I’ve finally found the information for the Japanese playgroup and language group. This information is probably easy to find for Japanese expats from Japan, but for people like me who don’t have an “in” with the Japanese expat community, it required a bit of digging. I’ll also throw in a couple of essentials like where to shop for Japanese groceries and where to eat authentic Japanese food.
Playgroup & Japanese Language Classes
1. Akachan Kai - This is the only baby/toddler playgroup I’ve come across that is specifically for Japanese moms and children. They meet twice a month either at an indoor play area or at a group member’s house. This probably won’t be interesting to anyone other than Japanese families, but there are quite a few mixed-Japanese families in Dubai so hopefully it helps someone like me.
Where: Group member’s house (every 1st Tuesday) and Fun Square @ Times Square (every 3rd Tuesday)
When: Every 1st and 3rd Tuesday of the month
Time: 10:00am – 12:00pm
2. Nihongo Circle - Nihongo Circle is a volunteer-run group that helps kids improve their Japanese language skills. They take children from 4 years old and up. This group is mainly for children who are “happa” or half-Japanese. There are also a couple of kids who aren’t Japanese, but are simply interested in learning to speak Japanese. Most of the “full” Japanese kids go to Dubai Japanese School so they don’t need to have extra lessons in Japanese.
Where: Al Ittihad Private School, Al Safa 1 (near Safa Park) [FYI this is also called the Jumeirah campus]
When: Every Saturday
Time: 10:00am – 11:15am
Cost: 85 dirhams/month (Japanese Association members) or 105 dirhams/month (non-members)
Website: Nihongo Circle
3. UAE Japan Cultural Center - A non-profit organization that helps bridge cultures of Emirati and Japanese nationals. They organize Japanese language classes, Japanese cultural summer camps and Emirati culture courses taught by UAE nationals.
Website: UAE Japan Cultural Center
Books & Magazines
Dubai Kawaradan – an online newspaper for Japanese expats in Dubai. It’s written entirely in Japanese and covers local events and activities that Japanese expats are involved in.
Kinokuniya - A massive bookstore at Dubai Mall. They have an entire section of Japanese books including manga, children’s magazines, adult’s magazines, comics and more. You can also find things like chopsticks (hashi), origami paper and other miscellaneous Japanese items.
You can also find the usual selection of Japanese manga and magazines at Bento-ya restaurant.
Food & Restaurants
Bento-ya – This is our favorite Japanese restaurant. The food isn’t all fancy shmancy like some of the other Japanese restaurants in Dubai. This is the place you go for homestyle Japanese comfort food. Our favorites are the miso ramen, shake ikura don (grilled salmon and fish eggs) and vegetable fried rice. They have branches on Sheikh Zayed Road and in Garhoud. You can order online for home delivery.
Daiso – Daiso is Japan’s version of a 99¢ store except most items are about 7 dirhams. You can find every kind of knick-knack here from scrapbooking and crafting materials to kitchen ware and Japanese snacks.
Things I’ve bought in the last year from Daiso: keychain clips, netted food covers to keep flies away, a hand bag, pencil box, miso soup bowls, eyebrow tweezers, batteries, soup ladle, bento lunch boxes, small trash can for the car, mini screwdriver set and other things I can’t remember. As you can see, I go there a lot.
Dean’s Fujiya – Japanese grocery store sells all the staple foods a Japanese family needs. It’s kind of hard to find, but it’s generally around the corner from Lamcy Plaza.
Spinney’s - The best Spinney’s for Japanese food is the one at Al Ghurair Centre. They have a small section of frozen foods (edamame, natto, yakisoba, saba, etc) as well as some pantry items like rice, dashi (soup stock) and tofu.
Do you shop/eat anywhere else specifically for Japanese products and food? Let me know and I’ll add it to the list!