What’s so special about Japanese convenience stores?

Apr 01 | Evan | No Comments |

Have you heard much about Japanese convenience stores? Yes, we are talking about convenience stores. In the U.S., there are also convenience stores too, but you don’t necessarily think of a convenience store where people go to have a decent meal, right? In the U.S., you may step into a convenience store to grab a drink or pick up a gun, but you don’t go in there to get food that can be satisfying for your brunch, lunch, and even dinner. 

In Japan, convenience stores are everywhere. Many operate 24 hours a day and it has become an essential part of Japanese people’s everyday life. The price may be a little more expensive than going to a local supermarket, but it’s convenient, open 24 hours a day, and there are even items only sold at convenience stores so the trust Japanese people have in convenience stores is immense. Next time you are on a photo tour of Japan, you might as well try having a brunch with food you can find at a convenience store.  We are not kidding! You will for sure go back for more! 

Essential in Japanese people’s everyday life

Convenience stores are an important part of Japanese people’s everyday life. It has items that are both hot and cold so that on a hot summer day when you need an icy cold drink or an ice cream to cool down, you can step into a convenience store. Similarly, on a cold winter day, once you step into a convenience store, you can find oden, hot buns, and/or hot drinks to warm up your body before you head home. Of course, for those people who don’t have enough time to prepare bento lunch, convenience bento is a lifesaver too! 

You may not know this, but convenience stores can also act as a place to protect kids from bad people by acting as a place of escape for children. If you see a sticker at a convenience store (can also be at supermarkets, gasoline stands, and regular homes) saying “Kodomo 110 ban no ie,” it is a safe house to escape in case of emergency for kids. Furthermore, this also applies to women if they feel unsafe walking back home. 

As well as food and drinks, convenience stores also act as a place to purchase tickets such as for concerts, amusement parks, and sporting events. In addition, not everyone has a fax machine at home so at convenience stores, people can send a fax as well. Furthermore, if you want to mail something to a friend/family, you can do that at a convenience store. As you are now aware, the service provided at convenience stores is so versatile that it has become a necessary part of Japanese people’s everyday life! 

Photo by Andrew Leu on Unsplash

This is the Japanese quality!

So how do international visitors react when they shop at Japanese convenience stores? Well, this famous foodie YouTuber, Mike Chen, visited both Seven Eleven and Lawson, two of Japanese major convenience stores, and tried all sorts of food that caught his attention. If you want to know what convenience stores carry and how international visitors think of food there, be our guest to watch the YouTube below. Of course, it’s his opinion, but this provides a good introduction to Japanese convenience stores. The level of food you can find at Japanese convenience stores is no joke!  

Of course, Mike Chen’s view is the view of an international visitor, so if you want to go a little more in depth about cultural awareness, watch “Abroad in Japan.” This youtube video below can give you a more in depth picture of ture Japanese convenience store as the YouTuber is a long resident of Japan and knows what each product is. In this video, he introduces 21 must try items at convenience stores in Japan. Perhaps try some of these items when you are on a  photo tour of Japan next! 


For Japanese people, convenience stores really provide a wide range of services that have become a significant part of everyday life. The majority of people use it so that they can purchase food and drinks, but this is also a good place to get newspapers as well as magazines and manga. Having a convenience store has its issues that we didn’t cover here today, but it often provides not only occupation to the community, but also a place to shop, and even a place to protect children and women in case of emergency. When you visit Japan next, make sure to try different convenience stores too as each one carries its own original items also. Don’t forget to let us know which one is your favorite and why!