There are three kinds of people who come to Japan: the first who continues to eat their Western diet that they’re used to, the second who decides to abandon all Western foods and go totally Japanese and the third type of person who is a bit of both and swings between the two. Whichever type of person you are, at some point during your time here, you will be overcome with a craving for some kind of food from your native land. You will want something familiar, comforting and (usually) much, much more expensive than you would be able to buy it for back home. So, what do you do when this happens? What do you do when all you want are Tim Tams, Vegemite, Hershey’s chocolate, re-fried beans or proper Canadian maple syrup?
Easy. You go to an import store, and in Hiroshima you’re lucky to have a few to choose from.
If you’re downtown you can head to Shareo, the underground shopping mall to stock up on all your favourites from Jupiter. I find that this store has a number of products/brands you can’t find at the other stores and I believe they stock the best range of products like breakfast cereals, dried fruit and different brands of chocolate.
One of the largest chain stores in Japan for imported foods is Yamaya and there are branches throughout the city and further afield in Hiroshima. Many people assume they only sell alcohol, but are pleasantly surprised when they discover there’s also food. Yamaya has a HUGE range of beer, wine and spirits both local and imported and if I can’t find what I’m looking for at the other import stores, I always head there.
The last import shop is Kaldi. Again, these are scattered throughout the city, but for convenience sake there is a small branch in Hiroshima Station and one in the Aeon Mall at Fuchu which you can get to by train (Tenjingawa Station, Sanyo Line; the stop after Hiroshima Station). For those fellow Aussies out there, it’s also the only place in the whole city you can buy Vegemite. I’m not a fan, but I know lots of people who are.
Of course, if you’re looking to buy in bulk, head straight to Costco and sign up to be a member. It’s located next to Mazda Zoom-Zoom Stadium near Hiroshima Station. They have everything you could want and more, but there are lots of obscure and cheap brands that you might not know and there’s no guarantee that you will find the brand you want. I rarely go, but I know some people who literally go every week to buy things they miss terribly from home. It’s worth a look whether you decide to go all out and buy anything and everything, or you just want to see what it’s all about.
Overall, import shops and their products are more expensive than you would pay back home, but that’s to be expected since everything is imported (duh, hence the name!) I figure if you really want something you’ll be more than willing to pay whatever for it. It’s all up to you!
When the cravings strike, head to your favourite import shop in Hiroshima and go wild!