Eating in Japan – What To Expect

  • FOOD
  • LIVE and WORK
  • Tokyo
  • If you visit Japan for a prolonged amount of time or plan to come here to live permanently, you might face some shifts in what you are eating. When you think of a Japanese cuisine you think rice, sushi, ramen, noodles, miso soup, tempura, and more. It is no surprise that when you come to Japan, it is exactly that — and it is DELICIOUS. However, if you are a person that is staying here for more than the average vacation, eating out may not be the best option all the time.

    As a pescatarian in Japan, it has become fairly easy for me to eat mostly anywhere. However, I do have to watch out for broths as many ramen places use beef broth. Also, you have to beware of tofu bowls as they may include a sauce containing pork (Ma Po Tofu). If you are vegan and vegetarian, you don’t have to worry too much, just be able to share your food preferences with a server or a chef and if you decide to cook your own food, you are off to a great start.

    When you walk into a Japanese supermarket, things might be hard to find due to the language barrier. With google translate in hand, a little Japanese in your back pocket, and kindness, you will make your way to finding what you want. Although it might come as a surprise when your staple foods become a luxurious splurge in Japan. For example, as I walked into a supermarket I was simply looking for some fruits and quinoa. When I saw that a mango was eight dollars I literally gasped. A MANGO was eight dollars, I still cannot believe it. Then I proceeded to look for some quinoa. It blew my mind that a pack of unseasoned quinoa was, wait for it… seven dollars and twenty five cents. My mind really could not fathom the prices, but I still held steady and walked out with my overpriced quinoa (mangoes can wait). Later on, I found out through thorough research (I clicked on one page) that fruits are expensive because they are a luxury in Japan as they are grown with extreme precision and picked just at the right time. Some fruits are even auctioned and sold for thousands of dollars!

    While I was disappointed, I was not ready to give up. I had to find a way to make my long stay in Japan sustainable for my health and for my wallet. I decided I would try to accommodate to the Japanese cuisine. With brown rice, shrimp, and vegetables in season, I created the perfect meal preps to take to work. For breakfast I stuck to some oats made with almond milk and cinnamon accompanied by an apple. For dinner, I would eat some avocado toast with two eggs. While the avocado was expensive (can vary from two to four dollars each), it was a purchase I was willing to make.

    If you are not much for cooking and you have little dietary preferences, 7-11 or Family Mart could become your go-to lunch spot as it was for me my first week in Japan. When you think of convenience stores for your meals, you may think of all sorts of fried foods, corn dogs, and hotdogs. Nonetheless, even though those are some options, these convenience stores are filled with a variety of freshly made foods. There is spaghetti to noodles to sushi, the choice is all up to you.

    If you are planning to move to Japan or simply are worried about what you are going to eat, you do not have a thing to worry about. Just as you found your way at wherever you are at the moment, with a little bit of test runs, you will find what best fits you in Japan!