Supermarkets vs. Convenience Stores: Unveiling the Best Selection of Prepared Food in Japan

Japan is renowned for its culinary culture, and this extends beyond traditional restaurants to the prepared food offerings in supermarkets and convenience stores. These establishments provide a wide array of ready-to-eat meals, snacks, and beverages, making them a popular choice for locals and tourists alike. But which offers the better selection? Let’s delve into the world of Japanese prepared food in supermarkets versus convenience stores.

Understanding the Basics

Before we compare the two, it’s important to understand what each establishment offers. Supermarkets in Japan, much like those in other countries, are large stores that sell a wide variety of food and household items. They often have sections dedicated to prepared foods, including sushi, bento boxes, and salads.

Convenience stores, on the other hand, are smaller stores that are open 24/7. They offer a range of products, from snacks and drinks to magazines and toiletries. In Japan, convenience stores, or “konbini,” also have a significant selection of prepared foods.

Selection of Prepared Food

When it comes to the selection of prepared food, both supermarkets and convenience stores in Japan offer a wide variety. However, there are some differences.

  • Supermarkets typically have a larger selection of prepared foods. This includes a wider variety of sushi, sashimi, and bento boxes. They also often have a deli section where you can purchase freshly made sandwiches and salads.

  • Convenience stores, while having a smaller selection, are known for their quality. The prepared foods at konbini are often made fresh daily and are surprisingly high-quality considering their low price. They offer a range of options, from rice balls and sandwiches to pasta dishes and desserts.

Quality and Freshness

Both supermarkets and convenience stores in Japan take the quality and freshness of their prepared foods seriously. Supermarkets often have in-store kitchens where the food is prepared daily. Similarly, convenience stores receive fresh deliveries each day.

Price Comparison

Generally, the prices of prepared foods in supermarkets and convenience stores are quite comparable. However, supermarkets may offer better deals on certain items, especially if you go later in the day when some items are discounted.


In conclusion, both supermarkets and convenience stores in Japan offer a great selection of prepared food. The choice between the two often comes down to personal preference, convenience, and what specific items you’re looking for. Whether you’re a local or a tourist, exploring the prepared food sections of both supermarkets and convenience stores can be a culinary adventure in itself.