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21 Feb

What to buy in supermarkets

Once you add up the cost of flights, accommodation, buying or renting ski/snowboard equipment, lift passes, food and drinks you might be shocked by the total. Everyone wants to find ways to save money where possible while still having a great holiday. You don’t want to skimp on buying good quality equipment; with enough searching, you could find a great value flight but otherwise, it’s quite hard to cut down costs. However, if you add up the cost of eating out three times a day for the length of your stay you’ll realise it significantly increases your grand total. Of course, it’s nice to go out for dinner while on holiday and Niseko has plenty of great restaurants but if you cook for yourself even just half of the time you’re on holiday it will save you a lot.

It’s easy enough in Europe or America to pick out similar looking products. Japan on there hand is quite a bit more challenging, 50% of the products look completely alien (especially those long thin brown potato-type things). We’ve put together a guide of what to buy in Japanese supermarkets, the best value locations and a few simple recipes to help you save cash while eating delicious food.

Cheapest Shops

Aeon Max Value – Open 8AM–11PM

https://goo.gl/maps/WiJRncCJZnQPZDTL8

The cheapest supermarket anywhere near Niseko is Aeon Max Value is  located in Kutchan town a short bus ride or quick drive from Hirafu. Every hour you can catch the shuttle bus between Annupuri and Kutchan, check the timetable here https://www.niseko.ne.jp/en/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/11-20_2019-NU_ShuttleBus_en.pdf 

Hirafu 188 – Open 11AM–9PM

https://goo.gl/maps/cnLAE8T4h3tWQsMEA

Sapporo Drug Store inside Hirafu 188 has the best prices for alcohol in Hirafu. Other good deals can be found such as cheap spaghetti, chopped tomatoes, frozen chips, eggs for ¥125.

Seicomart – Open 6:30AM–11PM

https://goo.gl/maps/z9ZXz1B6eDYdRJ7XA

Seicomart is always busy, especially at night, it’s a little overpriced but then it can name it’s price being in a prime location in town

Lawson – Open 24 hours

https://goo.gl/maps/DYods5RGKVtDsQJd7

Lawson has better quality food at a slightly cheaper rate but it’s a 10-minute walk from the centre of Hirafu 

Meat/Fish

  • Chicken is cheap
  • Saba/Mackerel is the cheapest fish
  • Beef is expensive
  • Pork is quite cheap.

Look out for price reductions on meat and all other products at the end of the day, if you time it right, around 7-8pm you can get some great deals 

Beer crates aren’t much cheaper than buying individual cans for some reason – you might save ¥100

Whiskey is very cheap, starting at ¥500 for a bottle.

What European stuff is cheap?

  • ¥800 for a huge block of mozzarella
  • ¥178 Spaghetti 
  • ¥90 Tinned tomatoes
  • ¥200 Spinach 
  • ¥350 frozen chips
  • ¥120 bread

Delicious simple pasta dish you can cook in 20 minutes:

Boil spaghetti with salt until it’s just becoming soft, not too soft.

Chop garlic, fry lightly. Add chopped tomatoes, Italian herbs and spinach. Simmer on low heat.

Drain spaghetti put on tahe plate. Chop the mozzarella into big chunks, add to tomatoes and spinach sauce so it’s melting while you eat it.

Easy Japanese food  

Japanese food is price sensitive to seasons – you can get tomatoes in August 15 for ¥500, rest of the year ¥300 for 3.

  • ¥125 Cup noodle
  • ¥100+ onigiri
  • ¥400 sashimi – wait until around 7-8pm for reduced deals
  • ¥250 udon
  • ¥50 Cheap curry
  • ¥500 rice 1kg – If you have a rice cooker then Japanese rice is delicious though it takes an hour to cook
  • ¥98 mushrooms
  • ¥85 Tofu

Fruit

Bananas are cheap, most other fruit in Japan is not. As I understand it Japanese law puts very strict rules on the sale of fruit for some unknown reason, every piece of fruit must be the same shape, size and colouration as all others sold with it. This means the price of fruit is high because the farmers have to adhere to these rules and of course that leads to a lot of fruit not being used. However, you can get fruit juice cheap, I guess all the weirdly shaped fruit ends up getting blended…

Fruit is used as a gift often in Japanese culture which is why it can get astronomically expensive, certain ‘perfect examples’ will fetch ludicrous prices. I think the most absurd example I ever found was a single strawberry for sale in a fruit boutique in Roppongi for ¥2000

You can easily spend ¥400 on a single apple

Watermelons go for ¥2000+

Grapes anywhere from ¥700-3000 – but if you get them during summer they are absolutely incredible, the most delicious grapes you’ll ever taste, I recommend the black ones

Peanut butter 

One of my favourite breakfasts before going snowboarding is peanut butter and jam on toast, peanut butter is a great source of protein, carbs and fat which is just what you need when you start to lag after your 3rd or 4th run. I’ve compared my energy levels on days where I eat cereal compared to peanut butter and jam on toast and I always feel better eating the latter, my energy lasts longer

Getting hold of decent, reasonably priced peanut butter in Japan can be a little tough sometimes.

– avoid most Japanese peanut butter, it’s pretty much just peanuts blended with butter… quite unhealthy

Skippy is expensive, ¥550 for a small jar

188 has cheap good peanut butter which comes in crunchy and smooth ¥300

In Kutchan you can buy bulk peanut butter, high quality, 1kg ¥1200

What to avoid

  • Natto – fermented soybeans with a sour taste and slimy, mucous-like  texture
  • Ume – raw sea urchin meat
  • Umeboshi – sour pickled plum
  • Those weird long potato things
  • Spiky cucumber looking things – ate once by mistake thinking it was a cucumber, it’s very bitter though apparently good for you

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