As the borders slowly reopen, the taste of travel is finally within reach again. What’s at the top of our list when we take off? Japan, of course.

The allure of this whimsical country is more appealing than ever. So much so that Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto topped the top spots on Condé Nast’s annual World’s Best Cities list. With a clever mix of old-school culture and neon-clad nightlife, it’s easy to see why travelers yearn to land in Japan.

If you’re not quite ready to book those plane tickets, we’ve got you covered. With the go-to fuel for Japanese locals, Suntory BOSS Coffee, Japan’s #1 Coffee*, we’ve discovered how to get your fix right here in New Zealand.

Here are five ways to experience Japan in Aotearoa.

Spot local Japanese creations

It goes without saying that Japan is a hub of creativity and innovation, often inspiring global trends and accolades. Luckily for us, Aotearoa is home to many of these creatives. First on the must-have list is artist Jun Arita. Heavily influenced by pop culture and bright colors, Jun’s eye-catching designs are brimming with good vibes and bold lines, creating unmistakable masterpieces.

Or, if you’re looking to boost your playlist, listen to entrepreneur, designer and DJ, Katana. Best known as the founder of Bassment – an underground electronic music community – Katana is also the mastermind behind Vacant Studios, a hub for local collaboration – and that’s not to mention its slick merchandising. Check out Katana’s Instagram to follow her many adventures.

Want more? Why not host some epic events including the Japanese Film Festival and Kintsugi Workshops.

Score a Sweet Dose

The Japanese know how to nail a sweet delight. Must-try flavors cover red bean paste, strawberries, matcha, and sweet potato, so it’s no surprise that their desserts are a hit. For a taste of the sweet life in Auckland, head to Atelier Shu for Asian-inspired pastries, TSUJIRI for pancakes or Uncle Tetsu’s for fluffy cheesecake dreams. Meanwhile, Origami in Wellington serves decadent oriental high tea, while Patisserie YAHAGI in Christchurch is all about fusion pastries. Drool.

Sink your teeth into sushi

Sushi restaurants in New Zealand range from your local favorite to fine dining restaurants offering upscale seafood. One thing is certain: Auckland knows what’s going on when it comes to the best sushi in town. For a low-key vibe and even a shot of ramen, stop by the cozy Moto Sushi Bar in Parnell Village. Meanwhile, &Sushi’s spots around town make for the perfect quick lunch – our go-to is the Inari Tuna. When it comes to eating sushi, decadent restaurants like Azabu, Ebisu, and Masu know how to deliver a good time.

Buy it, Japanese style

While $2 stores might be the thing of Kiwi childhoods, they don’t hold a candle to the Japanese version. In recent years, we have been fortunate to have many options across the country for Japanese markets. Favorites include good old Japan Mart, Daiso Japan and Miniso. This is where you’ll stock up on everything you didn’t know you needed. Whether innovative cleaning products, original accessories, stylish stationery or Japanese sweets, you have a varied assortment to choose from.

In search of street food

Although sushi tops the list of Japanese delicacies, there are many other specialties to discover. We always like to spot the Temaki truck around Auckland, home to the infamous rolled sushi cone, a blend of flavors from Japan, Brazil and Korea. Ichiban in Tauranga scours the markets offering colorful bowls with a Japanese twist – think donburi, poke and more. Further south in Hawkes Bay, you’ll find Piku parked up tossing izakaya-style bites like tempura, tataki, and pork belly. No matter where you are in New Zealand, there’s always a Japanese dish with your name on it.

Calling all culture vultures – experience the true taste of Japan with Suntory BOSS Coffee. Flash brewed for maximum freshness, gather the crew, open a can and catch up on lost travel plans, stat.

Editor’s Note: This article is sponsored by Suntory BOSS Coffee and proudly endorsed by Urban List. To learn more about who we work with and why, read our editorial policy here.

Image credit: Jun Arita via Instagram

*No. 1 canned coffee brand in Japan based on 2020 sales volume. Source: Intage.