Skip to Content

WHAT TO BUY AT JAPANESE GROCERY STORE – 11 BEST PANTRY ITEMS

INSIDE: The Ultimate Guide of what to buy at Japanese grocery store markets for cooking recipes and authentic dishes. 

Hoping to head 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!)

A local Japanese grocery store is a wonder filled treasure chest of delicious Japanese food pantry products, fresh groceries, all the popular candies from Japan, and ready to eat staples. 

Wondering what to buy from a Japanese supermarket?

Read our guide to the best Japanese grocery items and find out what to buy at a Japanese grocery store below! 

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking on one of these links, we may receive a small commission at NO extra cost to you. Main image credit: Michael Saechange via Flickr 

800px-Chocolate_in_Japan

Image credit: Gary Cycles via Wikimedia CC BY-2.0

How to carry the best Japanese grocery items home?

Hot tip: Prepay excess luggage

If you are a serious foodie, pay for an extra 30 kilos of luggage now.

Because once you read this guide on what to buy at Japanese grocery store, you’ll need it. 

That small investment will pay off big time when you see how much cheaper Japanese foodstuffs are in Japanese grocery stores in Tokyo and other cities, compared to when you buy a bottle of Japanese sauce in a Japanese grocery story at home.

It’s another reason grocery shopping in Japan is so much fun!

And then there’s JAPANESE CANDY.

(Need we say more?) 

NB: We prefer to buy fresh Japanese foods like tofu and freshly made miso from our local Japanese food stores at home. 


RELATED: Everything You Need to Know about Finding Tokyo Supermarkets near you

udon pic by yuya tamai

Image credit: Yuya Tamai via Flickr CC BY-2.0

THE INSIDE SCOOP: What to buy at Japanese Grocery Store in Japan? 

Buy the necessary base ingredients from Japanese Grocery Stores 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
  • Tempura
  • Okonomiyaki pancakes
  • Japanese hot pots including oden, sukiyaki and shabu shabu
  • Okayu savory rice porridge dish for good health
  • Yakisoba
  • Yakitori
  • Gyoza dumplings
  • Tonkatsu and Kashikatsu fried dishes
  • Tamagoyaki Japanese omelette

PIN japanese grocery stores sig

THE BEST JAPANESE GROCERY LIST! 

Take a look below at our  Japanese grocery store shopping list – it has everything you need to know about what to buy at Japanese grocery store.

Write down your favourites and take your food shopping list with you next time you want to buy Japanese groceries.

PS: You can also use this list if you want to shop in your local Japanese grocery store so you can cook traditional Japanese food at home.


RELATED: A Complete Guide to Visiting Japanese Supermarkets in Japan

japanese shabu shabu restaurant by marco verch

Image credit: Marco Verch  CC BY-2.0

WHAT TO BUY IN JAPANESE GROCERY STORE – TOP TEN CATEGORIES

No.1: Best Japanese Sauces & Japanese cupboard staples

Write these Japanese food suppplies down.

Here’s a round up of all the best Japanese pantry staples you should buy 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)
  • 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!

image - japanese broth miso soup by pexels-ponyo-sakana

Image credit: Ponyo Sakana via Pexels 

Best Japanese Miso paste?

You can buy brown rice miso paste in a sealed jar (soybean paste). 

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.

If you are wondering: 

  • Which miso paste is best for miso soup?
  • What is the best miso paste brand?
  • How do you choose miso paste? 

this article will help.

It tells you about the three type of miso – red, white and yellow, as well as which miso to use in recipes. 

It also asks 13 Japanese chefs their thoughts on the best miso paste to buy.

(Coming soon – Grocery Shopping in Japan PDF checklist for your handbag.)

what to buy at japanese grocery store - sake chazuke seasoning by janine

Image credit: Janine via Flickr CC BY-2.0

No.2: Japanese Seasoning

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

Japanese grocery stores in Japan have hundreds of options.

Take your Google Translate app to decipher the ingredients.

FAQ: 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!

image - Sukiyaki hot pot wikipedia

Image credit: CycloneBill via Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

No.3: Best Japanese broth ingredients

My absolute favorite foods in Japan are “nabe” – one pot meals.

Japanese nabe hot pots are full of flavor and “umami” – they are often brought out at special occasions such as birthdays, festivals, and having special guests over for dinner. 

But you can make them at home anytime too. 

Search the grocery market for these Japanese ingredients for hot pots. 

  • 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. 

tempura pic by pointnshoot

Image credit: PointnShoot via Flickr CC BY-2.0

ESSENTIAL JAPANESE INGREDIENTS

No.4: Best Japanese Cupboard Stores

These are standard Japanese grocery items. 

  • 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
  • senbei rice crackers

inari platter pic by vegan feast catering

Image credit: Vegan Feast Catering via Flickr CC BY-2.0

No.5: Best Japanese Rice Dishes

Wondering what to buy at Japanese market to make sushi? 

Pick up: 

  • 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

Hot tip: Inari Sushi pockets

Inari sushi is sometimes called inari zushi (inarizushi).

They are made using seasoned deep-fried tofu pockets.

These pocket sushi can have lots of different toppings including seasoning.

Take a look here for inari sushi topping ideas. 

golden curry boxes pic by david mckelvey

No.6: Japanese Noodles & Curry Pastes

These are the best things to buy at Japanese market stores for foodies. Unique Japanese curry pastes especially go down a treat! 

  • Japanese curry blocks (Our favourite brand is Golden curry in mild)
  • Udon noodles
  • Ramen noodles
  • Ready made ramen broth
  • Soba noodles
  • Cup Noodle Ramen
  • instant noodles

japanese milk tea pic by jencu

Image credit: Jencu via Flickr CC BY-2.0

No.7: Best Japanese Drinks

The list of Japanese drinks includes: 

  • 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!)

image - japanese tea ceremony matcha drink by pexels-charlotte-may

Image credit: Charlotte May via Pexels 

List of Famous Japanese drinks

Here are the 12 best Japanese drinks to put on your shopping list!  

It lists the 12 best types of Japanese drinks including Japanese soft drinks, Ramune soda drinks, Japanese juice drinks, traditional Japanese drinks (and what you drink at a Japanese tea ceremony) and Japanese alcohol.

The list is gigantic. 

Try them all! 

RELATED: Where to BUY Japanese drinks in Japan

what to buy at japanese grocery store - mochi dango balls on stick pic

SWEET TREATS FOR YOUR JAPANESE GROCERY SHOPPING LIST 

No.8: Japanese Snacks

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
  • colorful dango on a stick (as pictured)
  • Edamame bean snacks

READ MORE: The Ultimate Guide to Japanese Snacks 

japanese gummies candies pic by ian collins

Image credit: Ian Collins via Flickr CC BY-ND 2.0

No.9: Japanese Candy

Head to a Japanese super market 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

Wondering what to buy?

Start here: The TOP 15 best Japanese Candy to devour in 2021! 

RELATED: Where to buy Japanese candy and snacks

japanese chocolate meiji milk chocolate - what to buy at japanese grocery store pic by chinnian

Image credit: Chinnian via Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

No.10: Japanese Chocolate

Japanese chocolates are 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. 

Don’t miss these: 

  • Meiji chocolate bars, the original one in the brown and gold packaging
  • Crunky chocolate and Crunky chocolate balls. OH MY!
  • Dars chocolate
  • Meiji THE chocolate bars. 

They sold over 30 million Meiji THE bars in their launch year!

But here’s our best read:  The ONLY guide to Japanese Chocolate and Japanese chocolate snacks you’ll ever need

tamago egg omelette pic by city foodsters

Image credit: City Foodsters via Flickr CC BY-2.0

JAPANESE KITCHEN ESSENTIALS

No.11: 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.

Now, it’s time to make YOUR list of what to buy in Japanese grocery store in Japan. 

RELATED: The best place to buy Japanese bento lunch boxes and bento accessories in Tokyo

japanese supermarket pic by yuya tamai

Image credit: Yuya Tamai via Flickr CC BY-2.0

Coming soon! A Checklist Printable Japanese Grocery List

Coming soon: A PDF printable of a Japanese grocery list for a week.

This Japanese grocery list of what to buy at Japanese grocery store will be yours to download so you can take with you on your Japanese grocery store adventures in Japan, and at home.

what to buy at japanese grocery store maru etsu supermarket

Best Japanese Grocery Store in Japan?

These are the biggest and the best Japanese food supermarket to buy Japanese food.

Most of these Japanese grocery store chains can be found in Tokyo Central, and throughout Japan. 

  • Ito Yokado
  • AEON supermarkets
  • OK Supermarkets
  • Tokyu Store
  • Maru Etsu supermarket
  • Marusho supermarket
  • Seijo supermarket in Tokyo

Life Supermarket is a smaller boutique grocery market but worth a look.

Some of them do Japanese grocery delivery but you’ll need a native speaker to help you. 

Find a map of Life Supermarkets in Tokyo here.

Remember to take a print out of our Japanese grocery shopping list. 

family mart 800 bicycles by amber

Best Japanese Convenience Stores Konbini 

If you are short on time, or just need a few ingredients, another place to buy Japanese groceries is a Konbini, or Japanese convenience store. 

Our favorite is Family Mart.

(Read our guide to the best things to buy at Family Mart)

You can also try: 

  • Lawson
  • 7-Eleven

japanese kitkat green tea pic by tjeerd wiersma

Image credit: Tjeerd Wiersma via Flickr CC BY-2.0

Looking for More Fun Things to Do in Tokyo + Shopping in Tokyo?

Correct at time of publication on Roam the Gnome. Please check with venue for updates. We apologise in advance if there have been any changes we are unaware of. All prices in US dollars, unless otherwise stated

Click the links in blue below.

47 BEST SOUVENIRS FROM NEW YORK & WHERE TO BUY THEM!
← Previous

RAVI GANGADHAR KUMTHEKAR

Monday 8th of February 2021

Very helpful article.

Amber Greene

Friday 12th of February 2021

Thanks for letting me know Ravi.


Affiliate Disclosure:

This website contains references to products and services from our favourite brands. Some of these are affiliate links. If you make a purchase or booking after clicking on a link on Roam the Gnome™, we may receive a small affiliate commission at NO COST to you. All information on disclosures can be found in our Privacy Policy

Roam the Gnome ™ is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for website owners to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com, and any other website that may be affiliated with Amazon Service LLC Associates program. Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates. As an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Click here for a detailed explanation of our Advertising policy.

Thank you for visiting Roam the Gnome Family Travel™ Website Directory. Bookmark this page so you can find us again.