Rory’s Veggie Views(Vol.6)Foodie Fails and Supermarket Scares

Foodie Fails and Supermarket Scares

When I first arrived in Japan a year ago; I did not speak much Japanese; read any Kanji, Katakana or Hirigana; or have any clue as to what Japanese supermarkets were going to be like. So, it was with some trepidation that I took my first visits into my local Ozeki or Maruetsu. However, after a few visits you notice that in fact the supermarket is organised in a familiar way and it even mirrors much of Japanese everyday life.

It is sparkling clean, there is proud and friendly service and it is very well organised. I began to note some further themes. ‘Non-Japanese’ goods are noticeably more expensive. If you are here on a budget then eat more traditional foods. Some more specific items are only in specific ‘Western stores’, such a vegetarian stock cubes or red lentils. Food is seasonal. Prices rise and fall depending on this, especially fruit. Quantities of foods such as cereal or bread are minuscule (when compared to ‘Western supermarkets’)!

Specific vegan or ‘Western’ supermarkets are available, but the prices are generally much higher. The cost of food in ‘Japanese’ stores, conversely, is fairly affordable. If you live sensibly, then the myths are untrue and Japan is actually an affordable place to live in. Therefore, initially what I found was that I could confidently buy a series of ingredients for simple dishes, such as: stir fry, pasta, rice dishes, curries, egg-based dishes, soups, stews, homemade onigiri, homemade sushi or salads. This was easy to organise and I could then begin to experiment with foods that were less familar to me.

As the confidence grows, I would give some more advice. Learning Hirigana and Katakana helps, and surprisingly is a fairly quick task. Using a site such as Surviving in Japan ( for a wealth of Kanji phrases is also so useful. As you settle into life in Japan, you find that your tastes change and adapt to the goods available. Cheese and butter become less important. Raw food becomes crucial and a regular meal option. ‘Heavy-Western’ style dishes become a treat for the return home on holiday. Admittedly, this is certainly more difficult for some, especially children, but you eventually find your way and expand beyond those initial simple meals.

If all this fails, it is surprisingly cheap to eat out in Japan! And it is delicious!



日本のスーパーは素晴らしく清潔です。仕事にプライドを持っている店員さんのサービスはフレンドリーだし、店内もわかりやすい作りです。ただ、今後の課題もあるんじゃないかと思います。それは、いわゆるNon Japanese、外国製のものが目立って高いということ。限られた予算内で日本の生活を送るのであれば、日本伝来のものを食べるべきです。 ベジタリアン用のスープストックキューブや赤レンズ豆のような特殊な食材は、日本には少ない欧米式のお店にしか置いてありません。 日本の食材には旬があり、特に果物はシーズンによって値段が上下します。シリアルとパンの品数はとても少ないです(欧米のスーパーに比べれば、ですが)。


自信が出てきたところで、僕から少しアドバイスを。平仮名とカタカナを覚えるのは、実はそれほど時間がかからず、でもマスターすれば便利ですよ。漢字のフレーズや表現が豊富に載っているSurviving in Japan ( のようなサイトも役に立ちます。日本の生活が落ち着いてくると味覚も変わってきて、日本で手に入るものに舌が慣れてくると思います。チーズやバターはそれほどこだわらなくなり、手に入る材料でどう食べるかが重要になり、それが自分の定番料理であるかどうかという事はそれほど重要ではなくなります。ヘビーな欧米料理は、休暇で家に帰った時だけのご馳走になります。こういう変化が受け入れづらい人がいることは確かだし、特に子どもにとっては大変でしょう。でも、このようなシンプルな料理を通して、だんだん食の世界が広がっていくと思います。



Rory’s Veggie Views (Vol.5) Is it difficult to shop successfully in Japanese supermarkets?

Is it difficult to shop successfully in Japanese supermarkets?

To the uninitiated, the task of collecting basic food supplies in Japan is a perilous one. Especially if you are: a vegetarian or vegan; are shopping for a family of hungry stomachs but who have differing tastes; do not speak Japanese or recognise any written language; or have food allergies. Perilous? I’d say it is downright terrifying.
Do not fear though! Here are some of the basics of supermarkets in Japan:
  • Most supermarkets open at around 10am and close at around 11pm.
  • Some of the larger stores are open 24 hours.
  • Many shops accept credit cards, though I prefer to use cash as do many people in Japanese society overall.
  • There are a range of different supermarkets, such as those listed on Kana Net (
  • Each shop differs slightly in its content, e.g. the ‘Peacock’ supermarket is more Western in style and the products on offer reflect this. ‘Ozeki’ is more Japanese in style and content.
  • Only the larger stores go beyond food and sell items such as clothing, electronics and toiletries.
  • The shops are generally laid out in a similar way to Western ones and goods are organised in ways that seem familiar.
  • Procedure for paying is to: put your basket down next to the till, wait as the assistant scans everything and puts it back into your basket, answer if you want bags or that you do not have a points card for THE HUNDREDTH TIME and then pack your own bags. Charming.I thoroughly recommend consulting these sites to be prepared for supermarket success…



Kana netに載っているように、色んな種類のスーパーがありますが、それぞれ少しずつ特色が違うんです。たとえば、欧米スタイルの「Peacock」は品揃えもそれに応じているし、「Ozeki」は外見も内容も日本っぽい…というように。
Gaijin Pot
Is it vegan?