Sporadic Happiness (in Japan!)

(formerly) updated every Wednesday

#2 Japanese grocery store evening discounts

Ever since I started this blog (just 2 days ago) I’ve had an ever growing list of things I want to make posts about.  So perhaps this will get updated more often than twice a month after all!

Japanese grocery stores are really small compared to some of the megaliths that exist in the US.  But everything you need (provided you like Japanese food) is there.

Most stores have a pre-made food section, with food made at the store (in the back somewhere) available to customers in styrofoam trays with plastic wrap over them.  I rely on this section a lot when I’m stressed or tired or just don’t feel like cooking anything.  It’s basically all kinds of Japanese side dishes (fish, vegetable mixes with flavor added, rice in trays with toppings, rice balls with fish or vegetables inside, rolled sushi, actual sushi with fish on top, fried chicken, fried seafood, Chinese vegetable mix…the list goes on and on).  Basically I often buy one or two of these and eat them with whatever amount of rice I have left over from my lunch at school (they always serve more rice than I can eat so I take it home in a bento box aka tupperware like box).

Besides Japanese grocery stores being cute and novel and providing pre-made food for me, I like them for another very important reason.

Evening (or late afternoon) discounts:

After a certain time of day (which can be different for different grocery stores), the grocery store clerks start walking around the store and inspecting the goods.  If there’s something that’s going to expire today, they slap a discount sticker on it.  Better to sell something at a discounted price than not sell it at all, right?

My island grocery store starts this discount at 4pm, which is perfect for me because I get off work at 4pm.  So by the time I get to the grocery store (actually just a 5 minute walk from the middle school I teach at) the stickers are already on things.  Now, my store does this discount at 4pm because it closes at 6:30 pm.  (PS If you think that’s early, I have a lot more facts for you on that topic that you wouldn’t believe).  I think other stores in cities might do it at later times if they’re open later.

The discount stickers come in 3 kinds:

Half off.  These are by far my favorite (who doesn’t love buying something at half price?)

A certain amount off.  The one displayed here is 30 yen off.  (30 cents ish).  By the way, the sticker on the left hand side says that this was hand-made at the store.

A certain percent off.  The 2 indicates “20 percent.”

With these lovely discounts, I was able to buy all this (plus juice and olive oil which aren’t included in the picture) for about $11

If you’re curious what some of these things are…

I’ll go clockwise from the strawberries.  (You recognized that one right?).  To it’s right is one of my side dishes today – crushed tofu plus various vegetables mixed in and some flavor added.  Then there’s sliced bread with raisins in it (3 pieces – bread here comes pre-sliced in thick pieces, and has anywhere from 3-6 slices per bag).  Next is another side dish I will eat with my rice.  It’s a layer of deep fried tofu on the outside with bits of vegetables mixed in, and the center is somewhat hallowish.  It’s soft.  The last thing is 2 slices of chocolate roll-cake.  Do you know what a roll cake is?  Because actually I don’t think I knew before coming to Japan.  But actually, Little Debbies Ho Hos seem to look like they were based on the concept of a roll cake.

Ho Hos.

Roll cake.

Actually, searching for these pictures on the internet made me realize that it looks like the proper English term for these are “cake rolls.”  Which makes sense.  But the Japanese say roll cake (ロールケーキ).  But don’t fret.  This isn’t the first time the Japanese have messed with the English language.  Oo, I feel another post coming on!