How And Where to Buy Cigarettes in Japan

Smoking is a common and popular habit in Japan and cigarettes are rather easy to purchase. The legal smoking age is 20 although many start smoking in their younger years.

A few ways to purchase cigarettes in Japan are as such-

Vending Machine

Vending machines now require a TASPO card which you have to be a resident in Japan to aquire. This card is to certify that you are of age to purchase and smoke cigarettes. All cigarette vending machines are now equipped with the TASPO card function.

An example of the taspo card.

The next way is to purchase from a convenience store like lawson, family mart or 7/11.

Most convenience stores sell cigarettes that they label by the number. It may be a little difficult for non-Japanese speaking people to buy cigarettes over the counter, however the cigarettes are usually displayed in a wide array where the customer is able to just point.

The last way is to buy through a cigarette vendor. They carry a large variety of cigarettes, even some uncommon/rare brands that most people do not smoke.

They are usually ran by traditional Japanese people that don’t understand much English. However these stores usually give out goodies like specific lighters, keychains and such when purchasing their cigarettes. Think of it as a GWP (Gift with Purchase).

MacDonald selling Potato ?


There isn’t anything called “french fries” in Japan’s MacDonalds menus. Instead you will find a word “ポテト”, which is a direct english translation for the word “Potato”. Perhaps because they have difficulties translating it into hiragana. Japanese has weak tolerance against spicyness and that explains why they only serve ketchup without chilli. As I don’t really fancy ketchup, I have been eating MacDonalds without any sauce since I arrived in Japan 2 years ago….


Luckily, we still use the word “french fries” for french fries. The only difference is the kind of sauce we have in Singapore. As compared to Japan, Singapore’s MacDonalds does provides a great varieties of sauce, e.g ketchup, chilli sauce, sweet chilli sauce ….

Shabu Shabu (しゃぶしゃぶ) at Osaka

Shabu shabu (しゃぶしゃぶ)is a variant of Japanese-style hot pot, which are available all year round, though it is eaten mostly during winter times to keep away the coldness. Most of these restaurants operates like buffet, houdai (放題) which allows you to have free flow of ingredients for 90 mins or 2 hours, depending on the restuarant itself. In addition, they also have a la carte menus which can be included in the buffet course, of course at additional charges.

There are many style of soup base available and the one shown below is so-called yin-yang pot, where one is spicy while the other is just plain chicken stock.

Let’s introduce the ingredients used… Usually thin slices of meat and veggies varieties. You can try all the veggies into the pot at first as it takes a longer time to cook. As for the meat, after the soup start boiling, dip the meat until medium rare and it is ready to be eaten, (not true for chicken meat though). It is quite a Japanese culture to eat a half-cooked meat and so don’t be surprised by that !

Oh, nearly forgot about it. You need to dip it in sauces, called tare (たれ), which would make the food much more tastier. Usually used are gomatare (ゴマたれ), which is sesame sauce or ponzu (ポン酢), orange juices with vinegar. (Sorry, I will make up the photos for the sauces again.)

To prove that it is delicious, look at the mess we made in the restaurant ! Well, there are 2-3 big eaters around, and the waitress make it in time to do the clean up.

My First Home-cooked Meal as a Student in Japan

Though living in Japan, the cheapest way to settle a meal is to make one by yourself, but as you know, guys are lazy to run errands and do the cooking. Especially washing dishes. I am a guy who likes “challenges” thus i have tried to make my own dinner, in the first week I arrived in Osaka.

Scrambled egg with onions. Actually it is supposed to look like a pancake-shape, but I messed it up.

Kinou with butter (Straw Mushrooms). Too salty…

Ok, I admitted it.. Donkatsu (Japanese-style fried chicken). Bought it at 7-11.

Well, that is my dinner. I did the cooking and shared it with my sister. Saying that it is not bad for first-timer, but that was the first and the last time I cooked in that month…