items using a tablet that's on each table where you can scroll through the touchscreen menu to add items to your order rather than picking items up off a rotating track. Fresh handmade sushi will be delivered through the two-tiered sushi laneway that runs beside the sitting a few minutes after your order was sent to the kitchen. If this isn’t your style, don’t worry because there’s also a table service in the lounge area.
Tora specializes in "aburi" sushi, a type of sushi. It is a kind of sushi that is served after being partially grilled or seared with a blowtorch. This procedure gives a distinct flavor and texture to the sushi. Nigiri, sashimi, rolls, a huge selection of hot and cold dishes, and dessert are featured on the menu. Furthermore, Tora provides a variety of creative vegetarian options. These include an eggplant nigiri and a miso tofu inari. Finally, Tora also provides various beverages including sake, Japanese beer, green tea, and others.
Gyubee is an all-you-can-eat Japanese barbecue restaurant that provides quality and fresh ingredients. It is the first in Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area with locations in downtown Toronto, Scarborough, and Markham. Instead of sushi, Gyubee serves a variety of raw meats that can be grilled at the table along with several ready-to-eat side dishes like salmon carpaccio, bibimbap, miso soup, and cold noodles.
Gyubee's focus is on using flavorful, high-quality ingredients that can stand on their own without additional sauces. In addition, there is a good choice of vegetables on the menu. Asparagus, zucchini, and all varieties of mushrooms are included. The interior of Gyubee was spacious, stylish, and decorated with dark wood. If you eat at Gyubee, yakiniku will be wonderfully introduced to you!
These are just a few of Toronto's top Japanese restaurants. However, you may check out the best-ranked Japanese restaurants in Toronto on Toronto's Michelin Guide if you're interested in dining at other, more expensive restaurants that also provide a special and lovely dining experience.
Japanese fashion, cosmetics, and home goods are known for their high quality, attention to detail, and unique aesthetic. Japanese clothing brands are known for their attention to fit and construction, and many pieces are designed with a sense of minimalism and simplicity. In addition, Japanese cosmetics are also highly regarded, and many Japanese beauty products are known for their natural ingredients and innovative formulations. Furthermore, Japanese home goods are also popular for their attention to detail and high-quality craftsmanship. These can include items such as pottery, kitchenware, and furniture.
Overall, Japanese products are known for their attention to detail, high-quality materials, and unique aesthetic. Whether you are interested in fashion, cosmetics, or home goods, there are many excellent Japanese brands to choose from. Here are some of the best Japanese stores for clothes, cosmetics, and home goods:
Oomomo is a Japanese variety store located in Toronto and it looks like it was plucked from the suburbs of Tokyo, Japan. This Canadian chain has opened five stores in Canada since the end of 2018. You can buy a variety of everyday necessities at Oomomo, as well as quirky items you didn't know you needed, like a decorative stamp for your tofu. Along with unusual beauty findings like hair mascara to cover gray hairs, you can also find attractive patterned dinnerware, crafting supplies galore, and a variety of Marie Kondo-approved storage containers. The majority of the goods at Oomomo are produced by the well-known Japanese company Daiso, and almost everything there is imported from Japan.
Sanko Trading Co. has been open since 1968. Since then, it has been serving the Japanese community in Toronto with a wide range of Japanese groceries. Sanko is a one-stop shop for purchasing Japanese goods and food. It is filled with countless varieties of spices, sauces, and ingredients that are necessary for an authentic Japanese culinary experience. Additionally, the focus on quality and detail is evident as soon as you walk into Sanko. Friendly staff who are continually stocking and cleaning the aisles will greet you right away.
Japan Beauty Images is a Japanese cosmetics and toiletry store located in Toronto, devoted to offering top-notch Japanese products and services. They also provide a wide range of Japanese cosmetics, toiletries, health items, and souvenirs under various brands to suit your needs. The Sakuya Cream, Sakuya Lotion, and Sakuya Face Cleanser are three of their featured products. To ensure you get the best service, Japan Beauty Images provides Japanese beauty consultants with years of experience.
Uniqlo is a Japanese clothing apparel company focusing on designing, manufacturing, and retailing casual wear and accessories for men, women, and children. It was initially established as a textile manufacturer in Yamaguchi, Japan, and now, it is already a recognized global brand with over 1000 outlets, some of which are in Toronto, making it one of the largest fashion retailers. Uniqlo’s flagship is LifeWear which is high-quality, innovative clothing that is universal in design and comfort.
Muji is a popular Japanese minimalist brand and is Canada’s favorite Japanese minimalist retail shop. Muji Atrium is now the largest Muji store outside of Asia. More than 4000 products, including apparel, food, and household goods, are available in the store. The flagship location, Muji Atrium, also has a coffee counter, an aroma bar, and an area for in-store customization called Muji yourself, which offers a variety of services like embroidery, stamping, sticker printing, and alterations. Last but not least, Muji Atrium provides customers with the opportunity to customize their Muji products through services like digital fabric printing and laser engraving.
Japanese books and magazines cover a wide range of genres and topics. It includes fiction, non-fiction, academic, children’s books, manga, light novels, and more. Blue Tree Books, which is located at Steeles Ave in Markham, is a must-visit if you're seeking a Japanese bookstore in Toronto. It is the only bookshop in Canada with a focus on Japanese literature, magazines, and other small items. You can find a variety of publications here, including academic books, comics, brand books, bunko-novels, and art books. So, if you’re looking for a Japanese book or magazine in Toronto, Blue Tree Books is perfect for you!
Toronto is home to many Japanese martial arts schools and organizations that offer a variety of disciplines such as judo, karate, aikido, kendo, and sumo. These schools typically offer classes for students of all ages and skill levels. They may also offer training in other traditional Japanese arts such as iaido (the art of sword drawing) and jodo (the art of the short staff).
Here are some organizations in Toronto that you can attend if you wish to learn one of the various types of Japanese martial arts:
The Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre is a non-profit organization that celebrates the unique culture, history, and legacy of Japanese Canadians for the benefit of all Canadians. It is recognized worldwide as an important and vibrant community institution. All of the martial arts programs operated at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre are affiliated with Japan. More importantly, these are all recognized by Martial Arts federations on both national and international levels.
You must be a member before you can register for the JCCC martial arts programs. Members of the JCCC can participate in aikido, iaido, jodo, judo, karate, kendo, kyudo, and naginata martial arts programs. Aside from teaching skills and techniques, the instructors at the JCCC educate students in the tradition and discipline associated with these sports. Their martial arts classes are catered to different skill levels and age groups. If you have no prior experience with martial arts, it is advised that you observe a class before registering.
Judo Ontario is a registered non-profit amateur association that governs the sport of Judo in Ontario, Canada. They are aiming to promote judo by fostering a culture of competitiveness, enjoyment, and learning. Their programs include a high-performance program, a youth academy program, and a female-only program. Similar to the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre, you also have to be a member of Judo Ontario first before you can register for a program.
The Canadian Kendo Federation is the national organization responsible for promoting and regulating the practice of kendo, iaido, and jodo in Canada. It is affiliated with the International Kendo Federation (IKF) and is responsible for representing Canada at international kendo events. It also works to promote the exchange of information and technical expertise among the members of the organization and to foster a sense of community within the Canadian kendo community. You have to be a member of the Canadian Kendo Federation first before you can join any program.
The Canadian Itosu-Kai Honbu Dojo teaches traditional Japanese-Okinawakan karate and kobudo in Toronto, Ontario. It is affiliated with the Itosu-ryu Karatedo International Federation (IKIF) and the All Japan Kobudo Association. Itosu-kai is a style of karate and is known for its emphasis on traditional karate training and the development of strong character and discipline. Their classes include drop-in classes and kid’s classes. Through the international head office in Japan, the Canadian Itosu-Kai Honbu Dojo's aims to monitor the teaching of the officially recognized Canadian branches of the Japan Karatedo Itosu-kai.
The Ronin Kai Karate Federation teaches a traditional style of karate. Honor and respect are fundamental components of their training, which is based on the martial arts traditions of the Samurai. Additionally, they want to provide students with a deep understanding of karate, where they are encouraged to train in harmony with one another and exceed their physical limitations. Each lesson at Ronin Kai Karate covers the following: kihon (basics), kata (forms), kumite (fighting), goshin waza (self-defense), and meisou (meditation). If you want to learn a traditional style of karate, you can try a free class with Ronin Kai Karate!
Japan is famed for its rich artistic traditions, including ikebana (flower arrangement) and origami, in addition to many other cultural activities. Many individuals take pleasure in learning and engaging in these traditional arts and crafts to better understand Japanese culture.
The following school and club are where you can learn other Japanese cultural activities like flower arrangement and making origami in Toronto:
Ikebana is a traditional art form that involves arranging flowers and other plant materials in a way that is aesthetically pleasing and expressive. The Ohara School of Ikebana is one of the major schools of ikebana and is known for its emphasis on natural, asymmetrical arrangements that seek to capture the beauty of the flowers and the surrounding environment. The School of Ikebana Toronto Chapter offer classes, workshops, and other activities for those interested in learning about and practicing ikebana.
The Origami Society of Toronto is home to a steadily growing group of origami enthusiasts. It is involved in community events around the city and has participated at venues such as Harbourfront Centre, the Art Gallery of Ontario, and the Royal Ontario Museum. Members of the Origami Society of Toronto are regularly invited by event organizers to teach, demonstrate, and display their origami. If you want to learn more about paper folding and share your experiences and knowledge with others, the Origami Society of Toronto is perfect for you!
Toronto is home to a large and vibrant Japanese community and there are many ways to experience and learn about Japanese culture in the city. You can learn the Japanese language at several Japanese schools in Toronto, eat at various Japanese cafes, food franchises, and restaurants, shop for Japanese clothing, cosmetics, home goods, books, and magazines, practice various forms of Japanese martial arts, or engage in additional Japanese cultural activities like ikebana and origami. There are still many other things that you can do in Toronto to experience Japanese cultures and traditions.
Japanese culture is indeed a rich and multifaceted culture that is both vibrant and deeply rooted in tradition. It is a culture that continues to evolve and change, while also maintaining its strong cultural identity. We hope that this comprehensive guide to Japanese culture in Toronto has helped you to become gain more knowledge about the Japanese culture in Toronto and to become more engaged and involved with it.