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Matsuya Soy Sauce1/5
Photo: Matsuya Soy Sauce
Sano Miso2/5
Photo: Sano Miso
Nue by Totoya3/5
Photo: Nue by Totoya
Nue by Totoya4/5
Photo: Nue by Totoya
Liquor Shop Night Owl5/5
Photo: Liquor Shop Night Owl

Where to go for zero-waste grocery shopping in Tokyo

For an eco-friendly lifestyle, bring your own container to these Tokyo shops that sell by volume: soy sauce, alcohol, miso and more

By Youka Nagase
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With nearly all groceries wrapped in layers of plastic, a supermarket trip in Tokyo can be a minefield for any eco-conscious consumer. Luckily, some stores let you bring your own reusable containers and buy daily staples like rice, soy sauce and even beer by weight or volume. It’s a great way to make sure you only buy what you need so there's no food wastage. Plus, you get to reduce the need for single-use plastic bag and packaging as well.

RECOMMENDED: The best Japanese products for single living

Shop by weight

Sano Miso
Sano Miso
Photo: Sano Miso

Sano Miso Ginza

Shopping Ginza

Sano Miso has been a trusted purveyor of Japan’s favourite umami ingredient since 1934. It stocks around 45 kinds of miso, ranging from light to dark, sweet to salty. At the store, each barrel of the fermented soybean paste is even labelled with recommended uses: some are perfect for soups while others work better in pasta or fried rice. Can’t tell them apart? There are certified miso sommeliers on hand to help you decide. You can purchase as little as 100g or go full pantry prepper and get a whopping 1kg, which should last you several weeks.

Wondering what to make with miso? We have some cooking ideas for you here.

Matsuya Soy Sauce
Matsuya Soy Sauce
Photo: Matsuya Soy Sauce

Matsuya Soy Sauce

Shopping Grocery stores Ginza

No Japanese meal is complete without a dash of soy sauce, and Matsuya specialises in this ubiquitous Japanese condiment. The Ginza store offers the full range of sauce options from salty to sweet, including styles you’ve probably never tasted before. The staff will help you pick out a soy sauce based on your preference, and you can even try before you buy. There are over 80 varieties, packaged in small 100ml bottles – but you can always bring your own container and purchase by the millilitre.

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Akomeya La Kagu
Akomeya La Kagu
Photo: Akomeya

Akomeya in La Kagu

Shopping Specialist food and drink Kagurazaka

Gourmet grocery chain Akomeya specialises in the Japanese staple food – rice. At the Ginza, Kagurazaka and Shinjuku outlets, you can shop for 18 different speciality rice varieties from across Japan. Once you’ve decided on how much rice  you want, the staff will polish the grains and wrap them up neatly in a paper bag for you. The shop is also stocked with an extensive selection of condiments, pre-made food and kitchen necessities, so ask the staff for some recommendations to turn your rice into a hearty meal.

Nue by Totoya
Nue by Totoya
Photo: Nue by Totoya

Nue by Totoya

Shopping Kokubunji

Nue by Totoya is a zero waste grocer in Kokubunji selling a variety of nuts, tea, beans, chocolate, olive oil, flour and honey by weight, as well as shampoo cutlery and lifestyle goods. The owner is passionate about reducing plastic waste, so you won’t find any such packaging here. Bring your own containers or purchase the shop’s organic cotton bags, which cost between ¥200 and ¥500 depending on size.

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Liquor Shop Night Owl
Liquor Shop Night Owl
Photo: fb.com/LiquorShop.night.owl

Night Owl Liquor Shop

Bars and pubs Ebisu

Night Owl is one of the few liquor stores in Tokyo where you can purchase alcohol by volume. Take home an ever-changing range of local and international craft beers, wine, cider and kombucha in reusable growler containers. Bring your own or purchase one at the store: sizes range from 250ml to 2L. Plus, you can always sample a few brews before making a purchase. Check the website to see which drinks are on tap today.

Oil and Vinegar

Restaurants Jiyugaoka

Not only does Oil and Vinegar serve delicious Italian cuisine, it’s also stocked with some of the best quality olive oil and vinegars for purchase by the millilitre. You’ll see a lineup of at least two dozen unusual olive oils like lemon and white truffle, as well as ten kinds of vinegars – including strawberry and fig – in glass jars. Purchase bottles at the store and have them refilled with the oil and vinegar of your choice. You can even mix and match your favourite flavours to create your own dressings.

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Muji Ariake
Muji Ariake
Photo: fb.com/muji.jp

Muji Ariake

News Shopping & Style

Tokyo’s largest Muji store in Ariake has installed an entire section dedicated to pantry staples you can purchase by weight. The shelves are stocked with over 50 types of dry goods including coffee beans, nuts, pasta and chocolate. Just pick your choice of container (paper bag or jar) and once you’ve filled it up with the item you want, place it on the scale and enter the product number to print out a label with the price. You can also purchase laundry detergent for ¥70 per 100ml, and even scarves for ¥290 per 10cm.

Hacari
Hacari
Photo: fb.com/hacari.official

Hacari

Shopping Grocery stores Nakameguro

Support local farmers by purchasing your fruit and veggies at Hacari, which means ‘weighing’ in Japanese. Here you can purchase fresh produce by weight, which means you won’t have to worry about food waste when stocking up your fridge. There are also meals like potato salad and cucumber salad sold by weight, plus you’ll receive a 10% discount if you bring your own container. Don’t forget to bring your own grocery bag, too.

More to shop for

Daimaru Tokyo
Photo: Keisuke Tanigawa

Best depachika in Tokyo

Shopping Department stores

The depachika food halls at the city’s many department stores carry a plethora of delicious finds with everything from ready-to-eat food to beautifully packaged gifts

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