If you come from a land where good cheese is just as common as good bread, you were probably at least somewhat disappointed to find out that just isn’t the case in Japan. I know I was.
Sure, you can find some cheese at your local supermarket, but it’s typically a small portion and expensive. Moreover, it’s almost always some kind of mozzarella blend. Or bland slices of tokeru (melty) cheese.
Just like when we asked with cereal—where is the good stuff? Shropshire blue, halloumi, real cheddar! If you’re always on the hunt like me, you’ve come to the right place because we will run through the best ways to get your hands on some real cheese here in Japan.
Supermarkets and chain stores
The fancier the supermarket, the more luck you’ll get with foreign cheeses. Regular supermarkets like Maruetsu will have a small selection, whereas upmarket shops like York Benimaru (with shops from Ibaraki to Yamagata) will have a few more to choose from. Many have online stores for delivery throughout Japan, but their selection of cheese is usually larger on site.
You can even find good old British Wyke cheddar at some Niku no Hanamasa stores. Fellow Brits, rejoice!
However, prices and sizes can still vary between stores. While you can get a 200-gram block of Wyke mature cheddar for ¥398 from Niku no Hanamasa, a mini wheel of camembert at Seijo Ishii online will cost ¥755 plus postage for only 125 grams. So, be prepared to open the purse strings a little.
Your best bet for finding good cheese is with these stores:
- Niku no Hanamasa (No delivery, stores throughout Kanto)
- Kaldi (Some delivery online, more in their stores throughout Japan)
- Seijo Ishii (Nationwide delivery available online)
- National Azabu (Nationwide delivery available online)
- Costco (No cheese available for delivery, stores throughout Japan)
Local specialty stores
If you’re lucky enough to have a specialty cheese shop nearby, better options are available. You’ll likely have the most luck in Hokkaido, well-known for its delicious cheese, but a few more are dotted around the country.
If you want to search nearby in Japanese, try searching for a chizu senmonten, or cheese specialty shop (“チーズ専門店). These might sell locally-made cheese or import wider varieties than you can find at Kaldi.
Here are a few shops dotted around Japan selling locally made cheese:
- Avis (Nagano): Goat’s and cow’s cheese made in the mountains of Nagano (available for delivery by phone or fax)
- Kyodo Gakusha (Hokkaido): Hokkaido cheese with their award-winning sakura flavor (no delivery, but available at stores throughout Japan)
- Copain de Fromage (Wakayama): The first Wakayama natural cheese shop (delivery is currently unavailable, check their Facebook page for updates)
- Mirasaka Fromage (Hiroshima): A Japanese take on great cheeses, like their “sakuramochi chevre” (delivers nationwide as cheese batches become available)
Shipping delicate cheese across Japan’s often humid land requires careful packaging and refrigerated shipping.
And here are a few more around the country that don’t make their own, but sell some great imported and foreign cheese:
- La Mariniere (Ibaraki)
- J&Y Cheese Shop (Niigata)
- Cheese & Wine Abe (Akita)
- Artigiano Cheese (Himeji, Delivery nationwide)
- Fromagerie au Gourmand (Fukuoka, Delivery nationwide)
The easiest place to get good cheese is to buy it online. With all the brie and camembert you could want at your fingertips, who wouldn’t want a cheese delivery without having to leave the house?
The only issue with online is that no matter where you get it from, the delivery will cost you. Shipping delicate cheese across Japan’s often humid land requires careful packaging and refrigerated shipping. But it’s worth it if I can have some truffle gouda with a glass of wine when I’m feeling fancy.
- Order Cheese: Huge selections of cheese, tasting sets, and wine pairings
- The Cheese Guy in Okinawa: A Brit making great cheese in Nanjo
- I Love Cheese: An aptly named cheese-loving site also selling cheese-making kits, crackers, and sourdough bread
- The Meat Guy: A small selection of specialty cheeses that come and go
- The Flying Pig: An online import store that’s been around for years
- Amazon Fresh: The easiest option, but doesn’t necessarily have everything
If you’re in Tokyo, you’re probably the luckiest of us when it comes to cheese. You can easily find import supermarkets like Kaldi and Seijo Ishii. Still, you’ll also be able to find a variety of smaller cheese specialty shops.
Here are some of the places people often talk about in Tokyo to get cheese:
- Fermier: A cute shop selling national and international cheeses
- Cheese Oukoku: Huge varieties of cheese in Ginza
- Fior di Maso: Specializes in Italian cheese, with a cheese cavern and great wine
- Cheese on the Table: A small chain with a great selection from Europe
- Cheese Stand: A cheese café with cheese tasting platters, pizza, and wine
People always ask me, what do I miss about living in the UK? Honestly, one of the first things I say is good cheese. But now I guess I have no excuse to say that with all these brilliant cheese shops to choose from!
Do you have a favorite cheese spot in Japan that we’ve missed? Share it with the GaijinPot community in the comments below.