How to find a turkey in Japan
For the first couple of Thanksgivings and Christmases it didn’t even occur to me to miss turkey. All of a sudden, about a week before my third Christmas here, I felt I had to roast a turkey. Since rarely went out of my way to get food that wasn’t sold in the local supermarket, I had no idea where to look. I was in Shinjuku that evening so I decided to pop into the basement of Isetan and check out the meat shop. I was lucky. They happened to have these tiny one and two kilogram turkeys for 3500 yen and 5000 yen respectively. They were imported from France. Not knowing where else to look, I bought one of the little ones and took it home. It was the best turkey I had ever had and worth the price. Thanksgiving the next year was a bit more of a challenge because turkeys aren’t hard to find around American Thanksgiving Day in November but Canadian Thanksgiving Day is a full month earlier. Luckily Nissin had one the right size.
The next Christmas I happened upon one in the supermarket in the Meguro station the day before I was going to go off in search of one. Lucky. Eventually I learned about The Meat Guy and that solved all of my problems. You can order a couple months in advance and have it delivered the day you would have taken it out of the freezer so you don’t have to worry about freezer space.
Where to find turkeys in Tokyo *updated*
- Nissin has turkeys year round from 3-4lbs to the huge 20+lbs
- National Azabu had turkeys before it shut down. They should have them again now.
- Meat counters of large upscale department stores – only around Christmas
- Some upscale supermarkets will carry them at Christmas time – ask at the meat department.
- A friend buys her Christmas turkey from her local Hanamasa (website: Japanese language only) but I have never seen one at the ones I’ve visited so you would have to ask. Ask for ターキー(taakii) not 七面鳥 (shichimenchou) as many people associate the roasted bird with the English word and the live bird in the wild with the Japanese word.
- Costco - you can actually call and ask them before you make the trip out
On the internet *updated*
- The Meat Guy – they have them in stock by American Thanksgiving. Last year they didn’t have small ones in Octobter so I ordered from Rakuten
- Amazon Japan – they have a few different sizes of turkeys in stock now
- Yoyo Market - thanks Ashley!
- Rakuten – they have a similar selection to the above two
- Foreign Buyers Club
Note: if you have an average sized microwave/oven you will probably want to go for a 1-2kg bird but be sure to measure the inside of your oven to check. I now have a 30L oven and find a 5kg is a great size.