05/04/2022

Japan’s Convenience Store, Konbini: Services Offered and Major Chains

I’m sure you’ve heard of the many wonders that are Japanese convenience stores. Offering everything from food, ticket buying, postage services, etc. Konbini has become a necessity to people living in Japan. Some people even choose their homes based on distance to the nearest konbini! 


Table of Contents

  1. What’s Konbini?
    1. How many Konbini are there in Japan?
  2. Services Offered in Konbini
    1. Konbini Food and Drinks
    2. Postal Services
    3. Bill Payment Services
    4. Copy, Print, Scan, Fax Services
    5. Ticket Terminals
    6. Free Wi-Fi Access
    7. Rest Area
    8. Public Toilet
  3. Biggest Konbini Chains in Japan
    1. Lawson
    2. 7-Eleven
    3. Family Mart
  4. Other Konbinis in Japan
    1. Mini Stop
    2. Seicomart
    3. Daily Yamazaki
  5. Takeaway

What’s Konbini? 

Konbini (コンビニ) is short form for convenience store (コンビニエンスストア) in Japanese. 

How many Konbini are there in Japan? 

There are more than 50,000 konbini all over Japan. It is not a stretch to say that you can find one every block. 

※ NSS Corporation, “【2021年版】コンビニエンスストアの店舗数ランキング

Services Offered in Konbini

Why are konbini so popular in Japan? Opening 24 hours (most of them) and offering a large variety of services is part of the reason why. 

Konbini Food and Drinks

Hot Food

A standard in konbini are fried chicken, steamed buns like nikuman, spring rolls, yakitori, and croquettes. Something to look forward to in autumn and winter is piping hot oden! 

Bentos and Healthy Meals 

Healthy and delicious food options for lunch with salads, bentos, onigiri, sandwiches, pasta, and more freshly prepared foods. 

Dessert

Major convenience store chains like Lawson, Family Mart and 7-Eleven have their own line of desserts. These delectables may cost a bit more than the standard shelved sweets and snacks but they are worth every yen.

Drinks

Aside from bottled and canned beverages, konbinis also offer “cafe” drinks. From hot coffee to smoothies and milkshakes, you can get them for low to moderate prices at konbini. Collaborations are also quite common - frozen Calpis and Godiva frappucino sounds good right? 

Postal Services

Have something to send but no post offices nearby? Most konbinis offer postal services including regular mail and package delivery. Some konbini even offer international mail service. 

Not just that, you can also collect parcels from convenience stores. This is especially useful when you’re expecting a package but not available to receive it. 

Bill Payment Services

Utility bills like water, electricity, gas can be paid at convenient stores. All you need to do is bring the bill and enough cash. Aside from that, you can also pay national insurance bills at the konbini.

Copy, Print, Scan, Fax Services

Multi-function printers in Konbini offer a wide range of services including photocopy (black/white, colour, photo, ID), scan, print, and even fax. 1 Sheet of black/white photocopy or print costs around 10 yen. Don’t forget to bring cash or coins. 

Save yourself a trip to the Ward Office. For holders of My Number Card, you can even print copies of your 

  • Residence Record (住民票 Jyumin-hyo)

  • Seal Registration Certificate (印鑑登録証明書 Inkan Toroku Syoumei-sho)

  • Tax Certificate (税証明書 Zei Syoumei-sho)

  • Family Registry (戸籍証明書 Koseki Shomei-sho)

and other official documents.

Ticket Terminals

Some konbinis have ticket terminals that sell tickets to everything from theme parks, sports matches, concerts, theater, and more. For tickets to Ghibli Museum, you can only get them through Lawson when in Japan. 

Lawson carries Loppi machines, Family Mart has Fami Port, and Seven Eleven’s ticketing machine is combined with their multifunction printer. 

Note that when buying a concert ticket online, chances are you will need to have the tickets printed out at any one of these ticketing machines or at the register before attending the actual concert. 

Free Wi-Fi Access

Need internet access ASAP? Konbini has you covered there too. You’ll need to register first before using but that’s a small price to pay for high-speed internet. 

Rest Area

Some konbini have a break area where you can sit down and enjoy your food, the wifi, or even charge your phone with their plug points. You’ll be expected to clean up after yourselves though so don’t make too much of a mess. 

Note that since the consumption tax was raised in October 2019, dining in at konbinis will incur a 10% consumption tax rate. If you’re planning to dine in, inform the cashier so that you will be charged accordingly. In contrast, non-dine-in incurs 8% consumption tax. 

Public Toilet 

Most konbini have public toilets which are extremely helpful to tourists and locals alike. Although usage is free, it is common courtesy to purchase something from the store. 

Note that In light of the current Coronavirus situation, many konbini have barred customers from using the toilet.

Biggest Konbini Chains in Japan

The Big 3 when it comes to Konbinis are 7-Eleven, Family Mart, and Lawson. This is remarkably evident when you visit Japan as they have stores everywhere. 

Lawson 

Originating from America, Lawson first entered the Japanese market in 1975. Their trademark colours are white and blue, whilst their logo depicts a bottle of milk. Aside from their convenience store chain, Lawson also has other types of stores: 

  • Natural Lawson

As their brand name implies, Natural Lawson with their target market being women, carries healthier and lower-calorie food options compared to their original brand. They also offer beauty and home products like soap and washing liquid made with natural ingredients 

  • Lawson Store 100

This is a 100 yen store selling everything from fresh produce like fruits and vegetables, food, drinks, home products, and more. They are mainly situated in residential areas and are a good alternative to supermarkets for grocery shopping. 

Lawson’s Finest Products 

Not sure what to get at Lawson’s? Why not try some of their original products?

Here are a selection of Lawson’s original creations:

  • Karaage-kun

Delicious bite-sized nuggets in various flavours: Original, Cheese, and Spicy Red. 

  • Machi Cafe

Offering freshly made drinks is Machi Cafe. Try their delicious coffee, hot chocolate, and teas available in hot and cold.  

  • Uchi Cafe 

Check out the refrigerated section for a nice treat of desserts and sweets. From fluffy cream rolls to chocolate mousse, pudding to chou cream, not to mention seasonal limited specials. 

7-Eleven 

In May 1974, America originating Seven Eleven opened its first store in Tokyo. Since then it has continued to develop and expand all over Japan. In February 2013, Seven Eleven had over 15,000 stores in Japan itself. 

7-Eleven’s Finest Products 

Photo Credit: (C) SEVEN-ELEVEN JAPAN CO.,LTD.

If it’s food you are looking for, you’ll be glad to know that Seven Eleven tops the rankings for best Konbini food amongst others. 

  • Nana Chicken

Crispy boneless fried chicken is the bestseller amongst Seven Eleven’s hot foods. 

  • Onigiri

Seven-Eleven’s own brand Onigiri always tastes amazing. It makes for a healthy delicious snack or lunch.

  • Bento 

A wide array of delicious bentos including pasta, doria, and gratin (the seafood gratin is especially divine). 

Family Mart

Family Mart, or more commonly called Famima, is the runner up to 7-Eleven for largest konbini chain in Japan. Amongst the Big 3, it is the only Japan originating convenience store chain founded by Seiyu. Their trademark colours are green and blue. No matter which Famima you enter, the same chirpy Famima Jingle will welcome you, a key identicator that you’ve entered a Famima (aside from the huge signboard). 

Family Mart’s Finest Products 

Photo Credit: © FamilyMart Co., Ltd. 
  • FamiChiki

A competitor to 7-Eleven’s Nana Chicken is FamiChiki. 

Hot Tip! Get the burger buns with tartar sauce in the centre to transform your FamiChiki into a Fami Burger. 

  • Soft Serve Ice Cream

Another topseller at Famima is their soft serve ice cream available in various flavours like vanilla and green tea. Look out for seasonal specials as well. 

  • Collaborations

Famima frequently collaborates with other brands to create unique desserts or drinks. Look out for limited time frappuccinos, desserts and the like.  

Other Konbinis in Japan

Aside from the above 3, there are many other konbinis in Japan, these are some of them:

Mini Stop

Mini Stop is a convenience store operated by Aeon Group. If you’re a frequent Aeon customer, consider getting a Waon Card which can be used here too. Aside from the staple konbini goodies, they also stock TopValu items 

Seicomart

Seicomart was first established in Hokkaido and is the most popular konbini chain there with more than 1,000 stores. Naturally, they stock a wide selection of Hokkaido products.

Daily Yamazaki

Daily Yamazaki was founded by Yamazaki Baking, a bread company. A wide selection of bread and pastries can be found in their stores.

Takeaway

We hope this article enlightened you on how vital konbinis are to residents of Japan. I’m sure that if you were to visit Japan, you will definitely experience the convenient services offered by one of the many, many konbinis here.

And if you’re looking for a part time job, convenience stores are a great place to work. Check out our informative article about it here: Part-time jobs in Japan: Working in Konbinis

 

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