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Spices in Japan 2005/4/11 22:24
What spices and herbs, especially common spices and herbs in America, are hard to find/grow in Japan? I notice a lot of people complain that there is no good Mexican food in Japan...are cumin, cayenne and other mexican food spices that rare, or just not used? I am thinking of bringing some seeds for growing a little herb garden in pots in my window when I come to Japan...what would be the best to choose?

Thanks for your help!

by Seanolan  

Spices 2005/4/12 13:23

I have never found it hard to get spices in Japan. Supermarkets are well stocked, and you can always find the more obscure varieties at Halal stores or international supermarkets in Tokyo. The reason why it is hard to find good Mexican food is probably simply because it is not so popular. I don't think there is any problem with finding the spices though.
by Dave in Saitama rate this post as useful

spices 2005/6/4 04:42
I lived in Japan for awhile and there was nothing that was impossible to get except Reese's peanut butter cups. I'd think twice about taking seeds. I'm not sure it's legal.
by Mark rate this post as useful

yar 2005/6/5 01:36
Yeah. I would think seeds would be illegal to bring in. I could of course be wrong, but bringing vegetation in is illegal so why wouldnt bringing in seeds that have the potential to become vegetation. You can buy seeds for herb gardens at most garden centers. I have about a dozen and a half kinds of herbs and spices.

I think the reason there arent many good mexican places in Tokyo is that Japanese people are brought up on different food so they have different tastes and so its not uncommon to see ethnic food served in ways we wouldnt see it at home.

Examples: Seaweed on pasta, corn and mayo on Pizza, and anything that can be placed between 2 slices of bread is.

So I dont think its lack of spices that makes food different, its the fact that tastes differ culturally. But I have gotten ingredients and made various dishes just like back home including fajitas
by Kait rate this post as useful

Bon appetite! 2005/6/5 13:10
First of all, you are free to check your local embassy and bring in any legal seeds if any, but I don't think seeds are necessary either.

A wide variety of herb seeds, domestic and imported, are available at the many gardening shops or "home center" shops, and I have the impression that what isn't sold here are what can't be grown here (in means of law and climate).

However secondly, although herbs and spices are available at large supermarkets and department stores, those large supermarkets and department stores aren't available throughout Japan.

For example, I live in an area that has a reputation of being a convenient residental place, but I would usually have to drive for 30 minutes to get raw coriander, and they aren't really that cheap.

So bottom line, I would and actually do grow a herb garden at home, but I wouldn't bother to bring a bunch of seeds from overseas.

But! What I do recommend is to bring in some "blended spices." For example, in Europe and the Americas, they often have bags of spices blended perfectly to match fish and another blend to match salad, and the blend is different for each country's cousine. They make a perfect souvenior for cooking-lovers in Japan, and I always try to buy a stock for myself whenever I travel. Of course, once you get here, keep them in tight jars to protect them from the humid climate.
by Uco rate this post as useful

names of herbs in Japan 2007/4/25 09:20
I want to grow a herb garden as I am in Tohoku area of Japan and buying fresh at the store is hard to not availible.
But I do not know the names of the herbs in Japanese and of course my dictionary does not have them.

Basil, rosemary, thyme, chives, coriander, caraway, dill are just some of the ones I need. Can anyone help?

Thanks Rayanne
by rayanne rate this post as useful

Spices! 2007/4/25 11:49
This website has almost EVERY spice you ever heard of, and at the top right of almost every page on spices is a link to a list of names of the spice in other languages.


And 9 times out of 10, the name is a katakana version of the English word, unless it is a spice native to the Asian countries.

Basil - バジル
rosemary - ローズマリ
thyme - タイム
chives - アサツキ
coriander - コリアンダー
caraway - ヒメウイキョウ
dill - ディル

Hope this helps!

by seanolan rate this post as useful

fifferent 2007/4/25 15:25
That's a great link Sean.
But Caraway & Cumin are different.

In Japan is their use interchanged?
by Cobalt rate this post as useful

. 2007/4/25 18:41
Basil バジリコ、バジル
rosemary ローズマリー
thyme  タイム
chives チャイブ
coriander コリアンダー (dryseed)
香菜(シャンツァイ)or パクチー or コリアンダー (fresh)
caraway キャラウェイ
dill ディル
by . rate this post as useful

Can you find achiote anywhere? 2008/8/26 16:12
Hi, I am rather new to Japan and have been able to cook up many things but being hispanic, no matter how much I've searched. I have not been able to find achiote. If anyone knows what that is and whether I can find it anywhere in Japan, that would be marvelous!
by Nancy inHirosaki rate this post as useful

. 2008/8/26 18:17
Achiote is called "beninoki" in Japanese, but it is not known as spice in Japan.
You will find it as "anatoo-shikiso" red food colourings among the ingredients on the food labels.

According to Japanese Wikipedia, achiote is used as spice/colouring in South America as a replacement of saffron, so you might
(1) use saffron (though it might be more expensive than achiote and could be different in flavour?)
(2) bring a packet of achiote to Japan (or ask your friend/family to send it.)
by . rate this post as useful

Re: Spices in Japan 2011/11/18 09:18
FANTASTIC SITE for information about spices! I have found NOTHING like it on the Internet! FANTASTIC.

You saved my butt from searching for another 3 hours to gather all of the info I need.
by Dennis in Japan (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Spices in Japan 2011/11/18 18:05
Thanks Sean, Only thing i've been unable to find is juniper berries, tried to bring some in and they were confiscated by customs, I was informed that it,s illegal to bring seeds of any kind to Japan.
by will (guest) rate this post as useful

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