Thursday, February 17, 2011

Japanese Grocery Stores

The grocery store is something that I mainly will not miss about living in Japan (with a few small exceptions).

For the most part in Japan, a grocery store is never just its own building, it is usually in a large multi-story complex with other shops, movie theaters, a food court, entertainment center, bowling alleys, you name it!  They can often always be found on the basement level of major department stores.  The grocery store closest to my house is called Saty.  It has made itself a legend amongst many of the visitors I've had over the years.  After many frustrating visits to Saty, I thought I'd write about what I will not miss about going to the grocery store.

Top ten things I will not miss about going to the grocery store:

10) Tuesday is sale day, crowds are unreal and it's all to save a few yen on potatoes and carrots. Why does it seem like I ALWAYS had the unavoidable need to go to Saty on a Tuesday?

9) Prices.  At 100-300 yen per apple at times, or 3,000 yen + for a  melon, I'm ready for savings back home.

8) Fish in 25% of the store or more.  I will be happy never to see a fish with its eye still in tact being sold for dinner, or fish that are tiny and could be mistaken for sprouts, or dried fish flakes to sprinkle on your food, or octopus tentacles ever again!

7) Not knowing what I'm buying (I have bought corn starch once, thinking it was flour).

6) The portion sizes.  The frozen bag of strawberries had 10 strawberries in it (for over 300 yen)!

5) The lack of whole grain bread choices.  Most bread is thickly sliced and comes in loafs of 5-6 slices.

4) The carts- all 4 wheels swivel and it is sooo annoying, especially when your kids are trying to push the cart around the store.  Not to mention, I can barely fit a weeks worth of groceries for my family of 6 in it in one trip.

3) The 1 Liter containers of milk.  I usually buy 24 a week, can't wait to only have to buy 3 gallons.

2) The delicatessen.

(you can see it's not your average deli)

1) The entryway to Saty:

Straight ahead:

To the left:

To the right:

This reason alone could be the sole reason I will NEVER EVER miss the grocery store.  It adds 20 minutes to my trip in and 20 minutes to my trip out of the store.  It is a busy mother's nightmare!

As I mentioned above, there are things I like about the Japanese grocery store:

1) The fruit is always delicious.

2) Meat is quite clean.

3) Everything is always arranged perfectly.

4) Cashiers are very efficient.  Look how she repacked my food in the basket- heaviest on bottom, lightest fragile items on top.

5) You always bag your own groceries, so you don't need to bring home 1 plastic bag for each item.
6) There is a dry ice machine in case you have a long way home on hot days.

7) There are refrigerated lockers so you can put your groceries in them while you scold your children for spending so much time entranced in the arcade.

8)  You can do all of your shopping (not just grocery) in one trip.

9) Thanks to the small portion/packaging sizes, you don't overeat.

10) You buy only what you will actually eat or need, due to the high prices, cutting down on a lot of waste.

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