About Cheaper Grocery Shopping in Japan - Vikingess Voyages

Thursday, May 24, 2012

About Cheaper Grocery Shopping in Japan

You can find a wide range of food on sale in Japanese grocery stores.
One thing that is really good about Japanese grocery stores is that they usually have sale on food which is about to expire. As a result customers who have a low budget, or just simply want to try something new but doesn't want to pay a lot for something they might not like, have the chance to enjoy a wide range of products at a lower price. Not to mention the environmental aspect of it: every day tons of food is being thrown in the garbage all over the world because the stores can't sell it. One can thus argue that it benefits the environment that the Japanese stores sell their nearly expiring groceries at a reduced price.
With the price reduction system its nicer to try out new things
Or, at least that's what I like to think.
About a month ago I moved to a new apartment, and the place couldn't have been better: I'm the nearest neighbor to the local Kyoto Coop grocery store. Although the prices of their groceries don't vary that much compared to their competitors I have discovered that they give pretty nice discounts at the end of the day. Every day between 7 and 7:30 pm some of the employees walk around in the store giving out waribiki for different kinds of products. They start with small reductions, but depending on the product things that haven't been bought by around 19:25 end up being sold for half price. One can thus save quite a lot of money (or alternatively affording to eat more than normally) just by going to the store at the right time. As a student living abroad with more or less no income it is particularly nice to be able to get a little price reduction, haha..
Yesterday I went to the Coop store at a quarter past seven to buy ingredients for dinner, and I looked at some chicken with a 30% price reduction. I wondered whether to buy it or not, so I went for a short stroll to see if I could find anything else I wanted to buy. When I came back, the price reduction of the chicken had changed to 50%.. Yay!
Whenever you shop in a Japanese grocery store, you should look for this sign, which says "half price" (hangaku)!
Especially nowadays with the yen being higher than ever it is really good that it is possible to get the food cheaper than usual by using this method. For busy people it can also have some advantages to check out the stores around the time they give out their offers, as you can find ready prepared meals such as Japanese bento-boxes and sushi for a fraction of the normal price. I wish we had such a system in Norway too, I really think it would have reduced the amount of food thrown away by the grocery stores.

What do you think? Should this concept be implemented in other countries as well?

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About Anette
Anette came to Japan as an exchange student in 2010, met the love of her life and got stuck. From her base in Tokyo she writes about her experiences as a full-time worker in Tokyo and about her travels in Japan and abroad. She's a free-spirited adventurer who enjoys both the great outdoors and her urban lifestyle.

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  1. This post made me check the exchange rate for JPY and NOK... Let's just say I feel sorry for you. The very unfavorable rate reminded me of the first period of time I spent in Kyoto, only I think it's even worse! I thought the Yen had become cheaper lately, but no...

    Funny thing that you could just "wait" a little to get the chicken for half price. I agree that the Norwegian stores should have a similar system. The grocery stores could have 50% off on bread if you buy it late in the evening. Since it's (I suppose) fresh every day, and the rest is going to get thrown out when the store closes anyway...

  2. The rate was pretty good last year in the months after the earthquake, but since August the yen has generally only gone up. I guess all the problems in EU makes the yen grow really strong against NOK. Unfortunately.. ><

    Yeah, that would have been nice..! If the bread is going to get thrown away anyway, they might as well sell it with reduced prices. It is kind of a paradox that so much eatable food is thrown away in some parts of the world, when people are starving to death in other..

    1. Argh, the economy... Why does it have to be difficult like that? :P

      The world's food situation sure is a paradox. Perhaps there's no system like that in Norway due to lack of awareness? Also, there's no tradition for selling foodstuffs at reduced prices like they do in Japan...

    2. Right!?! ^^

      Yeah, it is strange that we don't even have a discussion about it.. Which again might be due to a lack of awareness, as you say. I also feel that the government always wants to protect own interest when it comes to prices on food, giving extra money to farmers etc... (?) :p


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A modern day shield-maiden who loves to explore the unbeaten paths of the world. From her base in Tokyo, Anette takes on both rural and urban challenges, and goes by the motto "No challenge too big, no adventure too small"!
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