I have learned to live with (and sometimes love) the Japanese alternative of most things: teabags, chocolate, shampoo etc.
But there are certain English (and presumably other nationality) products which are just better than the Japanese counterpart! Mainly toothpaste, deodorant, HobNobs and face-wash. I know there are some sites out there bent on convincing would-be ex-pats into thinking that the toothpaste and deodorant problem is just a rumour... well it's not! I have not found a single brand of toothpaste which doesn't make me gag (my students use a toothpaste in a fetching gray shade...yuck), and the deodorant is like sprinkling flavoured water on yourself.
To get these home comforts, and a few other luxuries (e.g. a good, spicy curry paste) we have mainly been relying on few and far between home visits, friends and family on holiday or other ex-pats willing to bring back things when they are on a trip back.
There are however many international supermarkets in Japan; stocking everything from English biscuits to American root beer, a range of international liquor, not to mention the hundreds of things you didn't even know you missed!
|Beware: Japanese toothpaste|
Another way to get these home comforts is by ordering online.
However this can prove difficult, if not impossible for some food items. The meat guy stocks some of the things you might be craving, such as couscous and specialities like pumpkin pie to meet your thanksgiving needs (and proper size and shape steaks).
The flying pig, and yoyomarket, also stock imported food including frozen and chilled goods, as well as electrical items, books, and personal items, as does The Deli, which will also order in an extensive selection of American produce.
Finally, you can find shops outside of Japan who deliver here. This is slightly more difficult as there are, of course, customs regulations preventing the import of certain items (cheese for example, and certain medications). I have used Direct chemist in the past to purchase toiletries and vitamins (which can be incredibly expensive in Japan), and as noted in a previous article, Health Span UK and Nature's Best also ship vitamins and minerals.
If you can recommend anywhere else to buy food and toiletries online (and which deliver to Japan) please let us know in the comment box below.