Supermarkets in Japan

All supermarkets around the world are evil. They all use clever techniques to get you to spend more on items you wouldn’t normally get. A few of the obvious are buy one get one free or candy at the counter for kids to moan at you until you give in and buy it for them.

So, let’s move onto supermarkets in Japan. There are a lot of supermarkets in Japan and in Japanese they are called “supa” スーパー in katakana. Some I will mention are Alps, Daiei, Celeo, gourmet city and many more. Some are part of a huge company and some are independent, but they all share one thing in common… being evil!!

For example, as I am writing this, I am sitting outside a supa and they are selling a potato stick type snack for 118 yen. The chemist 2 minutes away are selling the same thing for 78 yen!! That’s a huge difference and the supa around the corner are selling it for 89 yen. Now I get to thinking why this is. Simply they sell some things cheap and some things more expensive. Now all this is nothing new and most supermarkets around the world do the same thing.

What I cannot get my head around is vending machines outside belonging to the supa are selling a coffee for 160 yen but inside (literally 15 seconds away) are selling it for 98 yen!!! If people are this lazy then I give up.

They also have a little corner where they have made a tiny little kitchen to make bento and meals for you to take away and eat for lunch. This may sound all nice, but the price is WOW and you could do the same the night before unless you’re as lazy as. The thing that gets me is that they are obviously getting the ingredients soooo cheaply as they are the supermarket, or they use one day left before it expires chicken. Who knows, but for sure it must cost them a hundred yen-ish to make this item.

In Japan they always say the price of vegetables depends on the weather of the season. For example, if there is too much rain, the price of veg goes up. If there isn’t enough rain the price goes up, if it’s too hot the price goes up… can you see where I am going with this? Basically, the price will always be high as the weather will always be a perfect excuse.

So, what the supermarkets do is cut a lettuce into quarters and call it HALF a lettuce. The price is half the original price but believe me, it’s a tiny 1/4 of a lettuce not half. I have had so many arguments with the staff about this, now I just laugh and walk off.

Then we have the % off when it’s the same day expiration date. It used to be 30% off all meat when it was the expiration date but a. Couple of years back a supa named Alps didn’t put any % off sticker on the packaging and it was that day. I said, “so what’s that about?” They argued with me that it’s too early LOL so after a two-hour argument and the manager hiding upstairs as well as five staff around me defending their decision, I stood there until they put a % off sticker on. Guess what they did… 10% off. LOL I couldn’t believe it. I gave them the ultimatum of putting all my shopping back or 30% off the expiring meat and being very Japanese they said no so I put all good back and never returned. Does it make sense to you?? The amount of money I would spend there in a year or 30% off meat expiring. TOO STUPID.

So, the takeaway from this article is to not do all your shopping at one supermarket because most items are cheaper in one of the others. I imagine most of you will be using a bicycle or walking so use it to get used to your new place of living or if you are on holiday, use it to do some exploring. The money you can save if you shop smart can be enough for a few beers each time, who doesn’t like that?

Article written by David
Photos by David


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