Ahhhh....grocery shopping. One of the necessities of life. For a foreigner shopping in Japan, every trip is an adventure, and, until you can read some Japanese, a bit of a nightmare. For example, 2 cartons have pictures of cows on them. However, one might be milk, and the other could be yogurt culture. Or, let's consider two packs of red meat -one could be beef, the other could be horse (a Kumamoto delicacy). Furthermore, are you buying the SALT flavoured tooth paste or the mint?
Shopping is also a challenge because the stores do not carry the ingredients you are used to cooking with. There are entire aisles of soy sauce, miso paste and seaweed, but I'll be darned if you can find a block of cheese or a bagel. The veggie section is quite limited and carries things you have never seen, let alone cooked. And the fruit prices range from about $1.50 to $35.00 per fruit item!
In addition, it is always entertaining for the other shoppers when you show up. They like to peer in your basket to see what a foreigner might eat and children run through the aisles chanting "gaijin! gaijin!" ("foreigner! foreigner!")
A Japanese grocery store is actually quite similar to a Canadian grocery store except for these small differences.
That's about it. I hope you don't think I'm too negative about the grocery stores here. They're really quite clean and the staff are friendly and helpful, it just the same thing over and over again. Once in university when I was on a strict Chef Boyardee and pizza diet, my housemate Shawn informed me that variety is the spice of life... hmmm.. chef boyardee.
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This site was last updated 04/27/04