Japanese Convenience Stores

Check me in uniform!

Gab in Lawson uniform

Japanese convenience stores are actually convenient. In Canada or the USA, it seems convenience stores haven’t quite caught up to the awesomeness of Japanese convenience stores.  In the USA and Canada it seems gas stations have taken more of a convenience store role – get gas a pepsi and some chips while your at it.

Here in Japan, convenience stores are called conbini or コンビニ。
Conbini is short for convenience – but pronounced in Japanese. sounds like comb(silent b) bee nee.

There are 3 major convenience stores here in Japan:
Lawson (ローソン) and
FamilyMart (ファミマ).
There are others such as CircleK, MiniStop, Sunkus, スリーエフ and your local mom-pop shops.
All convenience stores are 24 hours here – I have never seen one closed. I wonder if they even have locks on the doors?

Off the top of my head here is what you could buy at a Japanese convenience store:
– socks
– plane tickets (smartpit at lawson)
– concert tickets
– pay your gas/cellphone/electric/anything bill
– buy an ipod
– send a package to your friend 500km away
– all types of HEALTHY food (oden, noodles, bento, rice, salad, sushi, snacks, drinks – you can buy chicken and fries, croqette)
– magazines
– hairwax
– stationary
– alcohol (not all stores have this)
– much more!

How many convenience stores in Japan? well,
Here are some numbers:

There are 11,883 7-eleven’s in Japan!
There are 8,564 Lawson’s in Japan.
There are 7,080 FamilyMart’s in Japan!

That means there is 1 convenience store for every 4,613 people in Japan.

I really like FamilyMart or Lawson. 7-eleven seems too corporate for me.  2 years ago FamilyMart branched to the USA and opened in California selling rice balls (onigiri) and some Japanese bento.  There are currently 13 FamilyMart’s in USA.

I love Japanese convenience stores!


~ by frischfarms on January 19, 2008.

22 Responses to “Japanese Convenience Stores”

  1. Yup, I totally agree with you. As the name goes, it’s all for our convenience 😀 I love them too, but they’re often too kind (putting anything I bought in a plastic bag, even for only a Jagarico *.*)
    So, you’re working at Lawson? I wish I could get the arubaito at one of the four kombinis near my house here. It’s kinda cool to work in kombini, don’t you think? 😛

  2. Lin,
    Thanks for visiting my blog and posting a comment.
    They do use to many plastic bags, but thats what japanese customer service is all about right!?
    As for the arubaito, I was kinda famous at a lawson in Okayama and they let me wear the uniform for a bit so I could take the photo. I dont work there. hehehe. good luck!

  3. meeeow! I am so printing that pic out and putting it on the ceiling above my bed! 8)

    Glad we are both back online – what are your plans?

  4. Blueseagrass,
    Plans for what?!

  5. Oh, I see. Ii nee.. you do look good *a bit* in that uniform ;D
    Btw, how long have you been staying in Japan? I never went to Okayama before – how is it??

  6. Lin,
    thanks! uniform is funny! Okayama is great its “the land of sunshine!”, but I dont live there anymore – im in tokyo!
    I’ve been in Japan 2.5 years.

  7. the land of sunshine? nice ^^
    I’m in Oita anyway.
    Ok, then. Have fun there 😀

  8. That picture is a classic! I can see the headlines now… “Gaijin works at Lawson”:-P Nice job getting them to lend you the uniform. I’m gonna have to sunbmit this to JapanSoc.com.

  9. We gaijin (as usual) have too much of an attitude about our specialness because we’re whiteys. A few years ago I went to a KFC and had trouble making myself understood at the drive through because, it turned out, the girl on the other end was Chinese.

  10. “We gaijin (as usual) have too much of an attitude about our specialness because we’re whiteys”

    I have an attitude because I am better than everyone else, in whatever I choose to do. If I were red, yellow, black or whatever, I would still rule.

    Skin color has nothing to do with it.

  11. Nick Ramsey,
    Thanks for your support and posting me on japansoc.com

    Peter Payne,
    Gaijin in Japan especially those working in no teaching english jobs are unique and I think work very hard to get where they are.

    Chris B,
    I like the optimism and the “its all good, cause we are all human and can all achieve our dreams” type attitude. thanks.

  12. Great pic!
    You forgot AMPM in your combini list though. Also some of the mama/papa combinis do close (out in the countryside). I was expecting more accuracy from such a scientific article 😉

    Befriending combini employees is fun. We were good friends with a combini boy at a Lawsons near our dorm. We never got any free food out of it, but we used to all joke around a bit.

  13. […] (of which the editor is the sole member). Some of the inspiration for this article came from the New Gabriel Times, a nice blog if I do say so myself (which I do and you are obliged to agree). The editor wishes you […]

  14. First, some convienence stores close. There’s an AM/PM which closed in my neighborhood at 1 a.m. We dubbed it am/PM and emphasized the PM because it really didn’t deserve to be AM if its only open from 6 am? Secondly, I question the necessity of the recent trend of AM/PMs that are now selling DVD titles, such as GARFIELD 2 and BEDAZZLED. Curry/wiener pita pockets or ham n cheese “burritos” I appreciate, but I’m really not going to purchase JACK w/ Robin Williams.

  15. Where did you get the uniform. I need one as a costume :p

  16. Omi,
    Thanks for the comment.
    Actually I made friends with the clerk and he let me where it for in-store promotion, and giggles!

  17. Can anyone tell which convenience store in Okayama (rura)activates brastel? Went to 7/11 they said they dont.

  18. eve,
    you should go to lawson or family mart, usually they can do the brastell for you.

  19. I wonder if they have statistics on whether or not their sales increase or decrease when a gaijin mans the store haha.

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