All you can do at conbini stores in Japan
“Let’s go to the conbini”. It’s one of the most heard sentences since I’m in Japan. For almost every situation. Like the (wrong) saying that humans only use 10% of the brain potential, usually tourists only use the 10% of the conbini potential. The things you can do and how they’re really convenient stores (that’s what the word Conbini stands for) would make anyone wonder, why we don’t have this in our country. There are several conbini chains in Japan, such as 7Eleven, Lawson, or Family Mart amongst the biggest. Then more local stores or less “famous” for tourists like Mini Stop or Sunkus. All open 24/7.
Food and groceries
The basics of survival. In every conbini you’ll find emergency food (for lazy days) like bento, instant noodles, sandwiches and so. Some food has to be heated before consumption, but don’t worry, they’ll ask you if you want it heated in the microwave first. Big conbini have eat-in areas, and those are really savepoints for rainy days. Grab a magazine, buy some food and let the rain fall while you eat inside. Daily groceries can be done here as well, from healthcare to school materials, or mostly anything you can think you have to buy on your way home.
ATM and tickets
Foreigner friendly, 7eleven will be your choice. Accepts most foreign cards and comission aren’t expensive. Withdraw money safely and buy that strawberry sandwich. You earn it. Buying concert and event tickets are another feature at conbini. Mostly from Lawson chain, the service allows you to book tickets to many events, museum entries, concerts and so. I had to do some time to attend a special event at some shops, and even themed restaurants.
Copy – scan – print it
Need to print a document before your departure back home? No problem, conbini has the machine you need it. Take your memory card, USB, or use wi-fi to connect your smartphone to the copy machine and print anything you need. Recently I’ve been printing out my sample photos to create portfolios and photobooks, and I have to say, their paper quality is good enough, for ¥10 each copy in B&W.
Pay your bills
The thing that most surprised me at the beginning and left me with a bamboozled expression on my face was that I could pay my bills at the conbini. Water, gas, electricity, even National Healthcare. The bills come to the apartment by post, then I take the bill and head to the nearest conbini. Pay in cash and get a stamp on my bill. Always pay in cash.