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Primal in Japan

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  • #16
    Sounds like Japan is where the US was 30-40 years ago - plenty of refined foods, but not heavily overprocessed. Health problems that came from polishing the rice (thanks to the European importation of rice polishers in the late 1800s), but not yet the chronic & debilitating diseases we have.

    It would be interesting to hear what a very elderly Japanese would say about the diet and health of his childhood. Was rice always the centerpiece? And when did it become white? (long before even then, I would assume)
    5'4" 39yo mother to five sweeties & married to their AMAZING DaddyGrok
    Current Weight: 175lb__________________________________Goal: 135lb
    Deadlift: 240lb________________________________________Back Squat: 165lb
    Bench: 130lb__________________________________________Pre ss: 85lb
    ***Winning a 20-year war against binge eating disorder***


    • #17
      Japan certainly has its share of debilitating Western diseases. The thing is that in Japan, serious illness and disability are hidden from public view. There are a ton of disabled people who never leave their homes.
      You lousy kids! Get off my savannah!


      • #18
        Yikes, like that thread last week linking to a news article about the astonishing number of alleged Japanese 100+ year olds who actually couldn't be found, at least one of whom died some 30 years ago! Seems they weren't actually that old; it's just that nobody knew where they were, or when they died, if they had.

        I guess I'm referring to the difference between where we were 30 years ago and the crazy obesity epidemic + cancers & heart disease and such hitting very young people instead of only the old. It shouldn't even hit the old, if you eat unprocessed food, but now we're far beyond even that level of national illness.

        I would love to have had a peek into Japan 200 years ago. Such a beautiful culture, at least looking from the outside in.
        5'4" 39yo mother to five sweeties & married to their AMAZING DaddyGrok
        Current Weight: 175lb__________________________________Goal: 135lb
        Deadlift: 240lb________________________________________Back Squat: 165lb
        Bench: 130lb__________________________________________Pre ss: 85lb
        ***Winning a 20-year war against binge eating disorder***


        • #19
          200 years ago Japan was a seriously feudal society. I'm sure it was pretty awesome if you were a male with property.
          If you are new to the PB - please ignore ALL of this stuff, until you've read the book, or at least and this (personal fave):


          • #20
            LOL, just a "peek," I said!
            5'4" 39yo mother to five sweeties & married to their AMAZING DaddyGrok
            Current Weight: 175lb__________________________________Goal: 135lb
            Deadlift: 240lb________________________________________Back Squat: 165lb
            Bench: 130lb__________________________________________Pre ss: 85lb
            ***Winning a 20-year war against binge eating disorder***


            • #21
              Glad I found this thread! I am just starting off with the primal lifestyle and I am looking for some advice when it comes to buying food here. It's been really helpful, and a relief to hear that the Australian beef is mostly grass fed. I have been able to taste a difference in the beef, I was wondering what it was.
              By the way, I'm also in Kansai!


              • #22
                Originally posted by Primal K@ View Post
                I'm happy I found this thread. I'm planning a trip to Japan next spring for three weeks and I was a little concerned about what I am going to eat since rice and noodles are a large part of the diet. Wheat is also very popular. I love fish and seafood and of course beef, chicken and pork. I would assume I'd be okay with the many vegetables, but I know I'll most likely be tempted into trying many 'unprimal' things. I'll try to stick to markets as much as I can, but I like the suggestion of visiting Yakiniku. Are Yakiniku locations all across Japan? I could totally feast on meat! Cheers

                Yakitori (grilled chicken) restaurants don't serve rice with the meal. Beer is popular, of course. Yakiniku (generally, grilled beef) is plentiful.


                • #23
                  Originally posted by gn View Post
                  i wonder where, in japan or us/europe the population is more (potentially) primal-friendly in terms of being ready to accept the validity, and implement in practice, basic tenets like "grain free" existence, that is if you take either an average american or a japanese and tell him/her "from now on, thou shall not eat grains", where the incidence of "are you crazy!?"-like reaction would be higher?
                  i personally think that for a japanese ditching rice would be much more difficult and even unthinkable than for a westerner to stop eating wheat: everybody eats rice, in huge quantities, almost three times a day, and, however incredible (and sometimes frustrating))) it may be, stays extremely slim
                  So I go to this Tokyo burger chain, called Freshness Burger. I order the cheeseburger and I say hold the bread. The cook says that happens a lot for those on a "dieto."

                  I have another theory on why people here are slim. The public transportation systems are very good. So people walk a lot to get to their train and subway stations. And take a walk around the stations and you find a lot of bicycles. Cars are expensive to park in cities. I take my bike to and from work. Takes 40 minutes but very pleasant to ride around the Imperial Palace. Very clean city.

                  Another plus from a stress standpoint, there's very little crime unless you go looking for it. I lost my wallet once and it was returned the same day.

                  Counter to that, the recent reports of the missing elderly. Basically the underlying cause is the children in the 60s and 70s are collecting and cashing in the retirement and welfare funds from their parents, allegedly living in their 90s and 100s. One big cause of that, I'm told, is that due to privacy concerns, there is no social security number issued so the local governments identify these pensioners by their name and last known address. A few years ago, there as a huge scandal when the agency in charge of pensions said it couldn't track the accounts of a large segment of the population as none of it was computerized or computerized well.


                  • #24
                    I am not alone it seems, I live in Nara.

                    1) Rice is the best I've ever tasted. I was born and raised in Hawaii so I miss it with every meal and the temptations are great.
                    2) Japan makes the best breads and desserts. High-end bakeries all over the place.
                    The rice? boy am I ever sick of the damn rice! it's all the same, boring white rice - no Basmati , long grain etc just white rice and 99% of the Japanese people I speak to about primal cant quite fathom it, its like you are being sacrilegious by not eating it.
                    Whereas a Westerner might say, "I can't give up bread. I like it too much!" a Japanese would say, "I can't give up rice. I'm Japanese!" It's such a cultural thing. Suffice it to say that I got some truly incredulous looks when I declined rice at a meal.
                    Amen brother.

                    Bread? are you kidding me, the bread in Japan is horrendous! I used to love bread and going primal in Japan was easy in that respect as I had pretty much given up on the bread anyway. In the supermarket "shoku-pan" the thick, super soft ultra bleached sweet white bread - 4-6 or 8 slices to a loaf - making up 95% of available bread - no multi grain or rye etc.
                    a slice or two of cloyingly sweet thick cut white bread
                    yep, that's the stuff.
                    A few gourmet bakeries in Tokyo might have a some good bread, but 98% of Japan the bread is a travesty of the word bread.

                    The Japanese aren't fat in general, so perhaps rice at least can't be directly implicated as a cause of obesity. However, I'd be reluctant to call the majority of modern day Japanese adults "healthy". Doubly, nay, triply so for the work-a-day men here... admittedly it's a bit of a stereotype, but all too true at the same time: smoking, drinking, not sleeping, working 10+ hour days 6 days a week, no exercise, and a diet of, while perhaps not fattening, nutritionally dead white rice can't be good for one's well being.
                    The whole "meta-bo" Metabolic syndrome. phenomenon is picking up these days, when I first came here, there was no such word, now its a buzz word
                    In the time I have been here, I have noticed more and more chubby people, the % of the general population is definitely going up, though saying that there are a lot of thin people still about.

                    As for you question about the labeling/origins of food, its tough, really tough. Just got to do your best and sometimes accept whats on offer. As they say in Japan "Shouganai" - cant be helped.

                    Places to buy food.

                    Costco - in Amgasaki. Great place (relatively) for primal food. for example Nuts - 1 kg of Walnuts for a 1000 yen, big bags of raw almonds, imported meat like kiwi lamb, 2 kg of chicken breast for about 500 yen. 1kg of frozen mixed berries for about 1000yen.

                    The meat guy. get your meat delivered from the meat guy. Real meat, good stuff. Highly recommended.

                    Foreign Buyers club
                    - food delivered to your door, pricey but an option.

                    Also CO-OP supermarkets (not A-coop) the one s that have the home delivery service is quite famous for organic food, though how trustworthy I couldn't really tell you.

                    places to eat.

                    Big Boy family restaurant. All you eat salad bar (about 20 options in the selection) and decent Aussie steaks. Cheap - not flashy but primal.
                    Last edited by Valarauko; 10-22-2010, 07:14 AM.
                    Fear of the unknown...They are afraid of new ideas. they are loaded with prejudices, not based upon anything in reality, but based onÖ if something is new, I reject it immediately because itís frightening to me. What they do instead is just stay with the familiar.


                    • #25
                      Glad I found this. My work has offered me a 2 year secondment to live and work in Osaka (Kansai), I need to decide before christmas.
                      I've been primal for about 6 months in the UK where it is very easy to get everything you need, and it has been the best 6 months health wise of my life.

                      I would be looking to live in between Kobe and Osaka and commute in.

                      Is it possible to live without rice and get enough vegetables (spinach and kale are a love of mine)???


                      • #26
                        I think you will be just fine. The produce and fish here are superb. Much higher freshness and cleanliness standards than in the U.S. I have access to Greek yogurt (Fage from Greece). German bacon, Aussie and U.S. ribeye steaks, etc. I eat the local produce and it is the best.


                        • #27
                          I've been here 3 weeks now and agree the food quality is excellent, hope the radiation does not change that too much...
                          The one thing I am struggling with is lunch. Lunch seems a very social occasion and I struggle to find any dishes without rice! And don't get me started on the smoking. I will just have to start bringing my own food...


                          • #28
                            Valarauko kindly sent me to this page. It's nice to see a few more Groks in Japan. Here is where I find my stuff (I'm based in Hokkaido):

                            Meat and Fish
                            This is tough as not much is properly labelled here. Max Valu has "Green Eye" chicken with no antibiotics or hormones and it is locally produced. It even has a photo of the farmer on the package. The local CO-OP has "Michinoku" chicken which is a similar deal. Not organic but as good as you will probably find.

                            We are lucky to have Hokkaido-raised (in Biyatori-cho) wagyu. It's expensive but quite often on sale at half price if you time it well. From my research, these cows are left to graze outside in the summer and given straw in the winter. It's easy to find Aussie beef although it doesn't say much about how it is raised.

                            As Valaraoku says, Costco sometimes has kiwi lamb. They sometimes stock local fish but the vast majority is regular USA beef, origin unknown so probably not so good. The Meat Guy is a little pricey but does have an "organic section". Well worth checking out. He sometimes has wild boar and kangaroo too.

                            We're lucky enough to get wild venison here as the prefecture culls them. Delicious and wild - no hormones there! Sometimes cheap and sometimes expensive, cheaper cuts are good in stews. Search online for "Ezo Shika" in Japanese and you can find places that will deliver country wide.

                            Vegetable and fruit
                            We're lucky in Hokkaido as there is lots of local produce, especially in summer. There is a local organic movement so we are blessed with an abundance of organic food until the winter starts when it gets much more difficult. CO-OP and Max Valu sometimes stock organic vegetables, usually in a green package. Also, the prefectural homepage tells us where all the organic farms are which is well worth the search. When there isn't any organic stuff available, we just have to wash the veggies. Still go local but clean as best as possible.

                            We searched for ages to find good eggs and eventually found a local free-range farm that sells eggs directly. Not organic but the farmers produce their own feed and you can see the chickens outside pecking at insects. Much better than the white, thin-shelled eggs at the supermarket.

                            Costco is the place to go for nuts. Walnuts, pecans, raw almonds usually in stock. You can also buy lots of nuts from

                            You can find good oils in most foreign shops. There is a shop in Sapporo called Jupiter that stocks coconut, macadamia, avocado, and great olive oils. Try and for oils too.

                            It is tough in Japan but, like Grok, you just need to forage. Sometimes things can be a little expensive but well worth the cost for the benefit to health. If you're stuck for something, shoot me a PM - I can usually find most things online.

                            Grok on in Japan.
                            Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. - Ferris Bueller

                            JpGrok Journal


                            • #29
                              I'm peeking in this thread as well. I was in Japan for 3 months, traveling pretty much throughout the country, living with families, both in the countryside and in city.

                              If you eat out, it's practically impossible to avoid soy. They use soy bean oil and soy sauce (shoyu) in everything.
                              I'm starting Japanese studies in September, and will probably take one or two 6-month long stays. I think I'll be living by myself, thus cooking myself.
                              I really hope I'll be able to find good food... it's darn expensive, though.

                              Grumpy mentioned how the Japanese look at foreigners, and yes, they do indeed believe we're all overweight fat-asses. "Because we eat a lot of meat" - in their perspective, meat makes you fat, but funnily enough, fat doesn't (cooking oils, animal fats).
                              Carbs are their staple, and as already mentioned, and as all probably know, rice in particular.

                              And I agree that their bread is BORING. I remember one morning I was given an inch-thick piece of toast with some melted cheese, bell pepper and some yucky-looking (bright pink; the wrong kind) sausage. I'd usually be given rice and miso soup, which I preferred by far.
                              In Hokkaido, I actually lived with a family in the country. They grew their own foods, and they were organic. Really environmental people, concerned about Earth and nature. I really liked them...


                              • #30
                                I lived an hour outside Tokyo in 2004-2005. McD, KFC, 7-11, everywhere. Even pizza hut. The city I lived in, I swear at least 1/4maybe more of the young generation (18-24) had become either big-boned or obese. This was 6 years ago! Bad food was everywhere and it was all foreign influenced food. Yes, japanese pastries put US to shame, if not Europe. I miss them but it would kill me if I ate them again. The only thing that saved me while I was there was the constant walking I did that kept off weight but I didn't have a healthy physique then like I do now.

                                As far as meat goes, yes it will be Australian for the most part - the mad cow scare stopped the influx of cheap, tasty american meat, a blessing for them really.

                                Thin look may be in, but as someone else mentioned, thats for the Japanese. Japanese really don't have set requirements for foreigners to look anything and be anything other than exotic foreigners. As long as you act the part of a polite, but exotic, foreigner, you will do well.