With the festive season in full swing, now is a time when a lot of people living abroad in Japan find themselves craving some home comforts and other international food.
If you are looking for an international food store where you can buy American snacks or popular Western food, or even harder-to-find rare imports, here are some of our favorites.
1. Gyomu Super
This is one of the favorite international food shops amongst Japanese people and people who move to Japan. Gyomu is great for a bargain and many people shop here for their weekly shop since products are often slightly cheaper than some of the other popular supermarkets. If you know Aldi or Lidl, Gyomu is very similar to these supermarkets.
Like a lot of international food shops in Japan, Gyomu doesn’t exclusively have international food. It’s more of a regular supermarket with a pretty impressive selection of imported goods. You may not be able to find all the international food you are looking for here, but it’s a good place to start in case you can find a bargain before heading to some of the more specialist (and expensive) Western food stores.
The big draw to Gyomu is the low prices, it’s much cheaper than all the other international food shops listed below. However, this is large because the imported food and Western food they do sell are usually unfamiliar brands. That isn’t to say you can’t find great replicas of some of your favorite European and American snacks. Gyomu sells their own version of Bounty bars, Twix chocolate, Oreo bars, (and that’s just some of the chocolate)!
Gyomu regularly changes their stock and a benefit of this is that you always have new international food products to get excited by. Nevertheless, it does mean that you can’t count on the same product being there again – so if you spot something you’d like, it’s best to pick it up when you see it!
There are so many Gyomu Supa’s spread throughout Japan, so, if you live further from the bigger cities (where you would usually find international food shops), Gyomu might be the best option for you.
Some things you may find at Gyomu: a vast meat selection, halal foods, frozen ravioli, puff pastry, herbal teas, (some) cheeses, tins, beans, and plenty of snacks.
2. Seijo Ishii
If you are looking for specific brands of international food, Seijo Ishii is a good place to start. Seijo Ishii is an international food store that also sells Japanese groceries and some fresh bakery goods.
This international food store is more of an upscale supermarket, offering fashionable products to the Japanese market. It focuses largely on Western food, specifically European foods as well as high-quality Japanese foods. The downside to Seijo Ishii is the hefty price tag, however, you can ensure that the food is of great quality so it can be worth it as a treat!
The Seijo Ishii stores are often located in stations or department stores. They are perhaps best known in the foreign community for the variety of cheeses they often have in stock. Although, Seijo Ishii also stocks plenty of pantry items like sauces, curry pastes, cereals, and pasta.
Good for: cheeses (especially when they are reduced), charcuterie, snack foods, spirits, wine, and imported and craft beers.
Jupiter is a specialist international food store. Like Seijo Ishii stores, they can be found in stations and department stores, usually in residential neighborhoods. If you live in a less populated area there’s still a chance you may be able to find either a Seijo Ishii or a Jupiter store.
Jupiter began as a coffee importer but has since expanded into a large selection of snacks and imported international food.
Expect to find plenty of sweet treats from Walker’s shortbread to Haribo sweets. As well as this Jupiter is one of the best international food shops for stocking ingredients for all kinds of cuisine, such as Thai curry pastes, mango chutney, fresh pasta, taco shells, and an array of herbs and spices.
Good for: tea and coffee, pantry ingredients (curry pastes, herbs, sauces), chocolate, biscuits, and crisps.
Yamaya stores are best known for spirits, wine, and beer. It’s the best place to go for affordable imported alcohol, and often has good deals on multiple item buys.
As well as international alcohol, you can often find imported Western food, usually including cheeses and American snacks. Though Yamaya doesn’t have the largest collection of foreign foods, the Western food they do have is usually quite affordable in comparison to some of the other options on this list.
Good for: snacks, wines, beers, spirits, and snacks.
5. Bio Ral
If you are lucky enough to live near a Bio Ral, do check it out if you are interested in organic goods and healthy foods.
Bio Ral is part of the Life supermarket corporation and it is not exclusively an international food store, rather it is considered a ‘natural’ supermarket. This store is best for anyone looking for organic vegetables, local goods, and free-from ingredients.
For any vegans or vegetarians, this is the place to go for good substitutes. Some things you can find here include seitan, wheat gluten (so that you can make seitan), pre-prepared sauces, soy meat, vegan mayo, vegan instant noodles, and more.
If you are looking to indulge in your favorite snacks from back home (think Cadburys chocolate, Lays crisps, or something along those lines) this won’t be where you’ll find that. However, they do stock a great variety of health-conscious imported international food, as well as some healthier American snacks.
Good for: free-from ingredients, organic fruit, and vegetables, health foods.
As well as these stores, most big supermarkets (Aeon, MaxValu) do have a small international section for some essentials – though you’re better off getting these at Gyomu if you are looking for a better deal!
Some other popular international food shops are Kaldi Coffee Farm and Costco (though you need a membership for Costco).
When searching for nearby international food shops on Google maps, make sure to familiarise yourself with the kanji for each shop since it sometimes doesn’t pop up in romaji.
We hope you find what you’re looking for!