In Japan’s big cities like Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya, one wouldn’t have to look far to get to a convenience store, or what the locals call the konbini. Popular chains like 711, Family Mart and Lawson are located in every block, some even facing each other across the streets.
So what makes these convenience stores awesome?
Availability and Reliability
Because they can be found almost everywhere (at least in the big cities), and they’re open 24×7, it surely is a relief that there’s always the konbini as a backup for a snack or a hot meal, especially late at night or early in the morning. They also accept credit card payments.
One time I arrived in Tokyo past midnight and was really craving for a good bowl of hot soba, and I simply had no more energy exploring the neighborhood after hours in transit. Luckily there was a Lawson store next to the hotel and they sell the ready to heat soba noodles with vegetable fritters (kakeage I think is what it’s called) – not the instant noodles one. The man at the cashier popped it in the microwave for me, and I enjoyed slurping on my hot tasty soba meal back at the hotel. It was the first time I had a ‘real meal’ from the konbini, and because I loved it, I had at least one in every trip thereafter.
Variety of Goods
I can find almost anything in the konbini – from drinks of various kinds like juice, alcohol, brewed coffee, matcha latte, and soda; to food like ice cream, chips, hot meals, rice snacks, pasta, fruit and so much more!
Aside from food, these stores also sell stationery, shirts, cell phone accessories, IQOS, and souvenirs.
Personally, I have bought items such as umbrellas, Muji shirts, stockings, pens, makeup, and a phone charger.
I haven’t tried it for myself but have seen customers send and receive items through the konbini.
These stores also have wifi and ATM.
Now ain’t that quite convenient?