Tuesday, June 18, 2024
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Konbini store, introduction to Japanese convenience stores

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In this article we are going to see an introduction to Japanese convenience stores, also called konbini store.

Konbini: コンビニエンスストア
Travel logistics can be one of the less pleasant aspects of travel, but thanks to their wonderful convenience stores – known as konbini in Japanese – traveling around Japan is surprisingly simple and cheap (we’ll see that there are other, cheaper supermarkets, mind you, but these are open 24 hours and bring with them a lot of extras, which we’ll get to).

The thought of lugging my suitcase on trains and bullet trains, hiding my money in various nooks and crannies, making sure I’ve packed everything on my list and mentally planning my bathroom breaks, or my meal times, just thinking about it makes me want to curl up in a ball.

But I never stress about these details when exploring Japan, because Japanese convenience stores make traveling around the country so much better, at least for us.

Here are some of my favorite Konbini travel tricks to make your trip to Japan smooth and hassle-free.

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Photocopying at Konbini store

If you need to print photos from your trip, documents, make copies or even fax something important, you can do it all at the nearest convenience store or konbini store.

Most of the copy/fax printers have USB slots and memory card readers, and also some are similar to smart phones, because of all the touch buttons and functions it has AND they also have English settings for those of us who are foreigners, so if you don’t know Japanese that’s okay, with the mandatory English we have received in school since we were little until the end it will be very helpful!

konbini store
Photocopying in Japan

Withdrawing money from international ATMs in Japan : Konbini store in Japan

Although credit card use is increasing in Japan, it is still a cash economy. It is not uncommon for smaller establishments to sell only in cash, so it is essential to always have some on hand.

7-eleven in Japan : Konbini 7 eleven

Fortunately, as long as there’s a 7-Eleven store in sight, you never have to worry about running out of yen; and, as you’ll see, 7-Eleven’s are everywhere.

Plus, they’re open 24 hours a day!

Nowadays, other konbini stores companies are catching up, so you’ll also find ATMs that accept foreign cards at some FamilyMarts, for example. However, 7-Eleven is still the best option.

konbini store
7Eleven cashier

Forwarding luggage to its next destination

One of the surprising joys of traveling in Japan is the country’s incredible baggage forwarding service. It may not sound very exciting, but using this easy and reliable service makes getting around the country a breeze, and not having to worry about where to leave your suitcase.

If you’re staying at a high-end hotel or ryokan, you won’t have to go to a store to get this service, as the front desk staff at most hotels and ryokans can make the arrangements for you.

But how can you take advantage of baggage forwarding when staying at a friend’s house or Airbnb?

Simply drop off your suitcase at the nearest konbini and continue your trip with the assurance that your luggage will be waiting for you at your next destination. With a couple of days’ notice, you can even send it to the airport for easy pickup at your departure terminal.

If you do not speak Japanese, you should make sure in advance, how to fill out the forms correctly and enjoy a light trip.

Onigiri rice ball in a store in Japan : Konbini snacks in Japan

Onigiri are a delicious and convenient on-the-go snack. Eat surprisingly good food. If you’ve read enough about Japan, you’ve probably already heard that Japanese konbini food is surprisingly good.

It may not come as a surprise in a food-obsessed country like Japan, but Japanese convenience stores put most countries to shame, plus they have a wide range of snacks, and snacks, hot and cold.

konbini store
Corridors of the Konbini 7 eleven

Of course, you will also find junk food, such as, pizza slices, hotdogs…. The konbini store snack aisles offer endless delicacies – but in addition to the usual snacks, you’ll find a wide variety of culinary offerings.

There are dozens of varieties of onigiri (rice balls), countless bento boxes and salads, and all sorts of colorful and delicious sandwiches (including the iconic tamago sando).

You can slurp noodles (there’s often an instant ramen section) or a bowl of hot, moist oden, and pair it all with an iced green tea or a can of delicious Japanese beer – you can even eat it there as almost everyone has a proper place to do so.

THE BEST OF KONBINI STORE, for me is the microwave, you can make and heat any food there and of course, eat it.

konbini store
Microwave in konbini store

Of course, there are some really amazing places to eat in Japan (like Tokyo’s sushi “temples”), but if you’re ever in a pinch, the konbini store have your back, or really if you’re looking to eat cheap and fast, or you’re backpacking in Japan.

Coffee in Japan | Where to drink coffee in Japan

If you’re serious about coffee, you may already have a long list of coffee shops to visit while traveling in Japan.

But unlike in many other parts of the world, trying to find a good cup of coffee or espresso in the morning can be a frustrating challenge. Many visitors to Japan have been disappointed to discover that most coffee shops and bakeries don’t open until 10 or 11 am.

So if you’re out of the house or hotel at the crack of dawn and in desperate need of a caffeine fix, skip the vending machine coffee and head for the nearest konbini store.

No, it won’t compare to that coffee shop you wish opened earlier, but Japanese convenience stores are upping their coffee game – and at outrageously reasonable prices, too, better than the usual coffee shops.

konbini store
Konbini coffee

Japan’s Don Quixote stores sell everything

Perhaps the only thing the konbini can’t compare to are the Don Quixote stores of Japan.

Where to buy travel and toiletries in Japan

As you can see, Japanese convenience stores are really convenient. Extremely convenient. And another key aspect in which they excel is their huge variety of travel and toiletries.

This goes far beyond basic supplies like toothpaste and cotton swabs.

At most konbini store, you can stock up on a plethora of essentials and more, from lightning cable phone chargers and in-flight sleep masks, to socks and dress shirts (and even a tie if you’re in a pinch and you’re male, or stockings if you’ve just had a crack and you’re female), designer items from stores like Muji, and much more.

Of course, if the impressive selection isn’t enough for you, you may have to pay a visit to the inimitable Don Quixote, which we talked about a few moments ago.

konbini store
Aisle toilet konbini store

Convenience stores in Japan offer free Wi-Fi

If you haven’t gotten a pocket Wi-Fi, most konbini store offer free Wi-Fi.

As anyone who has visited the country knows, Japan is not exactly the land of free Wi-Fi. Staying connected while traveling in Japan can be a real pain if you’re not prepared, so you might want to check out the post I’ve left you with over 1000 free wifi spots in Japan.

Unless you have a good international plan, we recommend you pick up a pocket Wi-Fi device. But if you’re in a pinch, just head to the nearest konbini.

Convenience stores, such as FamilyMart and 7-Eleven, now offer free Wi-Fi services, and an email address is usually enough to get connected.

In addition to Wi-Fi, konbini store can be useful when you need to print or fax. Admittedly, this is not high on the priority list of most modern travelers, as we carry everything on our cell phones, but if the need arises, you know where to turn.

konbini store
Free Wi-Fi konbini store

Buy tickets for activities at Konbini

While this is usually more useful for long-term visitors to Japan, it is useful to know that most konbini have small kiosks where you can buy tickets for events, exhibitions and concerts.

For example, if you plan far enough in advance, you can buy tickets to the Ghibli Museum at a Lawson kiosk. It’s also the way I paid for domestic flights before without using a credit card, easy and fast.

konbini store
Pay for Konbini tickets

Where and how to pay bills in Japan | Paying bills in Konbini store

If you live in a foreign country like Japan, paying bills can be quite intimidating and difficult. Fortunately, you can easily pay most bills at convenience stores or konbini, no need to know Japanese. It’s very simple, you walk into the convenience store or Konbini and hand the bill to the cashier. You can then pay it in cash.

After you have paid, in the next step, the clerk will put a date stamp on your printed stub, in 3 different places. Most bill stubs are perforated. He or she will keep two of the stamped stubs and give you one of them (one copy is for you, one is for the convenience store records and the other is for the company that is billing you, it is similar to when we pay by card in our country).

The stamped stub is proof that you paid your bill on the date shown on it. It is a good idea to have the stub for your records, just in case.

Where to find a toilet in Japan | Public toilet in Tokyo

I admit that when I travel to most countries, part of my brain’s memory, which is permanently in use, is used to constantly scan my surroundings while I’m exploring, as we all imagine.

If I need to go to the bathroom, where is the nearest shopping mall? Can I casually walk into a hotel lobby and use the restroom? Do I have to buy a drink at this coffee shop to use their restroom? Especially women think more about these kinds of things for obvious reasons, so no more worries.

Japan is one of those places where you will almost never have to worry if you desperately need a restroom. Virtually every konbini has a free public restroom that you can use, regardless of whether you are a paying customer or not. Just enter through the back or ask a store employee. Crisis successfully averted.

Most, but not all, konbini store have free restrooms, but don’t worry sometimes on the same street you find 2 konbini and one of them does have a restroom.

konbini store
Konbini public restroom

Take advantage of the konbini during your trip

Konbini store are an integral part of daily life in Japan, both for those who live here and for travelers.

We hope this introduction to the wonders of Japanese convenience stores will help make your trip to Japan that much easier.

Other konbini store chains:

  • Lawson, is one of the most ubiquitous konbini chains in Japan.
  • FamilyMarts, a good supermarket where you will find everything.
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We are lovers and specialists in Japan, one of us with a master's degree in Japanese culture, studying in Japan and Spain, also with Japanese language course with JLPT N3 (Noken 3) ofical qualification and superior qualification of tourist guide. We are a family of 5 members, and our 3 daughters are named Yuna, Yui and Yuki in honor of Japan, we love to travel (I have even traveled to Japan pregnant and with a baby on occasion) so we can bring you not only to Japan more otaku and cultural, but the face that not everyone teaches, traveling with children to Japan and places to visit with them.We love Japan, its culture, its people, its language, its cities, its small towns, its nature, its food, its anime and manga, its souvenirs... EVERYTHING ABOUT JAPAN!We invite you to see the traditional Japan and the secret Japan on our website and our Youtube.We are All About Japan: Your best travel guide to Japan
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