Friday, May 6, 2011

Grocery Shopping in Japan

I was going through my posts and I found this one that I never posted. I wrote most of this back in October, though I edited it a little bit. It seems a bit weird to post this now, but I might as well because I put work into writing it. Anyways... here it is:

I did a post about how awesome 100 yen stores are, but not everything in Japan is that cheap. Groceries are expensive, especially out in the country. Another thing is that the packaging of things is very small. I think the only thing I see sold in bigger packages here than in America is soy sauce. Sometimes the prices don't seem so bad, but then I go through my groceries so quickly!

Now I'll put a picture of what I bought at the grocery and list how much everything cost. If you're in the US, you can easily convert the values by putting in a decimal point. So something that is 150 yen is roughly $1.50. Though actually it's not exactly 100 yen per dollar, so 150 yen would actually be a little more than $1.50.

  • bread: 168
  • grapes: 298
  • onigiri set: 350
  • string cheese: 198
  • milk: 148
  • ice cream: 126
  • banana chocolate candy: 118
TOTAL: 1406

Bread is very interesting in Japan. It is sold without the end pieces! That's good for me because I often didn't eat the end pieces and they just went to waste. But I wonder what's happening to them at the factories... or maybe they have a special way of baking that doesn't create end pieces... hmmm. Also, there are only 8 pieces of bread in that package. Many loaves of bread actually have fewer slices because the bread is often thicker. Sometimes I can't even find this thin kind (normal thickness in the US) at my grocery store.

The grapes are really good. :) I prefer the smaller grapes, but that kind is more expensive in the US. Here, it's the opposite. The grocery store also sells the big grapes like in the US and it's about 700 or 800 yen for one bunch!

The onigiri set had two onigiri (rice balls with seasoning wrapped in seaweed), a piece of fried chicken, a sausage, and a hard boiled egg.

The package of string cheese only had two pieces inside. It wasn't even very good. It was kinda rubbery so I was disappointed.

Ice cream is expensive here. :( It's such a tiny cup! I can't buy a whole quart of ice cream here like I could in the US. Maybe it's better for my health though...

  • Tabasco sauce: 298
  • parmesan cheese: 388
  • bread: 194
  • rice: 205
  • pineapple: 298
  • mango apple juice: 228
  • milk: 123
  • bananas: 99
TOTAL: 1833

Parmesan cheese is expensive! See how small that container is? It only lasts me for about 4 meals, sometimes only 3. Haha, I use a lot at once though because I don't really like the spaghetti sauce sold at the grocery here and usually just eat pasta with parmesan and green tabasco sauce.

I often buy already made rice because I don't have a rice cooker and I have failed too many times at trying to make rice on the stove.

The pineapple is expensive, but it's always really really good. All the fruit is expensive but I should still eat fruit so I just go ahead and pay the crazy prices.

Mango apple juice.................. :) :) :) :) :) :)

I finally found low fat milk! Who knows if I'll be able to find it again though since the grocery here is always changing its stock. I liked it better than the other milk here. I put it on cereal, but I still wouldn't want to drink it plain. The milk here tastes weird. There's like a chemical aftertaste or something. Another strange thing is that it doesn't go sour. Usually when I buy milk here it is either for making pancakes or macaroni and cheese. So a carton of milk got left in my fridge for a couple weeks after the expiration date. Once I realized it was still in the fridge, I dreaded dumping it out, figuring it would smell really bad. It smelled bad, but it always does. It didn't smell any worse. That was weird. But it was chunky. Gross.

Bananas are the only cheap fruit here. Even apples are crazy expensive. Single apples can be as high as 400 yen a piece!

  • bread: 231
  • onion soup: 168
  • corn: 199 (On sale! Yay!)
  • eggs: 158
  • mango yogurt: 168
  • blueberry jam: 198
  • kasugai peas and you: 148
  • pineapple: 298
  • chestnut chocolate: 118
TOTAL: 1686

There's the thick bread I was talking about earlier.

The onion consomme soup was good! Though it's pretty much just a broth so it's just good as a side dish. It's like to add pasta and vegetables to it.

I'm always amused by the small spoons they give me at the grocery store when I buy yogurt or ice cream.

Haha, I think I've posted the Kasugai Peas and You before, but the name cracks me up every time.

  • curry seasoning: 185
  • bread: 194
  • chicken consomme soup: 168
  • honey roasted peanuts: 378
  • vanilla ice cream: 126
  • red and green apple juice: 148
  • candy: 210
  • yakisoba: 325
  • butter: 236
  • cheese slices: 198
TOTAL: 2168

I was excited to find these honey roasted peanuts at my local grocery because they don't always have them. 

I love the green and red apple juice because it's a little tarter than regular apple juice.

The yakisoba is because I was lazy that day. :)

The sliced cheese is of course not very good, though sliced cheese like that in America isn't very good either. It's good enough for grilled cheese though. :)

The little mushroom candy/cookie things are delicious!!!

I used to always love grocery shopping, but I don't like it as much in Japan. Well, that's not quite true. I really love it when I'm not looking for anything in particular. Flavors and what the store has in stock are always changing. I always find something interesting! However, it's very frustrating when I'm looking for something in particular. I never know whether or not I'll be able to find a certain item such as thinly sliced bread, low-fat milk, etc. A couple times (even before the bread shortages after the earthquake) my grocery store didn't have sliced bread at all.

This next picture was not part of the original post, but I'm going to put it as an example of what I could buy at a konbini. Though this particular purchase is much larger than usual. Lol, I kinda stocked up on junk food. And no... I didn't eat this all at once!

ice cream daifuku
cheese fondue and bread cup soup
melon fanta
chocolate milk
pudding pocky stick
peach Hi-chew


  1. Great post! I wish US stores would sell bread in smaller loaves; I'm just one person and can't go through a full-sized loaf before it gets stale and/or moldy. Though I would rather not pay Japanese prices; I pay about what you paid!

    Some of the items are actually semi-reasonably priced! Fresh pineapple in Arizona often costs in the ballpark of what you paid...I guess it might be kind of like the banana thing? And I'm soooooooo jealous of your cheap Japanese candy, LOL.

    From Google it looks like they maybe "sterilize" milk instead of pasteurizing it. And/or, they mix fresh milk with reconstituted dried milk (!!!) for the milk you buy on the shelves. So that might explain why it was so gross. :/

    1. The milk here is pasteurized, it is just that the cows are fed different grains so the milk has a smell to it in general. I get a liter for about 100 yen. 10 eggs about the same.

  2. Hello,
    I found your blog a couple weeks ago and have read through it. It's most interesting :) I'm interested in spending a year in Japan and was wondering if I could ask you some questions about your experience?
    Mainly which organisation did you use and how did you find them/any feedback? And do you have any tips/feedback/advice for someone thinking about the same thing? Thanks heaps. You can contact me on artemisfowl2 @ hotmail dot com if that's easier :)

  3. Hi,

    You need to look for a food store chain called ave. It is written in red letters. It is a chain and they are huge. Great prices. They usually have about 15 registers or so, so that tells you how big it is. You can search on line but you probably need to do it in Japanese. ave スパ

    Also Gyome Super. Their signs are in green and white. It is a huge chain too but great discounts.

  4. Great post, 2014 i am on my way to japan for school. and have been researching everything from housing, utility costs and grocery cost. i am sure prices will change and very, still helpful. 5/5 keep the blog updated.

  5. Enjoyed this post! I'm going to Kyoto soon and want to stock up on a candy gummy: Kasugai Muscat (green grape flavor). They are light green, heart shaped gummies and are individually wrapped. They are so delicious and addicting. I love them, but they are so expensive here. If I can find some kind of candy shop or perhaps better, a larger supermarket, can you predict about how much they would cost there? It would be great if I knew ahead of time how much space to leave in the suitcase...

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