Skip to content
Home » Why I Dislike Japanese Supermarkets

Why I Dislike Japanese Supermarkets

Japanese Supermarket Shopping experience

Japanese supermarkets are renowned for their efficiency, cleanliness, and vast array of products. However, despite their many conveniences, there’s one aspect of these establishments that often leaves me feeling uneasy: the music and lighting, the small baskets that fit hardly any food items and the long que of people at the checkout.

As I step into a Japanese supermarket, I’m immediately bombarded by a cacophony of sounds and bright lights. The upbeat, often synthesized music blares through the speakers, creating a sense of urgency and frenzy. Combined with the harsh fluorescent lighting, the atmosphere feels more like a nightclub than a place to shop for groceries.

For many people, may find this energetic ambiance invigorating, but for me, it’s overwhelming and disorienting. Instead of feeling relaxed and focused on my shopping, I find myself rushing through the aisles, trying to escape the sensory overload.

Furthermore, the music and lighting seem to serve a commercial purpose rather than enhancing the shopping experience. The constant stimulation encourages impulse buying and distracts customers from carefully considering their purchases.

One particular example is the music bashing from the Boombox ontop of the mountain of fish ” Fish for sale area” with music playing loudly like

” sakana sakana sakana, sakana mo taberu to, sakana sakana sakana, atama, atama,atama, atama ga yoku naru”

「魚 魚 魚、魚も食べると、魚 魚 魚、頭 頭 頭、頭が良くなる」

It’s no coincidence that the checkout counters are strategically located near the exit, ensuring that customers pass by tempting displays of snacks and other items on their way out. Although this is common in western countries, in Japan one needs to follow a strict form from placing items to packing the items and returning the carry bag.

Well of course this is Japan and law and order are the mainstay here!

Doing this occasionally would be fine however if one goes shopping every day the relentless barrage of sound and light can be exhausting, especially for those who are sensitive to sensory stimuli or prone to anxiety. For individuals with sensory processing disorders or neurodivergent conditions, shopping in such an environment can be a deeply unpleasant experience, if not outright distressing.

I guess japanese just love the Disneyland type of atmosphere that makes shopping an experience like no other!

In contrast, I find solace in quieter, more subdued environments where I can take my time browsing and making thoughtful choices. Unfortunately, Japanese supermarkets seem to prioritize creating a lively atmosphere over catering to the needs of all their customers.

Of course, not all Japanese supermarkets are alike, and there are exceptions to this trend. Some smaller, locally-owned stores may offer a more tranquil shopping experience, free from the sensory bombardment of larger chains.

Also the Japanese Konbini offer a more convenient way of shopping when you want to buy small items and although busy the process is quite fast. One advantage of Japan is that ready made meals are easy and accessible. A bento box or salad from a konbini can be quite affordable.

of course I still love shopping at supermarkets in Japan as they offer and experience that is unique and at times bizzare.