Achieving Your Goals in Japan

bored and reminiscing back to when I lived in Japan (Kyoto specifically). I had just discovered T-nation through the John Berardi site and was really pumped to get started on working out and eating right (al la Massive Eating).

So I write up a nice little plan – a sensible beginners workout schedule, but fairly advanced eating logs, and a long shopping list. I go out to the foreign import grocery store in this shiny new mall (which is father away than the usual traditional Japanese market I go to), and try to purchase some things.

After some fruitless searching I realised a few things. Japan does not have:

-protein (except soy powder at ~$30/lb!)
-affordable beef (remember BSE? Japan used to import a majority of its beef from America, but while I was there they banned American beef)
-cottage cheese
-low fat cheese of any kind
-whole wheat bread (im serious!)
-affordable supplements (they, apparently, do not beleive in the multi-vitamin … they’d rather you buy one vitamin at a time at exorbinant cost … no fish oils, no flax oil, NOTHING)

this might be part of explaination why there are so few japanese body builders?

the situation as it was, I forced to improvise. Heres what Japan did have:

-cheap fresh hi-quality seafood of every variety you can think of (and some you never imagined) – this took care of animal protein and EFAs

-barley (instead of oatmeal)

-buckwheat noodles (soba)… like whole wheat pasta, moderate GI

-low fat yogurt (i’d throw sugar&bananas into it and it was my PWO “drink”)

-a huge variety green tea! (you can actually buy liter bottles of special catechins enriched tea at convienece stores there)

so there i was, eating barley and lo-fat fish/seafood for my P+Cs, eating fatty fish for my P+Fs (i dont really understand the economics of this, but, somehow Japan is able to import wild alaskan salmon at roughly $4/lb), downing yogurts post work out, drinking so much green tea that me and my urinal made a permanent emotional connection.

…and it worked amazingly! I got ripped and gained LBM (ok, newbie gains, but i’ll take them!). the moral of the story being, adapt or die. actually, the moral is probably, find sometihng to do so you can stop writing drivel on forums.

I don’t consider myself an “unmotivated individual” or “easily distracted” but if I lived in Japan, I wouldn’t be able to train, eat, sleep, or even have time to take a shit. I would be so busy chasing around all those cute Japanese girls, the whole world would just melt away. Ohh mama, Japanese girls. Droooooooooolllllllll.

I remember living in Tokyo a few years back. I got multi-vitamins, but had to import my creatine. After a workout I’d normally go for a bowl of soba with a mackerel thrown into it: fluids, the right fats and some protein. Made me happy - but not heavy. I think it’s cool how you adapted.


First, those are some excellent ideas about alternative foods. Thank you for that I’ll be sure to make use of those when I get back to Japan. I wish I had thought of some of those when I was living there.
HOWEVER, you are completely missed out on supplements! I lived in Osaka and could buy all kinds of supplements, both at my gym or at the sports department store, Spotaka. There was also a bodybuilding shop downtown that had everything you could need. There was no Biotest but there was EAS stuff, I used Myoplex. Some of the Japanese brands were cool too, I bought this mixture called “Striking Protein” and it was loaded with creatine and other stuff.
At the gym I trained at in Osaka (B&F) there were a lot of bodybuilders and some good powerlifters. One bodybuilder I used to train with was only 20 and could bench 365x5 at 210 pounds. I thought that was pretty impressive, he was over 6 feet too and really lean.
Thanks for the thread, it brings back some really good memories! And dammit, you’re right, no cottage cheese…

Thanks for the thoughts. I’m in China right now and have MAJOR difficulties in finding things that are condusive to productive training.

Food for thought…muchos gracias.

Dude…you must live in the outer universe of Kyoto…These days…they sell Oatmeal almost everywhere…Have you checked out
They have almost anything you want from the US…even Atkins products…I live in the Kobe area…I buy whey protein at almost any sports gym like KONAMI or sports stores have many supplements these days…Red meat is high …but hell chicken is well priced…and canned tuna and salmon is easy to find…good luck

Trailblazer: I lived in HK for three years - everything is available - let me know what you can’t find and I 'll tell you where you can buy it,

I courier my Biotest stuff - costs 90USD to courier a shipment - arrives in 3 days after ordering.

I now live in shenzhen and do a weekly shopping trip to HK but i can find most things here - cottage cheese etc at expat stores.

Anyway, in HK you can buy everything and anything.

Yep, I lived in a kind of rural area of Kyoto (just north of the imperial palace). I know Osaka is close, but I never went there looking for supplements and protein. The thing is there are tons of supplements in Japan, but none of them seemed useful or worth the money. Did you ever see VAAM? Its like wasp spittle or something. I just think they had ridiculous stuff that was overpriced with real dubious efficacy.

Actually, I found Japan to be a great place, diet wise, except for the PWO. Almost all of my fats came from fish, (MAN, i live for Bonito … I dont know if any of you this stuff called Katsuo-tataki, but its basically vacuum sealed fillets of delicious raw tuna … and I used to put Katsuo-hana bushi in everything), i was kind of afraid I might be getting too much EPA/DHA. It did the trick though (or maybe it was the gallons of green/oolong tea I was drinking): i never got very big, but I got ripped to shreds.

Wow, im curious how many people on this board are, have been, in Japan. I was in Shanghai for a bit too, but it seemed much easier there to get stuff. I was in Mongolia as well … and I remember grocery shopping for this jeep expedition and categorizing stuff into P+C, P+F. They sell the best bread there … this hearty stuff from Russia that has the density of brick.


Thanks for the offer, but…

Actually, I’m not in HK. Maybe I should change my city on my information, huh?’s just the closest city on the list. my bad.

I’m in NORTHERN China…about 200 Miles SOUTH of The Russian (Siberia) and CHina border in Heilongjiang province. The city is Sui Hua…maybe 100 miles north of the capital of the province (Harbin).

I’ve just gotten a friend to come out here from the states and bring some Biotest stuff (Thank goodness)…but now there is no SURGE! (ugh). lol.
At least I can stock up on Power Drive, Grow! (maybe for a month or 2), ZMA…and maybe Methoxy-7.

Been using this Chinese Whey Protein (from what i can tell…decent, at least…not Grow!, but what is?) and I’m checking out this “after workout stuff” (seeing as I can’t ge Surge right now)…need to do research on the ingredients to see if it’s worth it.

How do you like it? I spent 3 1/2 years in China/Asia. My office was in Beijing but I would fly to ChengDu, Nanchung, Guangzhou/Hangzhou, Hubei, ChangChun and I spent alot of time in the North in JiLin. Hong Kong is the best though. Nowadays, they have alot of commercial gyms in Beijing/Shanghai.


you WERE asking me, right? if not…my bad…lol…

You know, this place is a small city…so being a westerner is akin to being famous…everyone stares and nudges people to look. You have to constantly have a “game face” on. At first it was cool…but now…ESPECIALLY at the gym…it’s a little much. I mean, people stare (I’m not too large or anything…kinda small really) at me while I lift…and recently children gather around to watch me and they cheer me on…“Jason, you’re the best” etc…lol. Nowadays, I politeley tell people to not bother me when I’m lifting…and that I’ll be happy to speak with them before or after my workout…they want to practice their English.

There are LOTS of stronger/more cut up people there than me, but I’m the best thing in this city since rice…lol. And I’ve even showed them a few things…it’s always interesting trying to explain something in English to non-English speakers (for the most thought).

On a personal level…I’ve discovered a GREAT business idea since coming here…when I get back to the states I’ll get cracking on it…now I am doing a lot of planning and writing…f’ing GREAT idea that I’ve been needing to kick ass in life, ya know?

On a deeper and more personal level…you know in life we are like a house. We start off with the color of the wood we’re built with…over the years we “paint” over the previous layer…after 20 years or so we have a LOT of layers of gunk that cover our original “color”…aka: the person we TRULY are, ya know? Well, I’ve not scraped all the paint away, but I can see spots of the original color again, ya know?

So overall, this is the BEST thing that has EVER happened to me…thinking of continuing the adventure and “trailblazing” into other cities…maybe Luoyang (ancient city in Henan Province)…an ancient city nestled in between ancient/holy mountains…and near the Shaolin Temple…it would be cool…then travel and teach in Shanghaii or Beijing…can make more contacts, save some money for the business, then head back home and kick some arse.

Hope you WERE talking to me…


Oh yeah…sorry about the Hijack…

Trailblazer - a 100 miles north of Harbin - that’s the end of the world!! I didn’t think there was anything north of Harbin. You must be freezing your butt off. Good luck!!!

BTW there is a sports medicine company out of Beijing that sells protein powder, preworkout drinks, post wo, various supplements (L-carnitine, etc.) - to name a few. They are the “official supplier” to the Chinese National Sports Academy so it must be OK.

Haven’t tried any but the packaging looks professional. If that means anything. If you are interested I will find out the name and contact for you.

Sorry for hijacking also.

I remember living and teaching outside of Fujinomiya in the late 80s. Another American teaching at the school, a dedicated cyclist, was really missing peanut butter. One day he came home with a huge jar the size of a bucket. He was pretty pleased but the students started laughing. It turns out the peanut butter he thought he had bought was actually a hair-styling product favored by elderly women.

I write for a Japanese fitness magazine called Ironman Japan (Japanese affiliate of Ironman Mag) and they carry a ton of supplements. You can get everything that you need through them.

Mike Mahler

??! That’s the only Japanese I know. My brother knows Japanese and he went to Japan a while back. Osaka, actually.
Sorry, it’s off topic.

*Note: I found out the Japanese couldn’t be published on the site. That’s why it’s ??!. lol!

I was just reading about how Ironman Japan is a lot better than the American version of Ironman.

Apparently strong man is covered in a lot more depth over there.

Check out these two mags: