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    How To Find Cheese In Japan

    By thomas | September 25, 2007

    Summer Cheese Variety SetI love cheese. I’d eat it everyday if I could. Back home, cheese was something I ate often. Not only did I eat it often, but the local grocery stores had a huge selection of different cheeses for me to devour. When I came to Japan, I found the situation to be quite different. Full of optimism, I charged into the neighborhood grocery store, hungry for cheese. Moments later I stumbled out, bewildered, my mind wrestling with the big question…

    Where’s the cheese?

    The average Japanese grocery store has about four kinds of cheese available: parmesan cheese, cream cheese, Camembert cheese and “processed” cheese. Some of the bigger stores like Jusco have a slightly larger selection, where you might find cheddar, mozzerella or pepperjack. Import food stores are also a solution. If you live in an urban area, chances are you will have a large import food store that offers a wide selection of foreign cheeses (and beer!).

    If you don’t have a good import food store near you, or you want a still larger selection of cheese, or you simply don’t want to take the trouble to get up and go to the store, don’t panic. Why not have cheese delivered directly to your door?

    ORDER-CHEESE.COM is a service that does just that. They have a large selection to choose from and they deliver quickly to your home. The price is a little high, but this is Japan. We just have to accept the fact that cheese won’t be cheap here.

    Cheese VarietiesThe site is in Japanese, but fortunately the cheese categories have English headings. Couple this with your knowledge of katakana and you should be able to find what you’re looking for in no time. To save time, you can use the search box at the top to manually search for a specific cheese. If you don’t know how to write your favorite cheese in katakana, try googling it:

    Google Search for Cheddar CheeseGoogle Results for Cheddar CheeseCheese Search Box


    Cheese TokubaiOn the left-hand side of, under the category names, you will find some items labeled “tokubai”. “Tokubai” (特売 [とくばい]) means “sale”. These cheeses are available at a discount price. Just click on the link and you will be taken to a description of the promotion (skip to the bottom for prices). Also, if you are extremely addicted to cheese, you can sign up for their newsletter and they will periodically send you discounts, two-for-one deals and such. To sign up, type your email address into the form at the bottom of the page labeled Mail Magazine (メイルマガジン [a term which incidentally came up in an interesting poll on WhatJapanThinks recently]).

    I found out about a few months ago and I’ve purchased cheese from them on four separate occasions. They deliver fast and fresh, and they have an enormous selection. Payment is flexible – you can pay by credit card, COD or convenience store ticket (my personal choice). Moreover, by using, you can earn mileage with your Northwest Airlines WorldPerks or JAL Mileage Bank. I recommend trying out their “Variety Sets” in order to sample some cheeses you may not ordinarily buy yourself.

    That’s it! If you haven’t already, please take this opportunity to subscribe to this blog’s RSS feed to keep up with the latest tips.

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    Topics: Japanese Services | 20 Comments »Trackback

    20 Responses to “How To Find Cheese In Japan”

    1. Pippo Says:
      September 29th, 2007 at 4:58 am

      My Japanese girlfriend lives in Tokyo and I live in Honolulu. She used to live with me in Honolulu too until her visa ran out, but that’s another story. Anyway, back in the day I got her hooked on real mozzarella di bufala which is available in only one location in Honolulu. When i come to visit we have to go looking for it in Tokyo, but it’s usually available in a depachika somewhere…

    2. thomas Says:
      October 2nd, 2007 at 9:00 am

      Pippo: I’ve found mozzarella in Jusco before and on the basement level of department stores like you said. has it here, although if you spend most of your Japan time in Tokyo, you can probably find everything you need easily. Out here in the boonies things are a little harder to locate.

      One cheese I still haven’t been able to find here in Japan is muenster cheese. I really liked to snack on that one at home.

    3. Justin Says:
      November 13th, 2007 at 2:31 am

      90% of Asains are lactose intolerant that is one of the main reasons that the cheeses you’d like to see are hard to find.

    4. Shari Says:
      November 15th, 2007 at 11:00 am

      If there is one in your area, one of the best places to get cheese is Hanamasa. The selection is limited but you can buy it in bulk for very reasonable prices. My husband and I pick up gouda, mozzarella, and cheddar from them. These are blocks of real cheese, not processed cheese and I believe they are all imports (the cheddar is British). At about 100 yen per 100 grams for real cheese, it’s a deal which is hard to beat if you’re trying to find good cheese on the cheap.

      They have 71 shops in Japan and locations are listed on their web site. They also carry a wide variety of other foods more cheaply than average shops including many types of meat. The ham and spicy sausage are particularly good and decent value.

      Costco is, of course, another option, and they carry a lot of varieties of cheese, but Hanamasa is more convenient for frequent purchases and has far more locations. Also, buying large blocks in bulk (you can freeze it if necessary though it messes up the texture) means you can eat it everyday. ;-)

    5. How To Find Cheese In Japan Part 2 | Says:
      November 17th, 2007 at 3:38 am

      […] How To Find Cheese In Japan […]

    6. thomas Says:
      November 19th, 2007 at 2:06 pm

      Justin: do you have a source for that statistic?

      Shari: thanks for the tip. I already put it in a post!

    7. Daily J » Topic » Connections on the J-web and some tidying Says:
      November 27th, 2007 at 4:44 pm

      […] Gaijin Tonic has a post about finding authentic western goods in Japan (at Tesco branches) <—–>NihonHacks is always looking for good tips like this (like Thomas’ post on finding cheese in Japan) […]

    8. Tori Says:
      November 28th, 2007 at 3:23 pm

      My pingback precedes me :)

      I bet you can find some of the natsukashii western foods you miss from

      they deliver goods from Costco Japan to anywhere in Japan (by Takyubin).

      Looking at the site I notice baby care products (for little Noah), Quaker Oatmeal, Tortillas!!, Beef Jerky, Polish sausage, and “hooked on phonics”?!

    9. thomas Says:
      December 1st, 2007 at 12:18 am

      @Tori: Yeah, I’ve been meaning to do theflyingpig one of these days. They are a great site, and in English too, so extremely useful for those of us who are still struggling to learn Japanese. Thanks for the tip and all of the links too :)

    10. Peter Says:
      December 11th, 2007 at 6:14 am

      To get a wider range of cheeses than in your local supermarket. Try Donkey Hotei, they have a section for cheese and Shop 99 (QQ) is expanding its cheese range

    11. Donkey Hotei Says:
      December 23rd, 2007 at 8:48 am

      Ah the wonders of katakana – that store is named after Don Quixote, I think. Ain’t got nuttin’ to do with asses.
      Cervantes is turning in his grave.

    12. The Blogs I Visit the Most, and the Blogs I Miss the Most | Jason’s Random Thoughts Says:
      December 25th, 2007 at 3:01 pm

      […] Sun, and doing a pretty good job of it, it seems. My favourite article had to be the one about finding cheese in Japan. Many foreigners have a hard time finding really good cheese in this country, and some even give […]

    13. New Year Equals Cheap Stuff: Fukubukuro | Says:
      January 1st, 2008 at 1:23 pm

      […] How To Find Cheese In Japan […]

    14. Costco Shipped To Your Door | Says:
      February 11th, 2008 at 3:10 am

      […] How To Find Cheese In Japan […]

    15. Graham Says:
      September 2nd, 2008 at 12:22 am

      National azabu has a wide selection of cheese. It also has “seriously strong cheddar”. This is the name of the winner of the gold medal at the world cheese awards 2007.
      Strange name, mass produced but a very nice mature cheddar.

    16. William MacD Says:
      September 10th, 2008 at 9:31 am

      I like The Meat Guy ( He has a good range of cheeses, he also has an amazing range of meat, including hard to find items like duck, venison, etc.

      He also has (my favourite) pies!! If you’re a thick-skinned vegetarian and can put up with his sense of humour then he has an amazing range of vegetarian stuff.

      His prices aren’t bad actually and he delivers almost anywhere in Japan. I live in the inaka and so popping down to Osaka or Tokyo to visit a big foreign goods store isn’t an option.

    17. debbie Says:
      September 14th, 2008 at 3:04 am

      My new secret – IKEA!
      I dont know if they have one in Tokyo but a new store has just opened in Osaka. After you go through the checkouts near the exit they have a deli section of imported Swedish food. There they have a delicious cheese called Wastgota kloster. It tastes similar to Jarlsberg but is much softer.
      After living in Japan for 8 months with nothing but wafer thin wedges of over priced mozarella, and cheese wrapped as candy called “cheese candy”, this Ikea cheese will satisfy you. And it was reasonably priced at 595 yen for 310 grams.

    18. Sarah Says:
      January 18th, 2010 at 4:36 am

      thank you thank you thank you! i love love love cheese and i was shocked not to find any cheese here! i have found only processed cheddar which is nice and all for a sandwich or something but there are so many other types i love. finding this blog is the best thing that has ever happened for me!

    19. thomas Says:
      January 18th, 2010 at 7:44 am

      @Sarah: My pleasure. Thanks for the kind words!

    20. lasagna « delectable delights in nihon Says:
      February 1st, 2010 at 12:51 am

      […] Nihonhacks has a great article giving you directions on how to find/order/get cheese delivered to your […]