No matter where you come from to visit Paris, you will be amazed by the many different places it hides, some of whom are clearly of other countries inspirations. As an example, I will tell you in this article about places we could describe as Japanese places! If you feel like traveling to Japan while you are in Paris, here is what you should try.
The “Pâtisserie Ciel”
Lets start off with a light, gourmet discovery. The angel cake, which has become a huge food craze in Japan, is a light, low-calorie cake, so airy and light, in fact, that some say it is the food of the angels. The master chef who makes it is in the heart of historical Paris in a place Pâtisserie Ciel (Heaven Cake Shop) in the 5th arrondissement. A few months ago, it was one of the partners at the Cannes Film Festival. Its chef, Hironobu Fukano, creator of these delicious, sublime cakes which both look and taste wonderful was previously chef at the one-Michelin starred Sola at 12 Rue de lHôtel Colbert, in the 5th arrondissement, and also at Pierre Hermé in Tokyo.
The “Pâtisserie Toraya”
My second suggestion is due to re-open on 20 June after four months of renovation work. In the 1st arrondissement, Pâtisserie Toraya is an absolute must for those wishing to tr Japanese food. Japanese confectionery, made with natural ingredients including rice and wheat flour, agar-agar and beans, is considered an art for the five senses. Toraya first started confectionery-making in the mid-16th century in Kyoto, and was supplier to the Imperial Court throughout its history. Today, Toraya has several specialities, some created exclusively in Paris and therefore not available in Japan: Yokan, azuki-bean cake, Namagashi, Monaka, Manjû and Suiko are all excellent accompaniments to the delicately scented Japanese teas.
And a final piece of news, Sanae Hisada, the multiple award-winning Guild of Cheesemakers « Master Cheesemaker » has now set up shop in the heart of Paris. Her store is a real delight for cheese aficionados. Born in Japan, she now spends her time travelling the length and breadth of France discovering the rich variety of cheeses and, from her store at 47 Rue de Richelieu, does her bit for developing the French cheese market in Japan. She also organizes regional food tours of France.
Kimonoya and other shops
On a slightly different note, though it might looks a bit surprising, those who are wishing to buy items they could buy in Japan will have no difficulty finding what they need in Paris. They are spoilt for choice at the big Japanese grocery store at 46 Rue des Petits Champs, in the 2nd arrondissement. As well as dishes and kitchenware, it also has, for example, a large selection of rice, seaweed, sauces and soups. Juji-ya, a smaller grocery store at 46 Rue Sainte-Anne, also has a range of food products. At Miyakodori, you can find Japanese tableware (at number 1 Impasse Guéménée, in the 4th arrondissement) and at Cool Japan (45 Rue Sainte Anne), decorative or craft objects including articles made from gold leaf. Yodoya is a real Aladdins cave that sells all kinds of objects (6 Rue Saint Gilles, also in the 4th arrondissement). And finally, at Kimonoya, the oldest Japanese shop in Paris, you can find all kinds of Japanese arts and crafts objects. Its a shop worth visiting, particularly as the design work was done by Machi Kojima in collaboration with the architect Gérald Ménager, a great lover of all things Japanese. In Kimonoya, Japanese tourists can buy all sorts of items connected with traditional Japanese art (calligraphy, tea ceremony or flower arranging). It is also in Pariss 4th arrondissement at 11 Rue du Pont Louis-Philippe.
For the visitors who are seeking the attractions and culture of their country of the rising sun should make their way without further ado to the Japanese Culture Centre in Paris (MCJP), located at 101 Quai Branly in the 15th arrondissement. There is a wide variety of workshops, shows, cultural conferences and exhibitions on offer.
For the spiritual and Zen side, disciples of Shinto and Buddhism can go to the Buddhist Pantheon in the Musée Guimet or the Dojo Zen in the 13th arrondissement. The Buddhist Pantheon is an annex of the Musée Guimet. It houses a collection that is unique in Europe: 250 Japanese artworks, collected by Emile Guimet on his travels around the Japanese islands in 1876. What makes the Buddhist Pantheon so original is the presentation and explanation of the venerated objects and also the authentic Tea Pavilion in the garden. The Pavilion hosts the legendary Japanese Tea Ceremony, a wonderfully traditional activity that is rarely seen in France.
And finally, the tourist in a Japanese mood can visit Dojo Zen Saint-Germain at 8 Rue dAvron, the Shinnyo-En temple in the 17th arrondissement at 36 Rue Ampère or, for a pleasant shiatsu session (based on the Iokaï school), at 50 Quai des Orfèvres, in the 1st arrondissement.
Everything you need to combine a visit to Paris with Japanese cultural traditions.
Didier Moinel Delalande is a Director at Hotel Mathurin.
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