I’ve seen a lot of people ask questions about the cost of groceries in Japan, and I can’t give you a specific answer since it really depends on your food preferences, dietary restrictions, etc.
However, I can give you a good idea of how much groceries can cost, what you can and can’t get, and a few tips.
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To begin, try to find a Deo because it’s the cheapest grocery store I’ve ever seen! It’s a mega discount chain, and no worries about your work schedule since it’s open 24/7. 😀
The only thing that I don’t really like about Deo is that they only accept cash…no electronic cash cards or credit cards.
Otherwise, I love this store! They have a huge variety of everything – produce, seafood, household items, frozen food, you name it. Since it’s a discount store, they don’t have a lot of foreign/imported food…see my post about imported groceries. 😀
If there isn’t a Deo close enough to your place, the next place I would recommend is going to Marunaka, Ito-Yokado, or an AEON grocery store. AEON malls are huge, and they always have their AEON anchor store, Jusco, which includes a great grocery store that isn’t too expensive.
The more expensive grocery stores include Happy’s, Hallow’s, and Co-op, which is pronounced coh poo with a long, extended oh.
Regardless of which grocery store you choose, your rice will be the (overall) cheapest thing. In the photo below, you can get a 10kg bag for ¥2,580 or ¥2,480, or a 6kg bag for ¥1,280.
Jusco has far more rice than this, but this picture just to give you an idea of comparing prices between two stores for rice. One 5kg bag of rice on the right is ¥1,364, which comes up to ¥1,473 with tax. The bags on the left are a big more expensive at ¥1,580 (plus tax) for 5kg. Rice is always good, and if you’re worried about not getting through a whole bag in time, just put it in the fridge. 😀
With rice being the cheapest overall grocery, local produce is without question, the most expensive thing regardless of where you buy it, but if you really want to indulge, they’re cheaper at Deo.
For example, my prefecture (Okayama) is famous for its peaches. A pack of locally grown peaches is ¥2,980 at Deo. ↓
If you’re at Okayama Station toward the end of summer, you might come across people selling locally grown peaches for these insane prices: 5 yellow/gold peaches for ¥5,000 on the left, 5 white peaches for ¥6,000 in the middle, or 5 white peaches grown in Okayama (city perhaps) for ¥6,500. ↓
If you want, you can get two for ¥2,000 or three for ¥2,700, or you can get mega green grapes, also known as muscat, which is Okayama prefecture’s other signature fruit.
Believe it or not, I’ve seen more expensive green grapes before. The most expensive batch of grapes I’ve seen was during my first year in Japan at Co-op for a box the same size as the white one in the picture, which cost ¥8,500.
I shouldn’t have been surprised when I saw this locally grown Hokkaido asparagus for ¥1,800 at the airport in Sapporo. ↓
The melons grown in Furano (Hokkaido) took the cake – 1 for ¥2,000, 2 for ¥3,900, or 5 for ¥9,500. ↓
Don’t despair. You can get reasonably priced produce at your local grocery store. I don’t understand why locally grown produce is so insanely expensive, but anyway, you can get half a cabbage for ¥148, and bananas for ¥24 per 100g.
As you can see in the photo above, bananas come in packs. I don’t like that you can only buy bananas this way rather than just taking the ones you want and have them weighed and priced at the register like in Canada. There’s no such thing as that at the register in Japan, so if anything is priced by weight, then it’s prepacked for you with a price. Otherwise, try to find the biggest one to get the best value.
Another thing that I don’t like about grocery shopping in Japan is buying bread. I’ve never seen an actual loaf of bread, nor have I seen normal-sized bread slices. The bread slices are so thick, and there are five or six slices in a bag. The best price I’ve seen is in the photo below at ¥73 for a bag of six slices at Deo and at Jusco.
One thing that I do like about grocery shopping in Japan is that fish is so much cheaper than I’m used to seeing back in Ontario! 😀 The salmon in the picture below is sashimi salmon, but of course, you can still broil it like normal. I always get this kind since I don’t have to worry about bones. 😀
Ramen is also cheaper since it’s made in Japan. 😀 You can get a box of twenty at Deo for ¥498 plus tax. Regular spaghetti isn’t too bad; the best deal for spaghetti that I’ve seen is a thousand-gram bag for ¥179 plus tax. If you want noodles like bow ties, shells, or fettuccine, or if you want better quality pasta, you’ll have to pay more at an imported food store…get more details about imported groceries in Japan here. 😀
I hope that this latest post about the cost of living in Japan – domestic groceries – gave you a good idea of what to expect when it comes to grocery shopping at a Japanese supermarket.
If you have any specific questions, don’t be shy! 😀