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Eating out
Electronics store 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. 

  1. The carts are tiny.  You can only fit one basket in them.  And the basket is the same size as a regular Canadian grocery basket.

  2. Bakery section?  What bakery section?  White bread, and buns with bean paste, mayonnaise, or other delicious things hidden inside.

  3. Milk.  Yep, there's milk, if you like 3.5% milk.  Usually at the larger stores you can find 1% low fat milk, but they only carry about four cartons in stock and when they're gone, they're gone.

  4. Meat.  Well other than being expensive the chicken, beef and pork is fine.  But all hams and lunch meats are processed.  No fresh deli cut ham.

  5. Chicken!  Yah, I love chicken in Japan.  For some reason chicken breasts are the cheapest part of the chicken!  I don't understand it.  Chicken legs are about three times as expensive as breasts and necks and INTESTINES are even twice as expensive.  I'm in chicken heaven.

  6. Fish.  Well, if I liked fish there is an incredible fresh selection.  Salmon from all over the world.  I can choose between Norwegian and Alaskan salmon.  No BC salmon though.  The Alaskans over fish and send it here.  But what I do think is good is that they eat every type of fish here.  They put the net in the water and everything that comes up gets eaten.  I think at home we're too wasteful.  We only eat the choice fish and the rest gets thrown back dead.

  7. Octopus.  Tako and not the Mexican kind is probably one of the most popular eats here.

  8. Pasta.  In Japan pasta is just spaghetti.  Sometimes you can find penne, but pasta is usually just spaghetti.  I don't know why.  Sometimes Hello Kitty shaped pasta too.

  9. Fruits and Veggies.  Aside from being perfect in shape and appearance, and costing much more, fruit is fruit.

  10. Rice.  Plain, white, short-grained rice.  Is there any other?


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.

For the following pictures, click on the arrows to the left and right to see the additional photos.


Eden with a very large Japanese radish.

Many anime characters of curry rice to choose from

Hello Kitty Macaroni

Dharma or Daruma doll, 3 packs of meat for 980 yen.

Individually wrapped corn. 198 yen.

Good deal. 100 yen per fish.

Mmmm... I love the marble texture.

Pretty tasty. Especially takoyaki.

Hmm.. I don't like squid.


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This site was last updated 04/27/04