Japanese grocery stores are a wonder for foodies and culture enthusiasts alike. They showcase all of the cool things that you would imagine they have in Japan, along with all of the culinary possibilities that those foods hold. Personally, traversing such grocery stores has become a pride of mine, as my family has made going to them sort of a fun Saturday pastime. However fun and exciting these stores may be, there are a few things that you should know in order to make your shopping, wandering and exploring adventure as fun as possible.
1) You should know that you will get weird looks
You will get stared at. It’s just a fact of life when going to Japanese grocery stores. I only can say this since I am super white and I stick out like a sore thumb. I don’t think they stare because they don’t want you there necessarily, it’s just that they don’t quite understand why you’re there and if you actually know what you’re doing. Consequently, I believe that they also really enjoy seeing new faces come in and experience their culture.The best way to combat this is to act like you know what you’re doing and to be kind and polite, everyone is going to want to help you more if you have nice manners.
2) Do some previous research
You need to know what you’re doing and what you’re getting into before heading into a Japanese grocery store. In my experience, there will be hardly any English on the packaging and if you don’t know what to expect there will most likely be no one to help you. Watch some Youtube videos to get an idea of what products you want to try and what their packaging looks like so you can identify them inside the store.
3) Don’t be afraid to try new things
The whole point of going to a Japanese grocery store is to get out of your comfort zone and try some new foods. At some stores, they have small food courts inside of them. Feel free to go and get some food from those places! It’s more often than not that I find some amazing food at those places that I normally wouldn’t have tried. Also, they often have freshly made pastries and foods during certain festivals which are a must try in my book as well.
4) Go in with an open mind
In situations like these, going in with an open mind can change the whole experience, and Japanese grocery stores are no exception. Going in with an open mind can change your whole experience and make it a positive one. This is a new and somewhat scary experience and maybe even a little bit of a culture shock to some. However, it is also an amazing experience to see and possibly taste a little bit of the Japanese culture.