Trying to read Japanese signs in a Japanese supermarket / grocery store can be daunting. No matter how much you study Japanese or what books you buy, sometimes you can’t truly be prepared until you’re there.
For me, it was always inconvenient looking for things because I couldn’t read some of the signs above each aisle. Well, I went out and took photos of each sign above every aisle in an effort to help others be able to read Japanese signs in supermarkets. Check out each of the signs with Japanese readings of the kanji and translations!
Japanese signs in aisles at supermarkets
Not all Japanese grocery stores or Japanese supermarkets are the same, so there will probably be different words and signs used all over the country. However, I think these are general enough that it should be fine for most people.
The aisle signs were taken at MaxValu, a popular supermarket chain in Japan. They’re just about in every prefecture, so there’s a good chance you can find one wherever you are.
I’ve also written out all the items on the signs in their original Japanese text, so you can feel free to copy and paste if you want to look the words up yourself or anything like that.
Okay, so let’s start with the aisles that are most towards the entrance of the store.
歯磨き粉・歯ブラシ hamigakiko (Tooth Paste) / haburashi (tooth brushes)
ベビーおむつ・フード Bebi-omutsu (Baby Diapers) / fu-do (Baby Food)
生理用品 seiriyouhin (Feminine Hygiene Products)
男性用化粧品 danseiyoukeshouhin (Men’s Cosmetics)
ペットフード・文具 pettofu-do (Pet Food) / bungu (Stationery)
ティッシュ・トイレットペーパー tisshu (Facial Tissues) / toirettope-pa- (Toilet Paper)
シャンプー・リンス shanpu- (Shampoo) / rinsu (Conditioner)
ボディソープ bodiso-pu (Body Wash)
衣料洗剤 iryousenzai (Clothing Detergent)
芳香剤・消臭剤 houkouzai (Air Freshener) / shoushuuzai (Deodorizers)
防虫剤・殺虫剤 bouchuuzai (Bug Repellent) / satsuchuuzai (Insecticides)
特価催事 tokkasaiji (Themed Products)
米 kome (Rice)
食器用洗剤 shokkiyousenzai (Dishwashing Detergent)
ラップ・アルミホイル rappu (Plastic Wrap) / arumifoiru (Aluminum foil)
ゴミ袋 gomibukuro (Trash bags)
ガム gamu (Chewing Gum)
キャンディ・グミ kyandi (Candy) / gumi (Gummy snacks)
チョコレート chokore-to (Chocolate)
駄菓子・玩具菓子 dagashi (Cheap sweets) / omochakashi (Toy snacks)
ワイン wain (Wine)
ウイスキー uisuki- (Whiskey)
清酒 seishu (Refined Sake)
ビール類 bi-rurui (Beer)
焼酎 shochuu (Japanese liquor)
梅酒 umeshu (sake with plums)
茶飲料・水 chainryou (Teas) / mizu (water)
野菜飲料 yasaiinryou (Vegetable Drinks)
ビール類 bi-rurui (Beer)
チューハイ chu-hai (Japanese liquor drinks, usually with flavors)
ペットボトル飲料 pettobottoruinryou (plastic bottled drinks)
缶飲料 kaninryou (canned drinks)
These are the aisles that are towards the back of the store.
つゆ・だし tsuyu (broth) / dashi (Japanese soup stock)
味噌・醤油 miso (Bean paste) / shoyuu (Soy sauce)
砂糖・塩 satou (Sugar) / shio (Salt)
酢・みりん su (Vinegar) / mirin (Sweet sake used in cooking)
乾物 hoshimono (dried fish)
豆・ごま mame (Beans) / goma (sesame seeds)
のり・ふりかけ nori (edible seaweed) / furikake (dried tiny bits of food sprinkled over rice)
味噌汁・スープ misoshiru (Miso Soup) / su-pu (Soup)
マヨネーズ・ドレッシング mayone-zu (Mayonnaise) / doresshingu (Dressing)
スパイス supaisu (Spices)
カレー・シチュー kare- (Curry)/ shichu- (Stew)
ソース・ケチャップ so-su (Sauces) / kechappu (Ketchup)
パスタ pasuta (Pasta)
食用油 shokuyouabura (Cooking Oil)
小麦粉・パン粉 komugiko (Wheat Flour) / panko (Bread Flour)
缶詰・瓶詰 kanzume (Canned Goods) / binzume (Bottled goods)
カップ麺 kappumen (Cup Noodles)
インスタント袋麺 insutantofukuromen (Instant noodles)
レンジご飯 renjigohan (Microwavable Rice)
餅 mochi (sticky rice cakes)
スナック菓子 sunakkugashi (Salty Snacks)
徳用菓子 tokuyougashi (Bulk snacks)
米菓・半生菓子 beika (Rice Crackers) / hannamagashi (Usually Japanese sweets )
ベビー菓子 bebi-gashi (Tiny confectionery)
珍味・豆菓子 chinmi (Delicacy) / mamegashi (Bean-based confectionery)
日本茶 nihoncha (Japanese Tea)
コーヒー・ココア ko-hi- (Coffee) / kokoa (Cocoa)
紅茶・シリアル koucha (Black Tea) / shiriaru (Cereal)
ジャム・ハチミツ jamu (Jam) / hachimitsu (Honey)
フルーツ缶・製菓材料 furu-tsukan (Canned Fruit) / seikazairyou (Confectionery ingredients)
冷凍食品 reitoushokuhin (Frozen Foods)
アイスクリーム aisukuri-mu (Ice Cream)
たまご tamago (Eggs)
Learn to read Japanese signs in supermarkets -Final Thoughts
I hope these Japanese signs from the aisles in the supermarket can be of use when you find yourself grocery shopping in Japan. Even if you don’t go to one, it might help to know some of this vocabulary.
2 thoughts on “Learn to read Japanese signs at supermarkets”
Awesome content as per usual! — I seen your video about the JLPT and good resources for it, it certainly helped a lot. I’ll be preparing for the N5 so I bought an N5 book called “TRY! 日本語能力試験 N5 文法から伸ばす日本語” — I know a lot of people say “Oh, but anything below N3 is useless” but I think it’s all down to opinion. N3, N2 and N1 would look amazing on a CV but wouldn’t N5, N4, N3, N2 & N1 look even better? looking forward to your reply 🙂 thanks!
Hello Alan! If you’ve never taken the JLPT before, N5 is great for learning the format of the test and giving you motivation to go further.
I started with N4 and worked my way up to N1. Depending on where you are applying with your CV, it would be sort of neat to have all of the N levels, but realistically you only need to put the most current level you passed.
I think the Try series is pretty good and I hope you’ll get a lot of it!
Feel free to keep me updated on your progress. Cheers! 🙂