Yes, the rumors are true- Costco, the American shopping warehouse, is opening its doors in Hiroshima on Saturday March 23rd (doors open at 8am). The location is along the main road, adjacent to the Mazda Zoom Zoom stadium.
Although there are a lot of import foods that you can get in Hiroshima at Jupiter (Shareo and in the shinkansen side of Hiroshima station), Pro-Foods, Pro-Mart, Yamaya liquors, they are often out of date, not quite what you want or expensive.
Many ex-pat residents have been using online retailers of Costco goods like FBC, TheFlyingPig and YoYo market because bulk items are available, the selection is greater, and prices are more reasonable. The big difference with Costco products is that things are sold in bulk and they offer a decent “own ‘Kirkland’ brand” product range which offers decent quality at bigger savings. It is also pretty fun to walk around these huge warehouse stores googling everything stacked high up to the ceiling!
If you have never visited a Costco, there is also a lot of American style fresh produce on offer: Seasonal fruits and vegetables like American style Halloween pumpkins, seedless grapes, bagels and Costco baked goods like sheet cakes for parties, cookies and American size muffins. There are also American style appliances, towels, sheets, office supplies, gardening accessories, pet supplies and more. Cereals, snacks, peanut butter, sweets & candies, pancake mix, mexican foods, vegetarian foods, beans, soups, jams, cake mixes, fruit, vegetables, bakery goods, cheeses and meats- there are a lot of imported foods available at Costco you won’t find at your local supermarket. If your family consumes a fair amount of food, you will notice savings (or convenience) by shopping here. For example, compare a small piece of cheddar at our local for ¥400 yen to a huge cheddar block (better quality) for ¥900; a small box of cereal for ¥700 to 2 bigger boxes for ¥1,000.
Costco has a good bilingual website that gives details about membership, products, location and more. There are two kinds of memberships, one for any registered business or NPO, the other “gold star” membership is available for individuals. You have to be a member to shop at Costco and ID is checked at check-out. Membership is just under ¥4,000 for businesses and just over for individuals.
There is an “early bird” discount for Hiroshima residents who register to become members before the grand opening on March 23rd (at the Hiroshima warehouse). Pre-registration gets you ¥1,000 yen off.
There is some information about part-time and full-time hiring and recruitment on their website in English as well if you are looking for work.
When shopping at Costco, you can only use cash or two credit cards: American Express or Costco’s Mastercard (no annual fee). However, it is not yet possible to register for the Hiroshima Costco mastercard yet with Orico online, although I am sure this will be updated soon to accomodate Hiroshima customers.
Parking at Costco Hiroshima is a huge issue for customers as the store will be the only one in Japan to charge for parking and they apparently have been pressured by the city to charge crazy prices to deter people from driving and clogging up the already busy roads around the store. One hour is free as long as you spend 5,000 yen or more, the second hour is free if you spend 10,000 yen or more. But starting from the 61st minute, you will be charged an outrageous 3,000 yen per 60 minutes to use the Costco car park irregardless of game day, holiday, or time of day.
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