HOW TO USE JAPANESE CONVENIENT STORES
Conbini, as the Japanese call them, come in all shapes and sizes, with more varieties than you could imagine: Lawson, 7-Eleven, and Family Mart are the main convenient stores in Japan, but there are so many more! Each have their own quirks, style, and product line, but all offer the same basic services.
At the Japanese Conbini you can send packages, but only in Japan (for sending abroad you still need to go to the Post Office). It is convenient if you want to send something to the place you are staying at so you don't have to carry it, or send gifts or postcards to friends in Japan. You may have to write the address in Japanese, but try asking the staff to write it for you. Japanese delivery service is excellent so as long as there is no natural disaster it is likely to arrive the next day. Depending on the size and weight it may cost around 500-1500 yen. Some Japanese even send their ski or golf supplies in advance!
You can purchase tickets you reserved for airlines and buses and more at the ticket machines in the Conbini. This is a big help when you don’t have your credit card as you can just enter a code. Usually you just need to enter your reservation number and phone number in the machine. You can also buy tickets for concerts, events, and more using this machine (many people buy their tickets for Studio Ghibli Museum and Tokyo Disney Resort vouchers from here). Follow the instructions (you may need a Japanese friend’s help if the machine doesn’t offer English) and when the process is complete a paper will print from the machine. You then take that to the register to pay.
Conbini food is delicious?! Yes!! Eat-in or have a coffee break. The Conbini can heat up your food, and many offer coffee and have some table or counter seats available. Since many hotels don’t offer breakfast or other meals, the Conbini can be a useful option. They have sandwiches, o-nigiri (rice balls) and other cheap options. They’ll heat up your bento box meals to take back to your room, and if they have a place to eat there it’s great for a break. Many also have a hot water dispenser so you can make instant soup. Since there are so many Conbini in Japan, competition between brands makes for high quality products and constantly improved recipes and meals that you will certainly enjoy. The selection is also usually quite impressive.
You can print useful maps and more for your sight seeing trip, but if you’re in Japan on business here you can make copies, send faxes, or print documents on regular or high quality paper from USB, CD, and more. Large Conbini have parking lots, and with razors, shampoo and other toiletries readily available, it can be your one-stop for business as well. How convenient!
During your trip to Japan Convenience Stores are actually very, well, convenient! Of course you can buy anything from food and drinks to daily toiletries etc., but in Japan the “Conbini” actually makes itself the most convenient one-stop-shop it possibly could be. Most are open 24 hours, and if you know how to use them inside-out nothing is more convenient.
Please note, in this manga guide we have not covered the certain convenient aspects such as using your Suica or Pasmo cards to make purchases, using ATM’s for international money exchange, or the convenience of Conbini restrooms as we have covered these topics already in past How-To Manga guides:
[updated November 2018]