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Will I be able to Eat? Shopping at a Japanese Supermarket

Let's cook!

To get you started on your cooking adventures, here are some simple Japanese dishes that are easy to make by yourself or with friends:

  • Okonomiyaki (A kind of large pancake made from flour and water, and packed with sliced cabbage and whatever meats and seafood or other ingredients—even potato and cheese!—that you might like)
  • Japanese curry (Made from roux, Japanese curry is less spicy and thinner than its Indian counterpart. Add carrots, onions, potatoes, and meat to your liking.)
  • Cream stew (Similar to curry, made from a block of roux. Add milk, and vegetables to your liking.)
  • Nabe (Japanese hot-pot—pretty much anything goes here!)

Be prepared to compromise sometimes

One of the biggest hurdles for strict vegetarians can be finding foods without fish, or seafood products in them. Many broths in Japan are made from meat or fish stock, so you may have to be a little flexible when you visit peoples’ homes. However, tasty broth can also be made from mushrooms, or from konbu, a kind of seaweed.

If you should get a hankering for some product from home, premium import grocery stores also exist in the city, such as Kaldi Coffee Farm—just be prepared to pay a premium for that Skippy peanut butter.

Going Eco

Japanese checkout cashiers will not bag your items for you. They will transfer them into a new basket as they ring them up, but when it comes to putting them into your shopping bag to carry home, you’re on your own. In an effort to reduce plastic consumption, most supermarkets will also charge you for a plastic shopping bag. To avoid this fee—and be good to the planet!—try purchasing some kind of reusable fabric (or other) shopping bag for your groceries.

Remember to be adventurous! Even if you feel sure you won’t like something, try to give it a go at least once. Happy shopping!