Check The Big Three - "Konbini" in Tokyo
Sep 18 2015
In Tokyo, convenience stores are literally everywhere.
No surprise. There are more than 50,000 "konbini" in Japan!
At konbini, anytime 24 hours a day, you can:
= have fresh coffee
= buy hot meals
= use clean toilet for free
... the list goes on!
7-Eleven, Lawson, Family Mart, Mini Stop, Circle K Sunkus... you may think there is not much difference among them. The convenience store chains in Japan have competed with each other to develop new products and services so there IS a difference! Let's take a closer look at The Big Three:
The pioneer of konbini in Japan whose first store opened in 1974.
Their private label "Seven Premium" has been very popular recently. The series include typical Japanese dishes such as "simmered mackerel" and "chawan-mushi (savory steamed egg custard)." If you wish to enjoy Japanese cuisine but hesitate to order dishes in Japanese, get packages of "Seven Premium," go back to your hotel room and enjoy!
*Seven Premium (Japanese Only)
You can withdraw cash at Seven Bank ATM machines inside 7-Eleven stores with cards issued overseas, such as Visa, Master, Union Pay and Discover. International money transfer service is also available at the ATMs for Seven Bank account holders.
People buy convenience store coffee because its fast and cheap. At Lawson's "Machi-cafe (café on a street corner)," store staff brew coffee for you. (*The self-service coffee machine is also installed at some of Machi-café.) Their extensive menu has captured the hearts of young women: try matcha (green tea) latte and limited edition seasonal flavoured frozen drinks.
Don't forget "Uchi-café" sweets to pair with your drink. The ultra-premium sweets from Uchi-café (café at home) will make you feel like you are at a café anytime, anywhere.
I definitely recommend "Premium roll cake" from Uchi-café's extensive menu. Lawson has sold a total of more than 250 million roll cakes in about eight years! Taste the flavour that has gained great popularity among Japanese while you are in Japan!
Last but not least, attention ANIME fans!
The tickets to Ghibli Museum are sold exclusively at Loppi machine at Lawson!!
While Lawson seems to target women, operating also a network of NATURAL LAWSON stores for beauty and health-conscious consumers, Family Mart, in my opinion, appeals more to young men.
At "Famima," look for "Ore-no" series. "Ore" is a rough and casual first-person pronoun used by men. The intense black-and-white packages of "Ore-no" series are designed with an aim to make it easier for self-conscious Japanese men to purchase sweets. The gigantic size has also won the popularity among women after all!
You can also buy "MUJI" products, which have been sold and popular outside Japan.
Not only stationery that is perfect for a souvenir, they also have a great collection of underwear and socks, all in a compact package. If you run out of clean underwear or socks during your stay in Tokyo, Famima is the place to go! I even found dress shirts and neckties in the same package at Famima in the business district.
Well, above is just my personal "analysis," but I would be happy if you could see the characteristics of the three biggest convenience store chains in Japan.
Going to a konbini store not only to buy what you need but also to observe their own "personality" - it is one way to experience the unique culture of Tokyo!
Share if you are inspired to go to various convenience stores!