Updated: Jul 26, 2020
List of Supermarkets in Japan
Visiting a supermarket when you are studying abroad in Japan is a must! Firstly, it is a given that cooking and buying your food and drink will be part of your daily life when studying abroad in Japan. Therefore, becoming familiar with the biggest supermarkets in Japan before arriving is potent; if you wish to make the most out of your year abroad in Japan.
In this post, we will explore the biggest supermarkets in Japan and see what products they have on offer. We have also devised a list of supermarkets in Japan starting with the country’s favourite!
List of Japanese Supermarkets
First on our list of Japanese supermarkets is SEIYU
Interestingly, SEIYU supermarkets are now owned by the American Company Walmart. Like Walmart, SEIYU is unbeaten on prices for food and drink and is one of the biggest supermarket chains in Japan. Therefore, as a student, having a local SEIYU close to your accommodation is a great advantage. For example, a slice of salmon on the fish counter can cost as little as 88 yen ($0.82)! Which seems ridiculously cheap compared to European prices for fresh fish. Also, other fresh items such as a dozen eggs ($1.20), chicken pieces ($1.50) and other fresh items are equally affordable!
That is why Seiyu falls first on our list of Japanese supermarkets. To find more Japanese supermarket food found at Seiyu check out Seiyu’s website.
2. Ito Yokado
Second on our list of Japanese supermarkets is ‘Ito Yokado’!
Ito Yokado is the second biggest supermarket in Japan, having over 135 stores! Interestingly, 129 of the stores process tax-free forms, meaning that international visitors claim back the tax on their products.
What’s more, Ito Yokado is more than ‘just a Japanese supermarket’ the firm operates in a more department-store-fashion (with the supermarket found on the ground floor). For example, the Ito Yokado store in Shinjuku, Tokyo; sells Japanese supermarket food on the ground floor, with the first and second floors sells cosmetics and clothing.
Another reason why the firm falls second on our list of Japanese supermarkets is that the store is remarkably cheap; matching the prices of SEIYU.
To find other Japanese supermarket food found at Ito Yokado check out their website.
3. Daiei Supermarket
Next on our list of Japanese supermarkets is ‘Daiei’ Supermarket.
Daiei is known for being one of the largest supermarket chains in Japan! Based in Kobe, the chain has over 3,000 stores located all over the country. However, despite the number of stores, Daiei is one of the subsidiary companies of Aeon (the 5th in our list of Japanese supermarkets). Interestingly, Daiei does offer own branded products, such as the sweet attached:
What’s more, similar to Ito Yokado, Daiei is also a department store; selling electronics, clothes as well as home furnishings.
4. TOKYU Store
Falling fourth on our list of Japanese supermarkets is Tokyu Store.
Again, similar to the Japanese supermarkets listed previously, the Tokyu supermarket is found within the Tokyu department store. Once entering one of the five stores located around Japan, you are greeted by cosmetic products and clothing. However, do not let this distract you from visiting the Japanese supermarket found on the floor below. What I liked about this supermarket, is the elaborate displays; for example, if you are buying fruit, the products are placed on the shelves very artistically.
As you can see:
As much as this may be appealing, the downside is that the prices are increasingly more expensive ($100 for the attached basket of fruit!)
Nevertheless, there is no harm in having a look at the different Japanese supermarket food on offer by Tokyu.
Next on our list of Japanese supermarkets is AEON!
Like Ito Yokado, Aeon is more than just a Japanese supermarket! Aeon is considered one of the largest retailers in Asia by the Financial Times, therefore Aeon sells more than just Japanese supermarket food, as the company also sells other household goods.
However, despite a large array of products sold by the company, the reason why Aeon falls third on our list of Japanese supermarkets is that unlike Seiyu and Yokado, the firm sells more luxury food items, such as imports and focuses on quality rather than quantity.
To find out the variety of Japanese supermarket food sold at Aeon check out their homepage.
6. Life Supermarket
Finally, falling sixth on our list of Japanese supermarkets is ‘Life’ Supermarket
Life, may not be one of the biggest supermarkets in Japan, however, there are over 39 stores located around Japan if you get a chance to stop by.
I shopped at a ‘life’ supermarket by chance, as unlike the other stores the logo is usually a large clover, and as I do not speak Japanese, I was unsure what the kanji stated underneath. Nevertheless, once inside the layout and the prices are very reasonable (similar to Seiyu and Ito Yokado). However, because there are so few located around Japan, it results in the ‘Life’ supermarket falling 6th in our list of Japanese supermarkets.
Next, we will look at the variety of Japanese supermarket food available in-store!
1. Buying Fish at a Japanese Supermarket
Fish can be cheap in Japan compared to the UK, for example, at the fish counters found within the Japanese supermarkets, it is normal to find slices of salmon for 106¥ equal to $1!
As well, the fish is usually super-fresh and ready to be consumed!
2. Buying Alcohol at a Japanese Supermarket
If you are planning to throw a small party during freshers week heading over to your local Japanese supermarket is a must! Not only is alcohol reasonably priced but also there is usually a wide variety of beverages on offer! I would recommend tasting ‘Strong-Zero Lychee flavour’! Not only is Strong zero widely accessible among Japanese supermarkets, but the brand is also Japanese, therefore it is authentic whilst at the same time; very delicious!
3. Buying snacks at Japanese Supermarket
Snacks are usually a necessity for modern-day life – and where better to go that your local Japanese supermarket? You can find at least two Ilse dedicated to sweet and savoury snacks! Snacks include
Ø rice balls (onigiri)
Ø pot noodles (Usually the biggest supermarkets in Japan have a boiling water dispenser at check-out)
Ø Biscuits, Sweets and Chocolate
Ø as well as much more!
Depending on the type of Japanese supermarket will depend on the availability of snacks. The cheaper stores in our ‘list of supermarkets in Japan’ usually offer more snacks, compared to the more expensive Japanese supermarkets, which primarily focus on fresh foods (sushi, meat and fruits).
4. Buying fruit at a Japanese Supermarket
This brings us nicely onto our next category; buying fruit! Admittedly, I was a little shocked at the price of fruit in Japanese supermarkets, I thought compared to European pricing, the prices in Japan were on the expensive side. For example, a portion of 500g of grapes can cost 1000¥ (equal to $9.50), or 10 or so strawberries could cost 800¥ ($7.50) usually I did not buy such luxuries, nevertheless, it was nice to treat myself to fruit now and again, and if you wish to get more for your money, I would recommended checking out our top two stores on our ‘list of Japanese supermarkets’ to find the best deals.
5. Buying imported food at a Japanese Supermarket
Purchasing imported foods, such as European Wines, American sweets and Asian spices usually costs more than Japanese goods. However, if you are feeling home-sick and wish to indulge in a nice American-style chocolate brownie or a chilled Italian Sparking wine heading over to TOKYU and Life (numbers 4 and 6 on our list of Japanese supermarkets) you are bound to find what you are looking for. As these Japanese supermarkets focus primarily on ‘variety’, therefore have a large selection of imported goods. However, coming from Europe I was not too bothered about purchasing such items, as I was more curious to try original Japanese supermarket food, made in Japan.
What I am about to tell you next is a “need to know”
Japanese supermarkets such as SEIYU, Yokado and Daiei (numbers 1, 2 and 3 on our list of Japanese supermarkets) usually begin to mark down their unsold lunch items around 14:00. Items include:
hotdogs and pizzas,
sushi and much more!
As well, they also reduce their prepared food at around 19:00. Whereby, discounts usually start-off at 10 to 20% and food items can sometimes be discounted as much as 50 to 70 percent! This is perfect if you have cravings after a night drinking!
You may wish to stop off at your local Japanese supermarket to grab their reduced sushi, chicken bites, breads or even prepared burgers in which you can eat the next day for your lunch.
Lastly, it is key to note that most Japanese supermarkets close at 11 pm but some may stay open until midnight.
I hope this article on Japanese supermarkets has helped you out, if you need more information on my list of Japanese supermarkets, contact me and I will get back to you shortly!