If you're from America like me, you probably don't think much of 7-11 and the like. Back in the States they were just consequences of having to fill up the tank. Sure a slurpee was nice, but all you really needed was gas and maybe a drink. Here in Japan, Convenience Stores, or konbini, are part of everyday life and you'll probably recognize that when you pass your fourth Lawson or Family Mart on the way to the local train station. These places are nothing like their American counterparts and offer so much more - one might even say they're convenient. Here's a list of everything you can do at your local konbini:
1. Pay Bills
Where do I pay my bills? you may ask Fear not! Just take them down to the local 7-11, Lawson, Family Mart, or what-have-you and give them to the cashier. Yep! It's that simple! Water bills, gas bills, electric bills, buying on Amazon, paying postage? All can be done at the convenience store! Paying bills is really as easy as buying a pack of gum.
2. Buy Meals
Sure you can buy snacks and drinks, but what if you're hungry late at night? I mean HUNGRY! Fear not, random citizen! Every convenience store had a prepared foods section and, in fact, if you aren't the type to cook or want to cook after working late then you will spend a LOT of time here. They have an assortment of great foods and the cashiers will even offer to heat them for you. Really it's like a cheap, unhealthy restaurant, but why ask so many questions when you're hungry at 2 AM and really drunk?
No not just soft drinks, but of course you can get your beloved Lemon Coke or Fanta. I mean beer. I mean liquor! The assortment isn't the greatest for liquor, but they will always have a standard assortment of beer from Asahi to Kirin to Chu-hais (Including 1L cans!). For liquor it's mostly (from my experience) whiskey and Suntory brand liquor. They have regular sizes and fun sized bottles for all your alcoholic needs. Drink up!
4. Home Goods
Did you think I was finished? No! The local convenience stores come stocked with aisles of home goods including plates, napkins, forks, chopsticks, bleach, detergent, soap, hair care products, personal hygiene, and even stationary. Yes, you too can do your daily shopping at a convenience store if you wish! Need some laundry detergent in a pinch? 7-11 has you covered! Need some shampoo to shower? Lawson's got you right here!
Yes they even sell electronics such as SD cards, USB Drives, phone chargers, and more! You may think this isn't necessary, but with the absence of familiar places such as Best Buy you will find yourself at a konbini for electronics sometime while you visit. Especially if you live far from a Bic Camera or Edion like I do!
Aside from the list they have the standard snacks and drinks. You can also have some of their heated foods from the counter such as a corndog (Biggu Amerikan Doggu) or fried chicken (Karaage). Of course you can withdraw AND deposit money into your Japanese bank account from most konbini as well. For international cards I suggest a 7-11 as they support visa and cards from abroad, with a small fee of course. And that's it! You'll find yourself in a convenience store many, many times during your stay regardless of length. I hope this helped you and if you want to see more from me you can check out my other post and my YouTube channel: BrettinJapan.