I'm sorry. I love Costco. This article is a bit long, but if you're really into Costco you'll find it interesting.
We had to buy a TV, so the first place we could think of was Costco. However, we were a bit lazy and went to Bic Camera first, but those retail prices scared us off. Costco Japan is the typical American Costco experience with an internationalized Japanese twist. ADVERTISEMENT: If you're a Costco member, your membership is by default, international. And, Coscto membership in Japan is slightly cheaper than the US. However the exchange rate these days, has changed that fact.
TVs in Japan are just more expensive. You definitely can't find a Black Friday deal in Japan for a 42" TV at $700. Believe me, I looked. According to Diana's co-worker, Japan electronics companies are able to use some patent infringement lawsuits to stop cheaper competitors like Vizio (and other China brands) from infiltrating their high margin market.
We stopped by this Costco for the purposes of buying a cheap TV, since we have to sell it in 2 years when we leave JP. We came out with a Toshiba LCD TV and more, as usual. We arrived later in the evening to have dinner, since it's only a Costco experience when you have a hot dog and a slice of Costco pizza. So, here's the menu (click to enlarge)…
Diana had the hot dog (kosher, of course) and a pizza slize. I had to try everything, so a pizza slice, bulgogi bake and clam chowder. I thought the clam chowder was a great item. There's so much cheap seafood in Japan, that it really made good sense to have a good American-style clam chowder on the menu. This clam chowder was especially good for the price. The clams inside were the local small Japan clams, which I believe that it has more flavor and better texture. Standard American clam chowder uses larger clams which are chopped into smaller pieces, which I think can taste a bit rubbery and flavorless.
Japanese people love their beef, so the bulgogi bake is a much more popular seller than the typical chicken bake. I have to say that it was excellent. It was a symphony of flavors. The meat and cheese harmony reminded me of the In-and-Out double double (I'm also stealing some of Maggie's words for this… I mean, credit to Maggie. haha). Cheese in Japan is very light flavored. Which means that any cheese almost always has a consistency and taste like mozzarella. One of the people we met, said his Japanese friends aren't familiar with cheddar and they typically think the flavors are too "koy" or strong.
Ok. Back to Costco. Costco warehouse are always in the same US style and follow the same biz model to save the consumers cash. Which means that Costco is further away from Tokyo, and it's not close to a train station either. We had to take a taxi (1,500 yen, = $20?).
There's the a local items like Japan style small appliances, and tools etc. Liquor is all localized, so there's 2 huge aisles dedicated to Japan beer and sake. There was a 9,800 yen (> $100 USD) sake in the "featured items" area. The beef selection was quite good. There was American beef (the cheapest). Domestic beef (medium expensive) and Wagyu Beef (most expensive). It looks like most people were picking up American beef, but it was in thin slices as it would be at a typical Japanese market, but larger packs since it's Costco.
Roast chick is 780 yen instead of the typical $5 USD. Butter croissants were also 780 yen instead of $5 USD. The frozen food selection was very Japanese also. They had frozen Tako balls (octopus balls, an Osaka creation, which is popular). And some other random things.
In the end of this whole trip, we did buy a TV, and a few hundred USD worth of stuff. I bought the T-Fal (Japan loves their French brands) water boiler (4,000 yen, instead of 7,000 yen in Bic Camera) and also a T-Fal pressure cooker pot (6L size, which doubles as my dutch oven) since they were a good deal.
Shipping items to any destination from Costco is really cheap. It's 500 Yen per box (2.5ft x 1 ft x 1ft). The boxes aren't large, so shipping a large amount of perishable items is obviously prohibitive. Therefore about 98% of the people shopping at the store drive here.