Japanese Grocery Stores l Okinawa Hai!

Living off base, I pass a lot of buildings where all the signage is in kanji, so I am normally at a loss as to what they sell or provide. One of the things that I struggled with when I first arrived on island was having co-workers mention San-A and the “Bird store” as places where they shopped. I got the notion from what they talked about purchasing that these two stores were Japanese grocery stores, but I never knew what the signs or buildings looked like.

Over time, I have been to San-A, called this because the three red triangles on the yellow sign form a large “A.”

Japanese Grocery Stores l Okinawa Hai!

I have also come to recognize the “bird store” as Kanehide (pictured at the top of this article), called this because of the green and orange birds on the sign. I did not realize until recently that MaxValu is another grocery store chain; luckily, the MaxValu sign is normally in English. These stores are island-wide and are a great alternative or supplement to shopping at the commissary. 

Japanese Grocery Stores l Okinawa Hai!

Japanese Grocery Stores l Okinawa Hai!Each of these stores offers a variety of grocery items, including fresh produce and dairy items. The stores are laid out in categories, with like items all around. However, the signage in most of the stores is all in kanji. It will help to have a good idea of what you are looking for and what the packaging should look like. Most items are easy to decipher. As for payment, I have only attempted to use a credit card at San-A so I don’t know if the other stores take them as well, but it is safe to presume they all take yen. I would also recommend bringing your own bags to the stores. At San-A, they charge you three yen per bag you use.   

Some of our favorite things to purchase at San-A are the individual small jell-o’s that are perfect for kids, the coolish (ice cream in a to-go pouch), and the Pinos (bite-sized ice creams.) 

If you know of other Japanese grocery stores I have missed, or items only available at the Japanese groceries, please share.   


  1. I’ve been gone from Okinawa 38 yrs and I still miss it. I was there twice. My husband was stationed there from 1969-71 the again in 1976-78. I met some wonderful people there and I correspond with them. When I was there, there was a place called China Pete’s. Does anyone know if it’s still there? I bought some beautiful what nots from there. I used to buy my vegetables at the Black Market in Naha. Is it still there?

  2. A-Price is also good for families from the Islands and Africa, if you want goat meat or hard chicken, you can get some from there. There’s one located on the street right across from Kadena gate 5.

    PS: Does anyone know how to get to Naval Kadena?

    • Lucy, Naval Kadena is out Kadena Gate 1. Take a right out of Gate 1. Go to the 3rd traffic light and turn left. Naval Kadena shopping complex is behind the Lawson’s and KFC. Kanehide grocery store, Tabata home store, a 100 yen store, some clothing stores and misc other stores are located in this shopping center.

  3. Hello I’m new and live on base in Kadena. We only have one car and the only grocery store/farmer’s market we know of closes at 7, and my husband doesn’t get home until 6:45 most nights. Are there any other grocery stores close by that are opened longer? I’d really prefer to purchase my produce off base.

    • SommerJ, there are many grocery stores with later hours located around the gates of Kadena. There are several Kanehide stores out Gate 1. There is a large San A out Gate 2. There are store tucked in little spots everywhere, lol! To get to a Kanehide you can take a right out of Kadena Gate 1 and go down to the 3rd traffic light and take a left. Kanehide is located in the shopping complex behind the KFC and Lawson. If you want to try San A, you can exit gate 2 and go down to 330. Take a right on 330 and get into the left hand lane. There will be a large San A with a McDonald’s in it on your left. FYI-Kanehide has a green/white sign with orange birds on it and San A has a yellow sign with three A’s on it. Hope that helps!

    • I lived in Okinawa for 10 years, always shopped at Dai_naha. It’s easier if you take a taxi, they know the roads. ,I miss Oki very much, never wanted to leave. There’s also kokusai dori, good to get fresh meat and pork. Try the baby clams, they’re Delicious in miso soup. Good luck

  4. There is also

    DIREX ( Check for the Red Signboard “D!” D!REX)
    quite cheap, has drugs, beverage, foods, snacks, electronics,etc
    In Okinawa City/Uruma (Maehara) there is one on the 33 a bit after Aeon/ Yamada Denki on the right side of the street.
    – and another is one on the other side of Sun-A Maincity (Route 85 / Route 75 )

    THE BIG EXPRESS ( very cheap for Vegetables, kind of the cheap version of Aeon ) there is one in Nishihara ( Okinawa City down to Yonabaru Route 329 unil you see the big Sun-A Maincity before go right to Route 38 after 100m right )
    another one is in Ginowan on the 58 Bypass Route, just in front of the new Mega Donkihotte

    Some others ( Ryuobo etc ) are in Naha / Tomigusuku Area.

  5. San-A, which means three A, takes dollars. At least the one at main place does. Other great items are instant yakisoba, frozen gyoza and super cheap oki soba makings. And instant curry!

    If its you’re first time, some places will make you bag your own groceries on a little table beyond where you pay. It caught me off guard the first time. Haha

  6. Fun to know: Most of these stores have freshly cooked items (tempura, gyoza, katsu, sushi, etc.) and they have a bigger variety than usual on sundays! We love to go to Maxvalue, grab a bunch of fried food and bring it home for lunch or dinner! Oh and i always grab sashimi there! Super cheap too!

  7. Do you know about the San-A card that you can collect points every time you shop at any San-A facility including other stores inside the Main City, Main Place or Convention City Mall? You earn one point for every 200 yen spent. Once you get 10,000 point, you can go to Customer Service and claim a 1,000 Yen gift certificate.

    Also for Max Value or Aeon shoppers, you can get a WAON-WAON store card (baby blue color with a white puppy on it) for 300 Yen but card holder will get 5% discount shopping inside the store on the 20th and the 30th using that card. You can also use it like a metro card to pay for drinks at some of the vending machine and at Family Mart.