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WHAT TO BUY AT JAPANESE GROCERY STORE – ULTIMATE GUIDE

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

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!)

A Japanese grocery store is a wonder filled treasure chest of delicious pantry products, groceries, and ready to eat staples. 

Read more about 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

Prepay excess luggage

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

NB: We buy fresh foods like tofu and fresh miso at home, rather than in a long life package.


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

Q: 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

JAPANESE GROCERY STORE SHOPPING LIST 

Take a look at our shopping list of what to buy at Japanese grocery store below.

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

No.1: 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.

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

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)

tempura pic by pointnshoot

Image credit: PointnShoot via Flickr CC BY-2.0

No.3: Japanese Cupboard Stores including flour

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.4: 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

golden curry boxes pic by david mckelvey

No.5: 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
  • instant noodles

Hot tip: Master Ramen at home with this cookbook. (Coming soon)

japanese milk tea pic by jencu

Image credit: Jencu via Flickr CC BY-2.0

No.6: Japanese Drinks

  • 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!

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

No.7: 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.8: 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

RELATED: The Only Guide to the BEST Japanese Candy you’ll ever need!

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.9: 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.

  • 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!


RELATED: An Awesome Guide to Japanese Chocolate

tamago egg omelette pic by city foodsters

Image credit: City Foodsters via Flickr CC BY-2.0

No.10: 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.

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 them can be found in Tokyo Central, and throughout Japan. 

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

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

Find a map of Life Supermarkets in Tokyo here.

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

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RAVI GANGADHAR KUMTHEKAR

Monday 8th of February 2021

Very helpful article.

Amber Greene

Friday 12th of February 2021

Thanks for letting me know Ravi.


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