Japnese Travel Tips
Japanese Grocery Stores
To me, food is an important part of travel. I think a grocery store is a great place to lean more about a culture while "rubbing elbows" with the locals. And Japan is no exception. In Japanese grocery stores, you probably won't know what many of the foods are, but the experience of watching the housewives purchase that night's dinner is worth the price of admission. Most grocery stores will normally have a few prepared foods available for picnic lunches, and chopsticks are available if you ask. Buying these prepared foods is a quick, easy and inexpensive way to dine out. After your purchase, what better way to eat than to find an atmospheric spot and dine while performing some serious "people watching".
When entering the grocery store, pick up a hand basket. Because of the limited space in the average Japanese home, refrigerators are small. Most Japanese will only purchase enough food for that day, so there normally aren't shopping carts. Besides, many grocery stores aren't big enough for shopping carts anyway. After making your choices, take your basket of goodies to the check-out and place the basket next to the cashier's station. The cashier will check out your purchases, and the final payment amount will be displayed on the cash register. You can pay for your purchases by placing the cash in the tray provided. If you purchased some processed foods, and want chopsticks, just say Ohashi kudasai (Ohashi means chopsticks) and indicate the number of chopsticks you want by showing your fingers. At the end of the transaction, you will be given a plastic sack in your basket. There will be an area where you can take your basket and bag your purchases. And always be sure to leave your empty basket in the drop-off area provided.