“Kombini”: The King of Convenience

April 4, 2007 at 5:19 pm 3 comments

Question: If you were to be locked inside a store for an entire night, which store would it to be?

My answer? 7-Eleven, of course! I head straight to the nearest one whenever I’m in Japan. It’s a one-stop shop for everything from table salt to concert tickets. Concert tickets?! What the heck? Well, imagine one of those mini-ATM machines dispensing more than just money. Japan has a far more sophisticated system which not only sells tickets but video games, DVDs, toys, and more.

It’s basically like online shopping—and you might need to wait a few days to have it shipped to the store—but think of the convenience of having a secure location to receive your stuff. Personally, I hate having packages sent to my apartment in Los Angeles worried someone will steal it or disappointed when all I’m left with is a yellow “not at home” slip. Oh and yes, Japanese people do feel safe having a store worker hold on to their packages. What a different world.


Japanese convenience stores (a.k.a., kombini) also have the best selection of meals. There’s a bevy of bento box lunches—packed with a bed of rice, grilled meat and vegetables—and rows of rice balls stuffed with oddities like salted plum (ume), dried fish flakes (katsuo) or marinated kelp (konbu). If you prefer your food hot, the sales clerk will microwave it in a jiffy. As he hands it back, he bows respectfully, thanking you for your patronage.

With a vending machine on nearly every corner in Japan, the kombini stays ahead by offering a wide selection of tasty beverages. For the winter season there’s hot Gogo no Kocha milk tea, and to quench your thirst in the summer there’s Aquarius (a mineral sports drink) and C.C. Lemon (a citrus soda). Showcased in a separate section are the pick-me-up elixirs, filled with enough caffeine to keep even the weariest businessman on his toes.

During my yearly trip to Japan, I look forward to checking out the newest stock of candy at the kombini. Designed with bright colors and bold lettering, the packaging alone is enough to make me grab everything on the shelf. Never mind I’m on a strict, low-calorie diet. Most candy I get from the kombini goes in my display case, open for consumption on an emergency-only basis. (^_<)


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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. We Love Candy! « Japanizmo Staff Blog  |  January 9, 2009 at 8:44 pm

    […] candy, candy. It ranks high among the things I love to hoard whenever I’m in Japan. And with so many choices out there – from mouth-puckering lemon drops to soda-fizzing gum – […]

  • 2. Chop-sticking it to the Man « Japanizmo Staff Blog  |  January 9, 2009 at 8:18 pm

    […] you’ve ever been to Japan you know just how much the country relies on wooden chopsticks. At convenience stores and fast food bento chains, stock is overflowing with sticks as an offering to customers to come […]

  • 3. Christmas Dates and Christmas Cakes « Staff Blog  |  December 17, 2007 at 9:39 am

    […] One year, I found myself hanging out with the lonely hearts club, in fact. A group of us hit up a kombini for booze and dried squid and then laid under a kotatsu (electrically heated table) all night […]


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April 2007


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