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A Great Option For Those On The Go! Eating At A Convenience Store

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Eating a convenience store in Japan is a surprisingly delicious and cheap way to experience real Japanese culture. It is worth checking out the services of the major convenience stores in Japan!

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Life in Japan moves at a dizzying pace; especially when visiting Tokyo, where the kaleidoscopic blur of neon store signs and blinking car lights and cadence of millions of people moving purposefully through their everyday lives can be quite overwhelming.

Full of both a rich cultural background and an energy that crackles like electricity, an adventure in Japan will have a traveler always on the go. During times like these, it can be difficult to schedule in time to eat a sit-down meal, let alone navigate the manners and etiquette required in a restaurant setting. A surprising alternative: eat at a convenience store!

Eating at a Covenience Store

Eating at a Japanese Convenience Store

Convenience stores, known throughout Japan as “konbini”, are a quick, stress-free way to get genuine Japanese food. Put aside any preconceptions and snack the way the Japanese do - with alarming efficiency while still remaining uncompromising on the pure, clean taste.

Eating at a Japanese Convenience Store

Picture from: Vegetarian Onigiri - Enjoy Meat Free Rice Balls On The Go

Grab and go snacks such as onigiri, a triangle shaped rice ball with different fillings on the inside, such as pickled plum or tuna, are a perfect example of an everyday staple in the Japanese diet that can be purchased for around 100 yen at any konbini.

Eating at a Japanese Convenience Store

Unlike in their foreign counterparts, food at Japanese konbinis are safe to eat and more than surprisingly satisfying. The variety of food varies from pasta to sushi to pork rice bowls, and all choices are guaranteed to be sold at an appetizing price point as well. For those hoping to travel cheap, and experience a genuine aspect of Japanese life, while also maximizing the time available to continue exploring, a konbini is the perfect place.

Eating at a Japanese Convenience Store

Picture from: 5 Convenience Store Items To Keep You Warm In The Winter

Rest assured. If you happen to decide to purchase a food, such as ramen, which are incomplete without the addition of hot water, a typical Japanese konbini will have its customer covered. Simple to use machines provide the finishing touches on a purchased meal.

And where better to eat the final product, as ramen is not exactly the best on-the-go option to tote on busy streets, than the various counter spots available. While not all konbini are equipped with seating options, a good majority have designated areas where people can quickly enjoy their purchases before continuing on their way. 

Other Great Services You Can Enjoy at Konbinis

Eating at a Japanese Convenience Store

And that’s not all. A Japanese konbini is much more than just food. At one of these all-purpose oases, customers can use a printer, charge their mobile phones, buy concert tickets, pay their health insurance, and most importantly, capitalize off of free Wi-Fi (especially helpful for a traveler searching for readily available Wi-Fi spots).

There are a variety of stores to turn to if you’re in a pinch while in Japan. Classics include 7-Eleven, Lawson, and Family Mart, the golden trio of convenience stores. Occasionally, the 100 yen version of a popular convenience store will appear, offering discounted prices on everything from chips to fresh vegetables.

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The 3 Major Convenience Store Chains In Japan - A Comparison

A Japanese Phrase You Will Need at the Konbini

Eating at a Japanese Convenience Store

When purchasing at a convenience store, you will most probably be addressed by the staff in keigo. Keigo is an ultra-polite honorific form of Japanese speech that uses different words to say the same things as a normal Japanese person might say, except swathed in many layers of deference to the almighty customer, which can often be challenging to decipher.

Therefore, even people with a little bit of background speaking Japanese beneath their belts should still be cautioned of the usage of this tricky vocabulary when in stores. Keigo is also used in a variety of other everyday settings, such as in clothing shops or normal restaurants, so understanding a few of the more common keigo terms might prove to be more broadly useful to memorize.

Read also:

13 Japanese Phrases For Shopping In Japan

An example of an often used keigo phrase (almost exclusively at a konbini) is the question ”Atatamemasu ka?”. Often this question, which asks if you want your food nuked in the microwave for a few minutes, comes after selecting one of the heartier looking meals, such as an udon noodle bowl or a pork curry bowl. An appropriate response, and one that can generally be safely used if you don’t understand something, is a slight bow and an answer of “hai”.

Although, if you happen to forget, the shopkeepers will certainly understand what yes means in English as well.

Use Cash! Paying at the Konbini

Eating at a Japanese Convenience Store

As you approach the counter, take caution. Japan has a noticeable addiction to using coins, so much so that a coin purse is essentially just as important to have as a regular wallet. While credit card might be accepted in some convenience stores, the majority of Japanese people use cash when paying for their purchases, which inevitably results in mass quantities of coins. Keep your own spare change somewhere convenient and be prepared to search through the loose yen when buying your food.

In Conclusion

If attempting to order from traditional Japanese menus written only in kanji terrifies you or you’re simply too excited about seeing everything that Japan has to offer that you simply cannot spare time on three full, sit-down meals in a day, or even if you’re just curious to partake in an arguably essential part of the everyday Japanese culture, eating at a convenience store is a can’t miss experience.

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