When I first got to Japan I was pretty excited to go grocery shopping. I’m not very good at cooking, but I do enjoy doing it. A natural consequence of cooking is taking a trip to the supermarket. Another unsurprisingly expensive part of living in Japan is grocery shopping. Even though a CostCo recently opened in Hirakata, it’s still a bus ride away and some people just wouldn’t have the room in their houses to store things that they’ve bought in bulk. Anyway, enough of the small-talk. Let me take you grocery shopping…
This store – Moritaya’s – is a 4 minute walk from my house. When you go shopping in this kind of supermarket you’re limited to a basket, you can get a trolley frame for it but there is nothing bigger to hold your items in. So over here I’m supposing that shopping is meant to be something you do every couple of days rather than every 2 weeks like I used to. The size of the fridge I’m sharing with my roommate supports this hypothesis.
- 1L Milk x 2
- 340g of Beef Mince x 1
- Loaf of Bread x 1
- Cheese Slices(8 Pack) x 1
- Bacon Packets(4 slices in each) x 3
- Carton of Eggs(12) X 1
- Margarine Tub x 1
- Canned Tuna x 2
- Packet of Disposable Shavers(2) x 1
- Bag of Mandarins(8) x 1
And the grand total was 2810￥, equivalent to around $32.25 at today’s spot exchange rate. I won’t talk too much about the price, obviously it’s more expensive than back home because I’m buying products to satisfy my foreign palate. As far as I know items like bread, cheese, margarine and bacon do not make frequent appearances in a typical Japanese diet. I have only cooked a meal with rice once so far.
Let’s get down to business. I want to make some observations about what I bought, starting off with bread. Japanese supermarket bread usually comes packaged in increments of 2, 4 and 6 slices. Yes, apart from some premium bread I saw in Osaka the most slices I have seen in an affordable loaf of bread is 6. The bread is ridiculously thick, it’s around two or two and a half times the size of the sliced bread I’m accustomed to. I have actually been cutting the bread in half lately, creating twice slices from one to make sandwiches with. What’s that? “How do you fit it in a toaster?” Well, that’s the magical thing. The toasters here are actually built to withstand this monster bread, you can easily find a toaster in an electronics store to burn your gargantuan bread with. Before I move on I’d just like to know, where does all the crust from Japanese bread go? None of the bread that I’ve purchased yet has had any crust, I’m hoping it’s being used for something better than keeping my stomach full.
Next is milk. There isn’t a lot to say about it. It’s milk. There’s low-fat and 100% milk, just like in any other country on the planet. My concern is that it only comes in quantities of up to 1L. I just bought a kilogram of protein power a week ago, so I’m going through milk like it’s nobodies business lately. I don’t really even care that it’s more expensive over here, I just wish that I could buy it in 2L quantities so I don’t have to have 4 separate containers in the fridge if I want 4L of milk. Japan truly is the king of portion control, no wonder I hardly ever see obese people around town.
What do I have to say about the bacon? Well it tastes great, but each slice is barely as long as my index finger and I need the whole packet(and 2 halves of a monster bread slice) to make a decent BLT. I wonder why they don’t just package the bacon in one big sheet of plastic? It’d make my life easier and I wouldn’t go through 3 sheets of plastic to make lunch. This isn’t just a bacon issue, it’s an issue with a lot of products in Japan. Cookies, are a great example. Japan is very, very serious about recycling – but I won’t touch the issue today. So why is it that when I buy biscuits each biscuit is individually packaged in plastic? Help me, I don’t think I will ever understand this meticulous procedure.
So, that’s it for shopping for now. I’m glad I got all of that off my chest. I think I should start cooking with rice next week if I want to avoid bankruptcy. On another note, I was kind of surprised to find Milo in the supermarket at a reasonable price(Nutella is a totally different story). I’ve heard that it’s not quite as good as the Milo from overseas but I think next time I go shopping I’ll try it out.