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Thais seek to re-create the 'real Japan'

Love affair with Japanese culture intensifies amid thirst for authenticity

Serving up kawaii: Employees at Maidreamin, a maid cafe in Bangkok, show off their cat pose. (Photo by Yukako Ono)

BANGKOK -- When Bangkok's iconic Japanese department store Isetan closed its doors in late August, some observers were puzzled. Thais have a well-known passion for Japan, so why didn't Isetan's business go well?

The answer is simple: Thailand's honeymoon with all things Japanese has moved on to a new stage. From a rustic hot spring ryokan (Japanese-style inn) to sushi omakase (chef's choice) restaurants headed by a Thai chef, Japanese culture in Thailand is becoming more authentic and accessible. The days when Japan could only be consumed in a department store are long gone. Thai consumers seem to know and love Japan more than ever.

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