Food is a magnificent thing. It has the ability to unify people because let’s be real, everyone is happier with a full and satisfied stomach. And contrary to what people may think, food is not as expensive as people may think it is in Tokyo. At least, not if you look in the right places.
I am probably a little biased since I really like Japanese food, so I have yet to find something that I outright disliked. However, having talked to others, I think the general consensus is that the food here is pretty great. And did I mention, extremely convenient? And I mean that in literal terms too, because normally people wrinkle their noses at the thought of convenience store food. I mean, who in the U.S. would claim that convenience store food is yummy, much less purchase seafood dishes there? But the konbini (convenience store) food is actually a full meal, and they offer a variety of options from sandwiches to curry to even sushi. Not only are they tasty and legit, but they’re cheaply priced at around ¥500 (about $4.00 USD).
Because I am the type of girl who is always looking for great deals, I have figured out that the supermarkets in Japan also sell these pre-made meals. It just so happens that these meals are discounted after a certain time, meaning that those prepped during lunch are marked down at around 2-3P.M. and the ones for dinner are discounted at around 9P.M. In fact, I have taken to shopping late night because of the lowered price on not just the packaged meals, but even on fresh produce and meats and the bakery. Go Japan for making it easy and affordable for busy people!
I don’t know if it is because people in Japan lead fast-paced busy lives, but everything here seems to revolve around efficiency. There is no shame in buying these already cooked meals because everyone else is doing it, too. One of the best things I have discovered is microwavable rice–as in it is already cooked and in an air-sealed packaged, and I wish they had this back home. At the same time, I admit that I question what goes into making rice able to last without going bad or losing its texture, but because I cannot read the packaging’s list of ingredients, I am going to remain in blissful ignorance.
Also, while on the topic of supermarkets, shopping here is unlike that in the U.S. People seem to shop for only enough to last a max of a couple of days. I think this is a combination of wanting to eat fresh, but also the most a person can carry back home or fit in their fridge, since everyone shops locally and everything is closely compacted together. As a result, they do not have shopping carts but instead have shopping baskets, which you can stack on a mini metal wheeled frame of that of a real shopping cart if you so please. Also, cashiers only offer, at most, 2 plastic bags, and you are to carry your basket to one of the counters on the side to bag your items yourself. I think this is in part why you don’t need to wait in line for that long–fewer items and self-bagging.
I rest my case. The Japanese are masters at efficiency.