Hiroshima Costco opened at the end of March, 2013 and is located next to the Hiroshima baseball stadium, 10 minutes walk from the Hiroshima station. This members-only international wholesale warehouse chain first started in the US in 1976 as the Price Club for businesses only. It now has over 600 stores worldwide and 15 in Japan. The first Costco opened in Japan in 1999 in Hisayama, Fukuoka. To use the club, you have to pay an annual membership fee of ¥4,200 for a regular “gold star membership” which is the standard membership for an individual or family (up to 2 people in a family can have cards on this type of account). Or ¥3,675 for a business membership for licensed businesses, NPO’s or government organisations (up to 5 people can get their own card under this type of membership).
Many of the staff speak English and have lived and worked abroad before coming to work at this Costco, it has a good reputation for taking care of its employees. Many of the products are imported from abroad, but there seems to be a fair amount of products from Japan and Asia as well. Most of the products are sold in bulk to increase savings. The warehouse, bulk sale concept was originally intended for businesses, but has been popular with home consumers as well, especially with large families. Costco offers a great, money back guarantee on all products and services- you can return any item for a full refund or have your membership fee refunded at any time if dissatisfied.
Products I’ve seen available at the Hiroshima Costco include clothing (jeans, t-shirts, underwear, crocs, princess dresses, etc.), toys, sporting goods, garden, storage and play equipment (including BBQ sets, large storage units, garden and patio furniture, huge pools and a playground), electronics (televisions, home appliances, game consoles), kitchen necessities (bowls, cups, utensils, etc), office supplies, health & beauty supplies, photo printing, hearing aides & optical (including free eye exams and consults) and a Pharmacy. In the food sections, there is a huge section for the bakery : large selection of white breads, bagels, rolls, cakes, pies, muffins, cookies and personalised birthday cakes too (if you order in advance).
The “Deli” section has ready-cooked foods like ready for oven (large) pizzas, roasted chickens and other meat dishes, platters of sushi and other seasonal offerings. There is a large meat selection as well as a huge variety of cheeses hard & soft, imported and domestic. The freezer section has easy heat meals from America and Asia as well as frozen fruit and vegetables. Fresh fruit available changes regularly but included seedless grapes, mangos, bananas, kiwis, avocados, apples, etc on my last visit. The fresh produce also includes many great bargains for veggie lovers- mixed salads, baby carrots, bell peppers, brussel sprouts, asparagus, zucchini, berries and other hard to find in Japan items are available for great prices. Many fresh fruit and veg items are heavily discounted for quick sale for example I got a huge bundle of asparagus for under ¥100, ready to cook bag of brussel sprouts for ¥150, pack of 3 romaine lettuce for under ¥100, large box of Hiroshima grown baby leaf greens for ¥400). There are also domestic eggs, milk and yoghurt available. There is also a huge selection of dried and canned goods to stock your kitchen with- both of Japanese, Asian origin as well as imported varieties. Wine and alcohol section is also well stocked with a good selection.
There is a tire center on the 2nd floor and a food court on the 1st floor. The food at the food court is very cheap and there is a limited (junk food) menu of hot dogs, slices of pizza (or whole), sodas (or tea), pineapple smoothie and ice-creams. Your whole family could eat here for under ¥1,000 and it tastes good, but won’t do your waistline or cholesterol any favors to eat here often.
Some argue that the popularity of Costco which brings cheap and easy access to so much red meat, dairy and snacks in bulk (not to mention the junk food court) is a bad thing for the Hiroshima community. But I’ve found that there are good, healthy options available if you want them as well. As a vegetarian family, we are able to stock up on a good selection of nuts, canned and frozen fruits and vegetables, healthy granolas, cereals as well as the many hard to find fresh fruits and vegetables available that normally are in limited quantity and variety at much higher prices.
Of course, it would be great if they bring in more whole wheat or whole grain options in the bakery and more vegetarian options in the deli and frozen section to have more of a balance. It would be an improvement to have salads (or even a salad bar) in the food court since they have all the great fixings readily available inside. However, if you are desperate to give your family meal some balance, but still want to eat at the food court, you can buy some ready-made salad, fruit and baby carrots in the produce section to eat in the food court with your pizzas and hot dogs (there are forks & napkins available so it’s not such a big hassle).
If you use the Costco parking, it is easy to take your shopping cart right up to your car so you don’t need shopping bags unless you want them. You can bring your own, use the boxes available at the register or buy and use the insulated Costco shopping bags are available (near the optical section) for ¥600.
Hours: Costco is open every day from 8am to 8pm. Tel: 082-890-0877 Address: 2-3-4 Minami-Kaniya Minami-ku, Hiroshima City, Hiroshima 732-0803 Payment: AMEX or Costco credit card or CASH payments only. There is an ATM near the check out area (in front of the toilets). You can register for a Costco Mastercard on site.
Parking is available on two levels and parking charges is scheduled to start on Saturday, March 30th, 2013 as follows:
Costco Members ＊Non Baseball game day: Member with the same day’s receipt: Free of charge up to 3 hours. (Parking fee applies over 3 hours.￥300/20min). Requires the same day’s receipt for parking fee reduction. (Food Court receipt is not applicable.) ＊Baseball game day : Member with the same day’s receipt: Free of charge up to 2 hours. (Parking fee applies over 2 hours.￥1,000/20min) Requires the same day’s receipt for parking fee reduction. (Food Court receipt is not applicable.) – Please note that the same day’s receipt is required for parking fee reduction.
Non Members ￥1,000/20min. (7 days a week)
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