I was warned ahead of time that eating in Japan would be expensive – especially the fruits. So I thought this applied to eating out and less fruits. Little did I know that they meant eating in general, including grocery shopping.
We’ll start with the fruits. A single apple can cost 150 yen (~$1.50) and up. In America, an apple is typically no more than a dollar. Of course, these apples in Japan are large, beautiful, and crazy sweet but really, I just want an apple that doesn’t cost more than a soda. Health over cheap junk, right? Not so easy here.
Then there’s the meat aisle. It’s a little amazing honestly. All the meats – pork, beef, fish are sliced appropriately, boneless, and neatly packaged on clean styrofoam trays. But – yes, you guessed it – it’s expensive. And if you’re a fan of the rich flavor in soup that bones give, you might have a hard time finding any in your typical supermarket. Vegetables are also packaged appropriately, but unlike in America, they tend to sell the cabbages in halves or fourths. So while the prices look similar, the portions sold differ a bit more.
Their sliced bread is wonderfully soft though. It’s fantastic for making egg and mayo sandwiches. Cereal is also only sold in small portions, but I suppose I can live with that.
So far as I have seen, there is always a cashier at a register. Where I’m from, they have 10 registers and maybe 3 cashiers. At the cash register, they mark up your items while transferring the items from your basket to another basket which you bring to a stand designated for shoppers to sort their items from basket to bag. Plastic bags cost me 6 yen and with a store card, I get 10% off my purchases (excluding alcohol).
The grocery markets are very efficient, clerks and cashiers always give A+ service, and vegetables, meats, dairy, etc. are always fresh and perfectly packaged. Often towards the last hours of the market, the bentos are marked down with further discounts to ensure it’s all sold by the end of the day.
It’s more expensive than I initially planned for in my budget, and because everything is in Japanese, it took me about an hour trying to navigate the market, but the environment is friendly, the food is fresh, and hey, I’m improving my Japanese.