INSIDE: The Ultimate Guide to Buying Japanese Food Products in a Japanese Grocery Store. Updated 2019.
Heading to Japan soon?
Visit a Japanese supermarket for an adventure into authenic Japanese food.
We always plan a visit to at least one giant supermarket in every country we visit. I truly believe there’s no better place to get a feel for local life than seeing how and what the everyday locals eat.
In my opinion, the best supermarkets are in Japan but that’s because I could eat Japanese food every single day of my life. I sometimes wonder if I was Japanese in a past life!
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Prepay excess luggage
If you are a serious foodie, pay for an extra 30 kilos of luggage now. You’ll need it if you go grocery shopping in Japan.
That small investment will pay off big time when you see how much cheaper Japanese foodstuffs are in Japanese grocery stores compared to when you buy a bottle of Japanese sauce in a Japanese grocery story at home.
(We buy fresh foods like tofu and fresh miso at home, rather than in a long life package).
- 1 Buy the necessary base ingredients from a Japanese Grocery Store for these dishes
- 2 Japanese Sauces, & Cupboard stores
- 3 Japanese Seasoning
- 4 Japanese Cupboard Stores including flour
- 5 Japanese Rice Dishes
- 6 Japanese Noodles & Curry Pastes
- 7 Japanese Drinks
- 8 Japanese Snacks
- 9 Japanese Candy
- 10 Japanese Chocolate
- 11 Japanese Ceramics & Kitchenware
- 12 Coming soon! A Checklist Printable
- 13 Looking for More Fun Things to Do in Tokyo + Shopping in Tokyo?
- 14 Subscribe
- 15 Bookmark Roam the Gnome
Buy the necessary base ingredients from a Japanese Grocery Store for these dishes
This list of Japanese food products will ensure you have the base ingredients necessary to cook the most popular Japanese home cooked foods, such as:
- Udon, soba and ramen bowls
- Donburi rice bowls
- Onigiri rice balls
- Sushi dishes
- Japanese curry rice
- Miso soup
- Okonomiyaki pancakes
- Japanese hot pots including oden, sukiyaki and shabu shabu
- Okayu savory rice porridge dish for good health
- Gyoza dumplings
- Tonkatsu and Kashikatsu fried dishes
- Tamagoyaki Japanese omelette
Take a look at our shopping list. Write down your favourites to take it with next time you need Japanese groceries.
PS: You can also use this list if you want to shop in your local Japanese grocery store and cook traditional Japanese food at home.
Japanese Sauces, & Cupboard stores
Write these Japanese food suppplies down. (Coming soon – Grocery Shopping in Japan PDF checklist for your handbag.)
All the essential pantry items you need from a Japanese grocery store in Japan.
- Ponzu Sauce – sweet citrus soy sauce (I love this on plain rice)
- Goma dare sesame seed dressing – as seen above, centre (for shabu shabu hot pot and as a salad dressing)
- Tonkatsu sauce (to drizzle over tonkatsu battered fried pork)
- Brown rice miso paste in a sealed jar (soybean paste)
- Okonomiyaki sauce
- Yakisoba sauce
- Yakiniku dare sauce
- Kushikatsu sauce for deep-fried dishes
- Japanese shoyu soy sauce
- Rice vinegar
- Mirin sweet rice wine – used to make teriyaki sauce
- Wafu Japanese salad dressing – I cannot get enough of this stuff!
I’m often asked, where is miso usually kept in a grocery store? In Japan, fresh miso is kept in the fridge so it’s not something you can travel home with but you can buy miso in a glass jar to take home in the grocery aisle.
Add these Japanese seasoning mixes to your list of things to shop for in a Japanese grocery shop for your pantry.
- Japanese Katsu Curry ground spice mix seasoning
- Shichimi Togarashi Japanese Mixed Chilli Pepper
- Furikake Rice Seasoning – made from sesame seeds, dried fish, sugar, salt and seaweed
- Omusubiyama Aona Japanese vegetable flavor seasoning for onigiri and rice dishes
- Wakame seedweed
What is umami?
Interesting titbit: Have you heard of umami?
It’s called the 5th taste in Japan after sweet, sour, salt and bitter. It’s what gives a dish that extra boost of flavor to make it just right!
Japanese broth ingredients
Search the grocery market to see if these things are available.
- Dried seaweed to make homemade dashi broth for Japanese dishes & hotpots
- Dried bonito flakes (katsuobushi) to make fish broth (NB: Bonito fish flakes are used as a savory topping on many Japanese dishes to create ‘umami’ )
- Ready-made kombu dashi broth (seaweed soup stock)
- Ready-made sukiyaki broth (soy sauce, mirin rice wine, sake, and sugar)
- Ready-made shabu shabu broth
Hot tip: This Japanese cookbook is a great place to learn how to do Japanese hot pot cooking (coming soon)
Japanese Cupboard Stores including flour
- Okonomiyaki flour
- Japanese panko bread crumbs for tonkatsu pork cutlets
- Tempura batter mix
- Japanese agar powder
- Japanese mayonnaisse – Kewpie brand
- Goma sesame oil
- Mentsuyu – for the soup base for soba and udon noodle bowls
- Japanese pickles in jars or a sealed bag
- Gyoza wrappers
Japanese Rice Dishes
- Readymade tins of inari sushi pockets (seen in the picture above, filled with seasoned rice)
- Sushi rice
- Sushi rice wine seasoning
- Roasted seaweed sheets of nori
Japanese Noodles & Curry Pastes
- Japanese curry blocks (Our favourite brand is Golden curry in mild)
- Udon noodles
- Ramen noodles
- Ready made ramen broth
- Soba noodles
- Cup Noodle Ramen
Hot tip: Master Ramen at home with this cookbook. (Coming soon)
- Organic Matcha Tea Powder
- Peach Tea
- Sakura Latte instant sachets
- Royal Milk Tea sachets (10 in a box). I buy at least 3 boxes each visit!
Japanese is the best land for Japanese snacks and sweets. We dare you to argue! Take a look at some of the best ones we’ve found, and all at an affordable price.
- Kinoko no Yama toadstool biscuits (how can a Gnome resist?)
- Takenoko no Sato biscuits by Meiji
- Pocky Chocolate Sticks
- Cheap and cheerful Dagashi Snacks
- Japanese Kit Kats
- Japanese chips
- Hello Panda biscuits
- Sweet potato karinto snacks
- Nanbu Japanese crackers assortment
- Lotte Choco Pie biscuits
- Edamame bean snacks
READ MORE: The Ultimate Guide to Japanese Snacks
Head to a Japanese supermarket candy aisle to find delicious candy to take home.
- Morinaga Milk Caramel Japanese candy
- Kracie Popin’ Cookin’ Japanese Candy Sets
- Hi Chew Japanese fruit candy
- Milky hard candy with Peko chan on the packaging
Japanese chocolate is some of the cheapest chocolate we’ve ever seen. How the Japanese people have the willpower to say no when a bar of Japanese chocolate is less than 120 yen, I’ve no idea.
- Meiji chocolate bars, the original one in the brown and gold packaging
- Meiji THE chocolate bars. They sold over 30 million bars in their launch year!
- Crunky chocolate and Crunky chocolate balls. OH MY!
- Dars chocolate
READ MORE: An Awesome Guide to Japanese Chocolate
Japanese Ceramics & Kitchenware
A Japanese grocery store may also sell a selection of kitchenware products. We look out for:
- Cute Japanese ceramic dishes
- Chopstick holders
- Soy sauce dishes
- Udon and ramen noodle soup bowls
- Donburi bowls
- Unusual chopsticks
- Japanese pottery (especially if it has a cute Japanese motif, like a neko cat face, or a Japanese dog on it)
You might find a Japanese omelette frypan to make delicious tamagoyaki as pictured above, if you are lucky.
We keep our eyes open for Japanese kitchen tools, bento boxes, bento accessories & supermarket tote bags too.
Coming soon! A Checklist Printable
Coming soon: A PDF printable you can download and take with you on your Japanese Grocery store adventures in Japan and at home.
Main image credit: Michael Saechange
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