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16 Costco Items You’ll Only See in Japan

Updated: Dec. 02, 2022

Costcos in Japan offer some of your American favorites—like hot dogs and pizza at the food court—along with their own unique items.

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Courtesy Jordan Laliberte


Actually, despite the “spiced salmon caviar” label, this is technically just roe. Caviar has to come from a sturgeon. Womp. Find out which things you should never, ever buy at Costco.

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giant tubes of mayo
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Giant tubes of mayo

Think again if you thought the mayonnaise obsession was limited to middle America. At Costco in Japan, you can get a hefty two-pound tube of the good stuff, which is made with rice vinegar instead of distilled vinegar. And yes, the Kewpie on the package is supposed to look like those old Kewpie dolls. Next, check out these 25 secrets Costco employees won’t tell you.

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cod roe pasta sauce
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Cod roe pasta sauce

Kewpie isn’t the only doll getting some attention at Costco. Cod eggs are the sauce base for the Italian-Japanese fusion dish mentaiko spaghetti. As of this summer, this common item is the best-selling item at Costco.

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fried squid
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Fried squid

America has pork rinds; Japan has fried squid. It’s almost like ready-to-eat calamari. Almost. Check out these 15 secrets Costco employees won’t tell you.

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They might look like bags of hard candies, but don’t be fooled by these salty snacks. Rice crackers are roasted in soy sauce and filled with cream cheese, then wrapped up with seaweed. Post pandemic, things are changing everywhere. Here are 12 things Costco won’t sell anymore.

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salted kelp
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Salted kelp

The sea-inspired fare doesn’t stop there. Japan’s Costcos also carry bags of salted kelp, which is normally sprinkled on rice and other dishes. Don’t miss these little-known perks of a Costco membership.

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Cutlet crackers
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Cutlet crackers

“What in the world is a source cutlet?” you may ask. Likely a misspelling of “sauce cutlets.” These are neither sauce nor cutlet, but more like BBQ chips. The crackers are flavored like katsu: fried pork cutlets that are often paired with a BBQ-like sauce. Take a peek at these other features you won’t see in Costco anymore.

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ramen snacks
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Ramen snacks

This is even easier than a 15-cent just-add-water meal. Baby Star ramen snacks are fried and ready for you to rip open the bag and start munching. These snacks are cute, but not as cute as you would be in these clothes from Costco that are a ridiculously good deal.

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cat shaped pen cases
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Cat-shaped pen cases

Even office supplies get a cute twist in Japan. These ones stand up straight and come shaped like kitties or cuddly bears. Here’s what a former employee Costco employee learned about the warehouse club.

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dried mushrooms
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Dried mushrooms

Dried mushrooms look a little unappetizing (and a bit confusing), but once you rehydrate them, they add flavor and depth to your cooking. Take a look at these Kirkland items you probably shouldn’t be buying from Costco.

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dried sardines
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Dried sardines

Dried mushrooms not enough for you? These big bags of dried sardines should do the trick. You can eat the little fishies straight from the bag, candy them, or simmer them into a broth base. As strange as these finds are, a Costco membership isn’t always the dream come true it seems for everybody. In very specific circumstances, a Costco membership doesn’t pay off.

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Mochi ice cream is making an entrance in American Costcos, but Japan has the more traditional options. The sweets have the texture you’d expect from a name like mochi—sticky and chewy.

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tons of rice
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Tons of rice

Rice is a staple in Japanese cooking, so it’s no surprise that there’s an entire aisle dedicated to massive bags of the grain. Find out how to save even more money at Costco.

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These massive vegetables are in the radish family, and they’re the most popular vegetable in Japan. You can simmer ’em, pickle ’em, or just eat ’em raw, but they’re often grated raw as a condiment. Curious about what Costco looked like when it was first opened? We’ve got your answer.

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Kirkland liquor gets rave review in the States, while Japan’s Costco has its own specialty: rice wine called sake.

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electric burners
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Electric burners for barbecue

You don’t need to head to restaurants like Gyu-Kaku for a Japanese BBQ fix. Costco sells electric burners designed for gathering around the table and cooking as the meal goes on. Here in the United States, stick with these 10 Kirkland items you should always buy at Costco.