There are a large variety of supermarkets available in Tokyo, ranging from small convenience stores and larger grocery stores, to major supermarkets and specialty foods markets.
With close to 45,000 convenience stores across Japan, many of Tokyo’s city streets have one within a few minutes walk from wherever you are, and in some of the city’s most crowded areas, competing convenience stores often co-exist on the same street corner. The most ubiquitous is 7-Eleven, with Lawson, FamilyMart, and AM/PM also being quite prevalent.
Convenience store offerings typically include the basics: bread, butter, cheese, instant noodles, lunchboxes, milk, newspapers and magazines, office supplies, prepackaged foods, soda, sweets, etc. and some offer a selection of alcohol and spirits. These stores also generally offer ATM service (although not all cards are accepted and many machines will discontinue service after 9:00p.m.), basic post, bill and utilities payment, photocopying, and ticket purchase for concerts and special events.
There are a multitude of “supermarkets” in Tokyo – some of which are freestanding, while others often reside in the basement of some of the city’s prominent department stores. Some examples include:
There are dozens of Daimaru Peacock stores scattered throughout the city that provide local and some imported grocery items including fresh produce, baked goods, and basic kitchenware items.
Hanamasa supermarkets are essentially the only 24-hour grocers available. While Hanamasa does not sell the most up-market products available to Tokyoites, these supermarkets offer much more than a typical convenience store can provide, and thus are a favorite for those on a budget or needing a last minute ingredient at whatever time of day.
3-11-13 Minami-aoyama, Minato-ku , Tokyo Tel: 03-3409-1231
Kinokuniya describes themselves as the first “supermarket” in Japan, having opened the doors of its main Aoyama store in 1953. Kinokuniya’s stores have a large variety of fresh local and imported grocery items, and a fairly extensive wine and spirits section.
Mitsukoshi, Takashimaya, and other Department Stores
Mitsukoshi and Takashimaya are department store chains that are known for their very high-quality offering across a range of product categories. Their “supermarkets” are setup with counters that specialize in certain foods such as traditional Japanese “bentos” (lunchboxes), sushi, tempura, sweets, etc., while also providing more “standard” grocery items.
Like in every other market where they operate, Costco is a wholesaler of a variety of goods, including grocery supplies. Many of the items on sale at Costco’s stores cannot be found within the city, and at wholesale prices, these stores have become very popular with both the Japanese and foreign communities. While most elect to drive to the various Costco outlets (on account of the size of the goods being purchased), for a small fee, Costco can ship your purchase home.