The picture above is one I took at the local "sunlive" supermarket (I looked like a tourist!!). It basically says there is no butter available. WHAT?!!! I couldn't believe it. I mean no butter? Now, I know some of you might be saying "do Japanese use butter?" yep...they sure do. Perhaps not as much as we North Americans (and others) do but a lot of women bake...lots of baking gets done here and toast in the morning is pretty common too. How does a country basically have no butter? Well....talk to the government. Seems they told the dairy farmers last year they couldn't produce too much milk and then it was winter so I was told the cows didn't produce much milk. I'm sure there is more to this story but that is what I've been told.
Now...as for NO butter being available ...that isn't exactly true. At one store I found some "made in Hokkaido" (Hokkaido is in northern Japan) butter for about $5 for less than 1/2 a pound. I bought it and I bought margarine that "tastes like butter"-it even says it in English! I also bought a butter/margarine blend for baking. I asked my students about this and except for one student who is a baker...the others didn't care that much. They told me if there were no soy beans....then all hell would break loose since they use it to make everything-soy sauce, tofu, natto, miso etc. So as long as they have soy....most of them are ok. Considering they all love baked goods in this country I wonder if they will feel the same when the prices go up due to the butter issue?!!