Katie Vaughan

Katie Vaughan is a writer and marketing coordinator living in Portland. Read More

The Portland-Japan Connection

Portland’s artisan food and products are prized in Japan, and the Rose City is getting its own share of Japanese exports.

3 min read

Katie Vaughan

Katie Vaughan is a writer and marketing coordinator living in Portland. Read More

Many of the best Portland goods and restaurants are popping up in a surprising place: almost 5,000 miles (8,047 km) away in Japan. Luckily, it’s a mutual exchange that allows people in Portland to sample Japanese offering without the cost of an international plane ticket. From slurping some of Tokyo’s best ramen in Portland to sipping Stumptown Coffee in Tokyo, visitors can get a taste of Japan in the Rose City and vice versa.

Where to Find Japan in Portland

Shopping

The majority of retailers with admirers in both Portland and Japan are producers of delicious food or outdoor gear. When it comes to the latter, Portland boasts an outpost of a storied outdoor lifestyle brand founded by Japanese mountaineers, Snow Peak. In addition to durable and chic clothing, Snow Peak offers camping and backpacking gear like tents and lightweight cookware.

Japanese Culture in Portland

Japanese American Events

Portland's Japanese American community offers engaging activities all year long.

Portland Japanese Garden

An authentic example of Japanese landscaping, the Portland Japanese Garden is a haven of tranquil beauty with an unsurpassed view of Mount Hood.

Japanese American Culture

Connect with Portland's rich Japanese-American heritage at sites around the city.

Food

Two of Japan’s most popular restaurants opened their first American locations in Portland. Slurp some of the best Japanese ramen noodles available at the two local locations of Marukin Ramen. (The Tonkotsu Shoyu is not to be missed.) Meanwhile, Shigezo Izakaya serves up fresh sushi, ramen, yakitori and more in a Japanese-style pub in downtown.

Shigezo’s two spin-off locations bring Japanese pub fare to another level. On Southeast Division, Yataimura Maru specializes in tapas-style drinking food, from gyoza to sushi to jellyfish ponzu. (Be sure to check out their generous happy hour.) Shigezo’s latest, Kichinto Izakaya, now open on North Russell, continues the pub food fusion with sushi, ramen and a lengthy sake list. In Beaverton, you’ll find authentic noodles and small plates from another Japanese hotspot, Kizuki Ramen and Izakaya. Their long list of ramen options features a diverse selection of chewy noodles and rich broths, making them a favorite among locals and critics. Afuri, another storied Tokyo ramen shop, opened a Portland location in late 2016.

Dining Japan Style

Portland Ramen Restaurants

The Portland ramen scene has exploded in recent years, spurred by the arrival of two authentic eateries straight from Tokyo.

Eight Great Sushi Spots Around Portland

Portland is only an hour away from the Pacific Ocean, so it should come as no surprise that the city’s sushi options are both delicious and expansive.

Ota Tofu: America’s Oldest Tofu House Calls Portland Home

This local family-run shop has been making tofu by hand for over a century.

Coming Soon

And there is more Japan on the way: Toyoko Inn will bring an economic Japanese-style hotel — the company’s first on the West Coast — to downtown Portland in 2018. For a piece of Japanese design, downtown restaurant Shizuku received a design overhaul courtesy of legendary Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, who designed the 2015–17 expansion of the Portland Japanese Garden and will design a stadium for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Where to Find Portland in Japan

Shopping

On the other side of the Pacific, Portland is sharing outdoor gear, food and much more with Japan. Columbia Sportswear has a store in Tokyo’s hip Harajuku neighborhood and Pendleton Woolen Mills has been popular in Japan for decades. Japan loves local shoe brands Keen and Danner, along with hand-made leather goods crafters Tanner Goods and Walnut Studiolo.

You’ll find artisan goods like naturally scented soaps by Maak Lab in stores from Osaka to Niigata. Minimalist Portland magazine-turned-lifestyle, Kinfolk, offers a Japan edition of their magazine as well as a Japanese line of their apparel company, Ouur. Stores all over Japan carry bike parts and accessories from local bike gear maker Portland Design Works.

Portland Brands Loved by Japan

Luxe Local Leather

Portland artisans are using high-quality, beautifully tanned and sustainably dyed leather for their goods, crafting pieces that will last for decades.

Outdoor Clothing and Gear

The great outdoors isn't just a way of life for Portlanders, it's also big business for local outfitters whose gear will keep you dry and warm in the Northwest and beyond.

Dress Like a Portlander

To dress like a Portlander, be prepared to cycle to work, dodge raindrops and hoof it to a gallery opening in one versatile ensemble.

Food

Portland is, of course, a foodie town, and we are sharing some of our best local bites with Tokyo. Blue Star Donuts opened its first Japanese location last year, serving up matcha and blueberry doughnuts to fans who lined up around the block. Java lovers can find Stumptown brew at Paddler’s Coffee in Tokyo. Portland farm-to-table favorite Navarre offers their European-inspired dishes in the Harajuku district. While you’re in the neighborhood, indulge in a Dutch Baby or 49er Flapjacks at the Original Pancake House, a family-owned stalwart founded in Portland.

Tokyo retailer Krongthip Inc. stocks several products Portlanders will recognize: beverages like Kombucha Wonder Drink, Steven Smith Teamaker tea and drinking vinegar from Pok Pok Som, as well as Portland Bee Balm and Jacobsen Salt and Bee Local Honey.

The most powerful sign of Japan’s affection for all things Portland? That might be PDX Taproom, a craft beer bar featuring a tap list of exclusively Portland brewers, like Hair of the Dog and HUB. They even have a Keep Portland Weird sign and (of course) a piece of PDX airport carpet!

Meals That Have Made It Abroad