A few months of being back in Canada and our host Anthony Joh is thinking about how relieved he is about escaping the “Japanese furnace”, also known as the 35-40 degree summers in Japan. But, he also recognizes that he’s missing one of the best things about Japan and it is the the Japanese convenience stores!
It’s not fair to compare the famous Japanese ‘kombinis’ with the convenience stores of the rest of the world. The Canadian convenience stores are neither convenient nor are they a very good store, offering mostly junk food and minimal services.
Japanese convenience stores on the other hand are the epitome of convenient and is one of the things that you’ll take for granted when you live in Japan and miss tremendously when you leave.
1. Pay your bills
Most of the Japanese banking services are not surprisingly all in Japanese. This also includes online banking. So, if you don’t speak the language, paying your bills can be a bit of a hassle. The most convenient solution is to head to a nearby kombini and pay your bills there. And since they’re open 24/7 anytime that works for you will do.
2. Receive ordered goods
The delivery service in Japan is truly amazing, not only can you be sure to get the fastest delivery, but you can also specify a 2-hour window to receive your goods. If you happen to miss it, you can reschedule delivery to the very same day.
If you don’t have an address or a credit card, you can still order your items from online shops, like Amazon and have them delivered to the convenience store and pay for them in cash as you pick them up.
3. Print or make photo copies
If you need to do paper work, get copies of anything or do some printing – which you most likely will need to do if you want to get an apartment or a bank account, head over to the nearest kombini and use their copy machines.
4. Buy emergency clothing
Remember the 35 degree summers mentioned at the start of the article? Add to that the 80% humidity and you’ll be sweating through your clothing in no time. Running late for a client meeting and don’t want to show up a sweaty mess? Hop into a kombini and buy an undershirt, button down shirt and even a tie and then use their washrooms for a quick wardrobe change!
You can also find underwear, socks, ties, nylons and even rain ponchos, something worth keeping in mind during typhoon season and humid summer months.
5. Transfer money worldwide
If you’d like to transfer money from Japan to your home country, one of the easiest ways is to do it through 7/11’s own bank, the 7-Bank. You’ll find an ATM in every 7/11 where you can deposit money and send to whoever you want, all over the world. The money goes to Western Union and the receiver can pick it up at their nearby Western Union agent.
6. Get your event tickets
This may not sound like it’s something you’ll use but trust me it is. Using an event ticket machine is a great way of finding out what kind of events are happening all over Japan.
You can buy the tickets right there for concerts, the Ghibli museum or other cool events. This does require some knowledge of Nihongo though, so it might be a good idea to bring a friend with a good understanding of Japanese.
7. Eat really good food
For those who aren’t big fans of cooking or are short on time, the kombini is the go-to place as you can buy yourself a pretty good amount of food there. You’ll find everything from sushi, toast, hamburgers to fried chicken or soup.
According to most of the locals, it’s far from the best food you can find as it contains chemicals but compared to the food sold in North American convenience stores, it’s of a much higher quality.
A word of advice – in one of the convenience store chains, Lawson, the price of almost everything is around 100 yen, which makes it hard not to buy and eat too much junk food and snacks. After all, they’re both delicious AND cheap, so try to keep your self-control.