Jul 3, 2018

Playing to the Local Crowd at Conbini

Hello again Japan expats, another quick question for you all: does your local conbini cater to customers by substituting local products into standard food choices?

For example:

Playing to the Local Crowd at Conbini photo

The label says, “Uses Niigata rice.”

I got a kick out of that, because I’ve often heard that Niigata folk are “rice snobs,” meaning that nothing will really do but the local goods. While I would never ever categorize any of the people out here in Niigata as "snobs" (I've never lived in a place with such warm or hospitable people), I can see why they wouldn’t want anything but locally grown koshihikari--the rice here is legitimately better than anywhere else I’ve ever lived.

Still, it’s interesting to me to see how these huge fast food chains take the time and effort to (1) use the local ingredients in even the most basic products (like the inari zushi pictured above), and (2) that they are sure to add specific labels indicating it as such.

It makes me wonder if folks out here would simply not buy it if there was any doubt as to whether Niigata rice was used. It also makes me wonder if there are any other prefectures out there that have the same practice.

Do croquettes コロッケ in Kagoshima have to use locally grown potatoes?

Do all dairy products in Hokkaido have to use Hokkaido milk?

Now that I think about it, I know for sure that one prefecture uses mostly locally sourced ingredients, but I figure that’s owing to the tyranny of distance. When I was in Okinawa, there were plenty of options that called out locally used products, and a LOT of products that you’ll only find in Okinawa conbini (which is too bad, too, since they are all pretty fantastic).

Anyone else out there have some good examples of this conbini phenomenon? Feel free to use the comments section below!



Hitting the books once again as a Ph.D. student in Niigata Prefecture. Although I've lived in Japan many years, life as a student in this country is a first.

Blessed Dad. Lucky Husband. Happy Gaijin (most of the time).