Food Stuffs in Japan

When living overseas you have to be outside your comfort zone in a big way. All part of the overseas experience and the main reason most people don't do it. I posted recently about lacking modern conveniences and this post is about everyday groceries you take for granted that I can't get. Like raspberries just to start. Can't get raspberries in Japan.

Don't get me wrong, a lot of Japanese food is good. Yet. YET. I can only take so much sushi and ramen and tofu before it begins to get boring. Really boring.

Western foods most notably absent in Japan are the following: raspberries & blackberries, shallots, kale & other hearty lettuces, artichokes, romaine lettuce, beets, radishes, brussel sprouts, normal sweet potatoes, pumpkins, squash, nectarines, plums, granny smith apples, tortilla chips, crackers, ranch dressing, bread that isn't wonderbread, any kind of rice that isn't standard Japanese, turkey of any kind, a decent cheese selection, affordable wine that's palatable, cilantro or fresh herbs (other than basil and parsley), healthy cereal, almond milk, natural peanut butter, other nut butters, or anything organic.

Such exotic luxuries are available in bigger Japanese cities but hard to find and expensive. Obviously we've adapted and I admit our standards are lower now. For example we eat more potato chips and sometimes we hit Starbucks at the mall for lunch just because it seems almost normal.
Not to fixate too much on what I can't get because it's destructive, I'll move to all the great stuff we CAN get in stores here like yuzu fruit which I know isn't easy to find outside of Japan. Also, perfect mandarin oranges, extremely high quality eggs, Japanese leeks, ponzu sauce, excellent take-out tempura, sushi, gyoza (pot stickers), and literally 100s of different types of these things: tofu, soy sauce, miso, sake, mirin, dashi, mild greens, ramen & soba noodles, nori (seaweed), fresh fish, mushrooms, and mild greens. Did I mention the greens and lettuces are MILD??
And of course there's the weird or otherwise gross stuff I do not-never-no-way purchase here such as these bags of little dried up fishes. Also glands, tongue, fish eggs or eyes, octopus, all the slimy unrecognizable things, placenta jelly drink, cucumber pepsi, eel soda, horse meat ice cream, chocolate covered potato chips, strawberry cheetos, cheese candy (or is it candy cheese?), crab snacks, chocolate turd lookalike candy, mochi (hella bland rice dough), and umeboshi ame the disgusting salty pickled plum candy. Not gonna lie, there are days I feel like hurling just walking around the store.
A final glimpse into the daily challenges of food in Japan, take a look at this trainwreck of flavor and packaging ... "Vegetables, Meat, Eggs, and Fruits. Enjoy your meal!"


  1. Can I just nominate you for sainthood now? How in the world you've managed to survive for over a year and a half is completely beyond me. #comehomesoon

    1. Saved by potato chips and whisky! ... YIKES.