Japan vs. America: Grocery Stores

I’ve been wanting to do a post about Japanese grocery stores for awhile, so…this is the week for it! Of course, many aspects of Japanese grocery stores are the same as American stores, but there are lots of differences, and it makes every grocery shopping excursion an adventure! Please excuse the quality of the pictures, as I took them with my phone on the sly so I wouldn’t look like the weird photo-taking tourist. 🙂

First up: the cereal aisle! The cereal selection here is MUCH smaller than in the U.S. The entire length of the cereal aisle spans maybe three or four feet. When I think of the HUGE selection of cereals at home, it makes me want to laugh. Or cry. However, I do like the kinds of cereals here. Most of the varieties are what you see pictured here: a mixture of puffed cereal, crunchy bits, flakes, and/or dried fruit (sort of similar to granola or Honey Bunches of Oats). They also have…

CORN FLAKES!!! Kellogg’s, no less. And yes, they do carry Pringles!

Next, let’s visit the fresh foods section. As expected, there are lots of different kinds of seafood. There is also chicken, beef, and other types of meat. But there’s way more fish than I’m used to. For example, whole fish with eyeballs:

You can also get your choice of octopus/squid delicacies:

There are lots of trays of sushi to choose from. One thing that I find interesting is that the sushi and other prepared foods are left out at room temperature or only slightly chilled. For example, there are many precooked lunch plates and entrees that are just displayed on tables with no refrigeration, left to hang out at room temperature. And eggs. No refrigerated eggs. It made me a little nervous at first, but I haven’t gotten sick yet. (I do try to be careful of what I buy, however.) It’s just so weird after coming from America’s “refrigerate everything” mentality!

Luckily for me, there is pizza in Japan! Unluckily for me, it usually tastes a little different. Often the crusts are thinner, the sauce tastes a little sweeter, and there are sometimes weird toppings (although usually there are options with pepperoni). This one has corn (a popular pizza topping here) and something else that I can’t identify.  Sometimes I’ve even seen a little dab of potato salad in the middle!

Did we cover desserts yet? Ah yes, here they are! Pastry-type desserts are actually pretty popular here – cream puffs, cream-filled rolls, etc. There are always cakes, although they are usually light and spongy, with mousse-like frosting. Pudding cups are also popular. I didn’t take a picture of the bread aisle, but there are a surprising number of sweet pastries and rolls. The bread selection is quite limited, though. The packages are mostly one size, with four, six, eight, or ten slices, depending on the thickness. (You’re still getting the same amount of bread, but the fewer the slices, the thicker they are!) No heels, though – the slices are all uniform and ready to eat. And yes, you can get wheat bread – if you want to get a tiny bag that only contains three slices!

OK, produce time! The nice thing about summer is that there’s a bunch of local produce offered at very reasonable prices. You can see some of it in the background of this picture. In the foreground is what I THINK is a warmer for packages of roasted sweet potatoes, which are quite popular here. The veggie and fruit selection is similar to the U.S., but usually smaller, especially for the fruits. Ah, I miss the inexpensive fruit from the States!

A lot of the fruit is packaged neatly and/or decoratively. These melons have pretty ribbons, and might make a nice gift…

…for only 1,800 yen ($16) each!

OK, last stop: the wrapping station. You bag your own groceries here; after you pay the cashier, you tote your basket to the wrapping table, where you can find extra plastic baggies, a wet cloth to dampen your fingers with (so you can open your plastic bags), and other miscellaneous things you might need! Apparently I only got the middle of the table in my photo, since I snapped it in a hurry. 🙂

Well, I think that about does it for the grocery store tour. If you’re ever in the area, come visit and I’ll show you one in person!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *