Grocery Shopping in Japan

Some quick notes:

  • Fruit is expensive

  • Microwave popcorn does not exist (in my experience)

  • Be very cautious when using Google Translate’s photo translation feature

  • Learning katakana, or the alphabet Japanese uses to spell out foreign words, will save you time

“Well... that doesn’t smell right.”

I mumbled this to myself after I poured what I thought was laundry detergent into the washing machine. Unbeknownst to me, it was bleach. You may be wondering how one confuses detergent for beach, the answer comes from the 3rd bullet point above.

I was shopping for laundry detergent at the Seiyu near my share house and there was an aisle with a wall of what looked like cleaning supplies. But I wanted to double check, so I used my Google Translate app to take a picture and translate the characters on the bag. Google came up with “Laundry Soap.” Which sounded a lot like a literal translation of detergent to me.

Yeah… I was super wrong. It was bleach. Let this story serve as a warning not to cheat the translation process. In a much less damaging - but equally confusing - situation, I bought grapefruit juice assuming it was orange juice.

Photo cred link:  here

Photo cred link: here

Grocery shopping is a confusing experience in a foreign country, but if you go in with some pre-researched translations of the important items you need (or pictures from Google if all else fails), you can easily avoid the bleach and grapefruit juice.

- Tabitha