Japanese Convenience Stores - More than just convenient
Whether you are living in Japan or just travelling to Japan, there is a high chance that you will pass through a convenience store and even end up lining up to check out there. These stores live up to their name by offering a wide range of products as well as useful and unique services.
Waku WakuPublished on 05 Mar, 12:00
There are around 180 convenience store chains (called "Konbini" in Japanese) with approximately 50.000 stores covering all areas of Japan. Most Konbini are open 24 hours a day and you can find virtually anything you need: from grocery items and daily necessities to ATMs, printing, tickets & bills payment, sending letters & packages, and much much more!
In this article, let’s learn more about the four most popular convenience store chains in Japan, what are the differences and uniqueness in the services they are offering.
1. 7-Eleven (セブンイレブン)
Originated in America, 7-Eleven is now the biggest Konbini store chain in Japan with more than 20.000 stores throughout the country. 7-Eleven is famous for its originality "Seven Premium" - high-quality products that are on par with specialty stores. These products vary from dry groceries, cup noodles, beverages, sweets, and desserts, etc.
Many YouTubers are making videos about 7-Eleven Japan, complimenting its quality and diversity of food, one popular content is "Eating only 7-Eleven food" where they spend one day or even one week eating only 7-Eleven's food.
7-Eleven's products regularly stay on top among Konbini food. Although nearly everything you found here is worth your try. But fresh-ground coffee, pre-packaged bread, and Nanachiki (fried chicken) are particularly popular at 7-Eleven.
About banking service, 7Bank (Seven Bank ATM) are installed at 7-Eleven allows you to withdraw cash from domestic and international banks. It can be your savior while traveling in Japan.
2. Family Mart (ファミリーマート)
Founded in 1973 in Sayama, Japan, after merging with Circle K Sunkus, Family Mart is now the second biggest Konbini chain store in size in Japan, only behind 7-Eleven.
They are well-known for their hot food products, such as fried chicken, sausage, oden,... They are yummy! Also, many people go to Family Mart just to get "FamiChiki" (ファミチキ) - Family Mart original fried chicken. The juiciness, tenderness while remaining crispy, a secret flavourful chicken that is truly unforgettable and found nowhere else.
What sets Family Mart apart from other convenience store chains is they frequently do collaborate with local brands to release limited products: Muji, Kanebo, to name a few. They as well have their own originality called "Family Mart Collection" which offers snacks, bottled water, and drinks.
FamilyMart is also famous for its distinctive doorbell jingle, which you can hear upon entering the store. This jingle is referred to as Melody Chime No.1 - Daiseikyou, and was originally developed by Yasuhi Inada in 1978.
3. Lawson (ローソン)
Originated in Ohio, America but Lawson stores today, belong to a Japanese company (Lawson, Inc.).
Lawson is well-known for its health and beauty product line. Natural Lawson and Lawson Fresh Pick, two chain brands that offer healthy foods including organic, gluten-free, and also vegan groceries, are very popular among women.
Another two private brands of Lawson, Uchi Cafe, and Matcha Cafe, sell bento, sweets, and desserts. One signature sweet is "Premium Roll Cake" - a premium quality cream-filled sponge cake making you scratch your head "Why on earth can you get something this good from a convenience store?".
4. Mini Stop (ミニストップ)
Mini Stop ranks 4th in the total number of stores across Japan. You often find AEON logo right next to Mini Stop logo (AEON is the largest retailer in Asia). As a result of the company operating Mini Stop convenience store chain is a member of Aeon, which makes Ministop an AEON branded Konbini.
Ministop is famous for its soft vanilla ice-cream and Halo Halo - a seasonal shaved ice dessert that comes in different flavors.
There are many other convenience store chains that are not introduced here, but sure they have their own services worth the experience. With the above information, we hope you get some ideas of what to get when coming by any of these stores!
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