The North Laine – a mini guide : Part 1: 5 Shops on Sydney Street

This guide is aimed at Japan-lovers and Japanese visitors to Brighton.

First of all, what is the North Laine?

The North Laine is a block of commercial and residential streets preserved since 1977 for its historic importance.

Where is it? The North Laine is between Brighton Pavilion and Brighton Train Station.

What does Laine mean? And, shouldn’t it be lane?

The word Laine is an old word for field – it has no connection whatsoever with the much older area, The Lanes which are located on the seaside of the Pavilion. If you think it is confusing now, remember at one point, the North Laine was one of just 5 Laines in Brighton including a West Laine and an East Laine.

In this post, I will introduce 5 selected shops on Sydney Street one of the North Laine’s most loved and most well-known streets.

KO Bonsai:  Bonsai, the art of growing trees or shrubs in a pot, has been practiced in Japan for over 1,000 years which is almost exactly 1,000 years longer than it’s been in Brighton. When this bonsai store opened in 1990, the owner – former actor Eric Danot, was warned by neighbouring traders he’d go bust within 6 weeks. Almost 30 years, later KO Bonsai is still going strong as one of the North Laine’s most inspiring and well-run independent businesses.

Dave’s Comics: This shop is a North Laine treasure, and not only for employing Brighton Japan Club members and Shimaguni students. You can get plenty of Japanese manga here written in English such as Tokyo Ghoul, Naruto, Full Metal Alchemist, as well as guides to writing your own manga. Reading manga in English might be useful if you or your friends are studying English as well.

Pen to Paper: Stationery store  Second only to heated toilet seats, the thing I miss most about Japan is premium stationery. This lovely little store helps alleviate my suffering.  Pop in to pick up moleskine journals, colourful cards of unique Brighton scenery as well as ukiyoe (woodblock print) decorated stationery.

Flour Pot Bakery: A great place to chomp down on some proper bread, try some tasty cakes and sit down for a nice cup of coffee. I like to take Japanese friends here as I feel it’s as close to English cuisine as we can get. Japan gave the world raw fish sushi: Britain gave it cheese and pickle sandwiches. The Flour Pot Bakery has 6 stores across the city, the first one opened here on Sydney Street in 2014. It’s a popular spot for locals to pick up breakfast and lunch.

Kito Kito: A Japanese/Hawaiian cuisine inspired lunchtime diner run by the owners of the popular Goemon ramen restaurant on Preston Street. The name Kito Kito comes from the Toyama region and means “fresh” I am pleased to say it was named by a Brighton Japan Club member. I personally recommend their Vegetable Curry for a tasty, healthy and reasonably-priced lunch.  

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