In this writer’s opinion, convenience stores, moreso than anything else, have become the symbol of modern Japan and part of Japanese culture. That’s more than anime, robots or even tentacle monsters. Convenience stores in Japan are like Wal-Marts in Amerca, in terms of how ubiquitous they are in Japanese society.

Called, konbini in Japanese, there are thousands of convenience stores in Japan and they do a whole lot more than just sell you snacks and Japanese junk food. A Japanese convenience store is a place where you can buy anything from insect repellent to panty hose, pay your bills, get concert tickets, ship a gift to a friend and fax important forms to your boss. In terms of services offered, Japanese convenience stores aren’t like Wal-Mart. No. They put Wal-Mart to shame. A Japanese convenience store is what Wal-Mart wants to be when it grows up.

There are dozens of convenience store chains in Japan; Lawsons, Family Mart, Circle K, etc, but the big-daddy of Japanese convenience stores is 7-11. Known in America for its Big-Gulp and slurpees, 7-11 in Japan is known for its wide selection of products and snack items. There are tens of thousands of 7-11s in Japan and can be found almost everywhere. Check for the Japanese 7-11 website.

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