Buying groceries in Japan can be quite the experience. Here are five quick tips to help you to take it all in while saving a few yen at the supermarket.
For those with limited Japanese-language ability: you can buy, try and test, and if you don’t like it, you don’t buy it again—as simple as that! But if you’re not feeling that adventurous, here’s a handy guide that will help you with the grocery basics.
1. Check out the reduced section in supermarkets
The best part of any supermarket: the end-of-day reduced section. And in Japan, it’s glorious. Little bits of maki, okonoymiyaki, tofu rice balls and much more are all slashed in price. This is the perfect way to buy good-quality Japanese food on a budget. If you’re going to eat like this often, we recommend going shopping once a day, rather than a big weekly shop. Keep it fresh, people!
2. Adopt a Japanese cuisine
Isn’t that why you’re in Japan? The point of traveling is to expand your pespective as well as your palate. If you do need the occasional home comfort, check out these import shops, but be preapred to pay a lot more than you would back home. To keep your costs low, go for the local, seasonal food and enjoy what you won’t find back home.
3. Buy quality soy sauce
This post is all about buying groceries in Japan and saving money, but don’t forget about quality. Splurge a little bit extra on that high-quality, slightly more expensive soy sauce and it can elevate any low-budget meal. Look for Kikkoman and Wadakan, which are solid soy sauce brands.
4. Buy produce from small stalls along side streets
From a sustainability standpoint, we recommend buying from small, independent grocers—typically tucked away in tiny side streets—rather than big supermarkets that wrap everything in sheets and sheets of plastic. Bonus: prices are usually lower at these spots, too.
5. Shop at affordable supermarkets in Tokyo
With a great variety of affordable supermarkets (some with online shopping/home delivery options), you’re well on your way to a fully stocked fridge and freezer.
OK is one of the cheapest supermarket chains in Japan. There are various stores located all over Tokyo (and beyond), so find your nearest one and be pleasantly surprised by the low prices. Its slogan of ‘everyday low price’ stands strong here.
Hanamasa is another supermarket that is seriously cheap. The idea here is to buy in bulk. This chain actually provides food for the catering industry too. But hey, if you live near a Hanamasa store and can carry a huge bunch of food back home with you, what’s stopping you? Plus, some of the shops listed here offer home delivery. It’s a top choice for meat purchases as they offer a wide variety of types/cuts, and you can buy in bulk and freeze it.
Ozeki is a mid-sized supermarket in the capital. Cheap prices abound here, but particularly with its fresh groceries and choices of bento. There’s a wide selection of produce here, too.
Gyomu Supaa is said to be the cheapest supermarket in Japan, so it gains big points already. The website also easily translates into English. With over 680 stores in Japan, this place is winning. You can also find halal products here as well.