Japanese convenience store - No.1 store in the world
Fast, cheap, delicious and convenient are good adjectives to describe convenience stores (Combini) in Japan. From big roads to small neighborhoods, crowded or rural areas, you can find at least one or two convenience stores open 24/7 to serve you.
Convenience stores (Combini) aren’t something strange to Japanese people and foreign tourists anymore. With large chains, a lot of different brands and extremely good services convenience stores became a part of Japanese culture. For me, convenience stores are indispensable in my everyday life.
In my neighborhood are about 3 to 4 convenience stores that are open 24/7 and that every day of the year including national holidays such as New Year or Golden Week. Although each store is only a few square meters big, it offers many different products. I really like going to the convenience store, because it's like a miniature world that sells everything I need. So what can you find in a convenience store in Japan?
In convenience stores you can find a lot of different and diverse products, e.g fast food such as rice, sandwiches, instant noodles, Oden fish cake, grilled chicken or frozen food like meat, fish, ..., drinks, supplements, kitchen utensils or stationery for reasonable prices. I think the products here can be up to a hundred Yen cheaper than in some big supermarkets, but the quality is the same. The products are put on the shelves neatly and they are easy to find, so I don’t need much time when shopping here. Furthermore, the goods are all year long in stock for the customers. There is also a service to heat up food for customers who buy ready-to-eat food, so they can have a warm dish on stressed, school or work days.
What I use the most in convenience stores is the ATM. Each Combini in Japan is equipped with an ATM, where you can withdraw and transfer money with any type of bank card. They also have the option to choose English. Some places also provide languages such as Chinese or Korean, so I don't have to worry about going to the bank to get money anymore.
However, these ATMs will have different fees depending on the time of the day. For example, from 7am to 2pm the fee is about 180 Yen per withdrawal, from 2pm to 6pm it costs about 216 Yen and after 6pm 240 Yen. That’s why you should pay attention to the time when withdrawing money to avoid high fees. In addition, convenience stores also provide printers and copiers for the customer. The price for using the printer and copy here is usually around 10 Yen per sheet..
Moreover, you can pay your living expenses such as electricity, water and internet in a convenience store in Japan. This is one thing I really like in Japan. Every month when I receive my electricity and water bills, I can go to a nearby convenience store to pay. With this payment method, I’m not only able to pay whenever I want, I can also check the exact amount I need to pay instead of using direct debiting of the bank. I think this way is safer when you have to manage your personal expenses!
When buying products in Combini, you can either pay in cash or use credit or debit cards. This is really convenient when shopping at convenience stores, because you don’t have to carry around much cash. Here, people also pay via mobile applications such as Line, Paypay, Suica, etc. I use these to pay instead of using cash when I have less time. It then will only take 5-10 minutes to visit Combini. Moreover, some of the major convenience store chains often have their own customer card. You can get this for free at the store, earn points when you buy something and receive gifts when you have enough points!
Shopping in Combini is really convenient for an industrialized country like Japan. No one can deny that convenience stores play an important role in Japanese life..
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