Japanese grocery shopping 101


It only took practicing the pronunciation a million times before I left home this morning – and the pantomime probably didn’t hurt anything – but I managed to ask for a bag at the food stalls at Matsuzakaya this morning.  When you do not speak the local language,  it all comes down to the simple victories.  I had my “baggu” and the most random assortment of goods to put in it too.

There are not really any Western – style grocery stores in Tokyo proper.  Instead you’ll find lots of convenience stores and then these fabulous food stall markets in the basement of larger department stores.   Matsuzakaya is about 4 blocks from my apartment so I set out on an adventure.  No, the photo below isn’t from a college student room raid; it is the result of my efforts.


The food stalls would remind you of a European market.  Each little area is for something in particular: meat, seafood, cheese, veggies, etc.  Some of the prices make you feel as though the food should have been imported from there as well.  Those lovely cubes of cheddar?  Just a smidgen shy of $5 (¥594).  Now, some things like that salt were less expensive than I could get back home – $0.60 (¥73).

They had beautiful fruit but you will pay for it.  A bunch of the largest grapes I  have ever seen would run you almost $10.  I’ll  get some pictures of them and the market as a whole next time I go.  The meat also looked amazing, but I had a moment of panic and didn’t feel like I could fumble through trying to order chicken breast.  That is going to take far more practice than asking for a bag.  The above (minus the crisps I got at a convenience store afterwards) came to about $15.  There are no food supplies at the apartment and without a stove, well, having to get a bit creative and sort of start from scratch.  Worst case I will drink that apple juice for 3 meals a day.  It is seriously amazing stuff.  If you have an Asian market where you live, go get some.

Now, to figure out how to make this rice…or eat crisps for lunch.


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