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International students in Japan often work part-time to make a living while studying. Of course, there is an array of part-time jobs in Japan. Among the common choices for part-time jobs would be jobs in konbini - or convenience stores in Japan. Here’s a crash course to know more.
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Thousands of convenience stores can be found in Japan, called konbini. These konbinis offer various products and services, which in turn offers employment to students who are willing to engage in part-time occupations. In addition, konbinis differ from each other and can be found almost anywhere; hence, a wide scope of job placements is available for you.
People cannot live without convenience stores; in major cities like Tokyo, it seems like there’s one on almost every corner. Japan established its retail industry for years and has often been revered as being one of the top retail industries worldwide, due to their excellent service. Millions of consumers flock in and out of the market every day, and Japan actively competes to provide its clients with an excellent service when it comes to department stores, shopping malls, and merchandise.
Its numerous, almost countless convenience stores generate a lot of its wealth since the stores live up to their name by being open 24/7 and are constantly stocked with not only food but daily necessities. It’s so easy to drop by the convenience store for a snack or a coffee, or to pick up ingredients when the supermarkets are already closed.
Japan has several convenience store chains, some limited to certain regions. However 3 of them dominate nationwide, with many people having a preference as to which one is their favorite!
This one is probably the most famous globally as they have 7/11s in the US and other countries as well. Marked as the largest convenience store chain operating in the country with over 21,000 stores in Japan, they are open 24 hours a day and offer a wide variety of products. There are lots of instant meals you could find in this store, perfect when you are in a hurry. They also have an amazing assortment of small side dishes, which is advertised as the perfect accompaniment to your meal. Their sweets are also praised as being above standard for convenience store sweets.
In-store is an ATM machine that you could utilize to avoid long queues in banks or to withdraw money when bank ATMs have closed. There are also wifi services for your internet usage, convenient especially if you decide to eat in.
※ Seven Eleven - Japan ※ Seven Eleven - Japan, “Number of domestic stores”
Next to 7/11 as the largest convenience store is Family Mart, often called Famima in Japan. They have over 16,500 stores in Japan alone and over 8000 overseas. Just like 7/11, this franchise offers an array of goods. Among their most popular include their boneless fried chicken, called Famichiki, and their frozen drinks, called Frappe. Here, customers are being serviced with E-net ATM machines for the following credit cards- JCB, Visa, MasterCard, American Express, etc.
※ FamilyMart ※Family Mart, “Number of Shops”
Lawson has over 14,000 servicing stores since its established date in 1975. What you find unique in this store is their method of indexing the purchase history of clients, helping them deal with what people mostly prioritize.
Lawson also advertises beauty health products and fresh goods that excellently address the need of customers. They even have a premium version of this convenience store, called Natural Lawson, that focuses on healthier foods and snacks for a slightly higher price as well as as a 100 yen version of Lawson called Lawson 100. (These are a little harder to find so you should look them up if you want to go to one).
※ Lawson, "Stores in Japan" ※ Lawson, "Oversea Stores"
Convenience stores in Japan are highly in need of employees, and are always open to hiring foreigners. In fact, it’s one of the jobs where you often see international students working.
Working in a convenience store could be the best option. Japan equally offers part-time jobs to its citizens and foreigners carrying student visas - allowing 28 hours of labor in a week, and to other holders of selected visas like the working visa. Since convenience stores under different companies are located in almost all corners of Japan, there are lots for students to choose from.
Most of the convenience stores open 24 hours a day, hence, adjusting your school hours and shift schedule is flexible. Some stores don’t require complete fluency in the Japanese language, for as long as you are willing to learn, hardworking and can carry out your tasks sufficiently. And it’s a great way for you to practice Japanese communication, as you will be working with Japanese staff as well.
All 3 major convenience stores, Family Mart, Seven Eleven and Lawson permit online application on their official website, so applying for a job there will be convenient for you, especially when you already have the requirement to get a part-time job. When you apply, you can even narrow down your search by location, time available and other conditions you may require for the job.
Compensations may vary depending on the company, and even the exact store you choose to work for, but the average deal usually ranges from 700 to 1,000 yen, and as a tip, graveyard shifts can help you get a higher payout as it can amount up to 1500 yen.
Interacting with a lot of Japanese locals is a giveaway when working in convenience stores. Considering that these retails are the go-to of most people, you will learn a lot from their choices of living and acquire basic lessons that will contribute a lot to your vocabulary. Working with people could buy you some time to master your skills in communication by having better access to study their language on a daily basis, and most of all, the chance to experience and understand what it is like to be living in Japan.
Aforementioned, for college or university goers, a student visa authorizes you to work 28 hours a week, and you should follow this accordingly. Other visas like the working holiday visa, specified visas for other full time jobs, etc may allow you to participate in part-time occupations. Listed are the miscellaneous documents also needed for your application in addition to the actual application:
Permission to work
Japanese Language Certificate
Other documents can be obtained in the Bureau of Immigration if needed so be sure to secure those papers.
※ Japan Study Support, "Living Guide for International Students in Japan"
Targeting your job location to be near your home or school is a must and could cut your time of travel and transportation expenses.
You should not compromise your education with your working hours, hence, designating a pliable working schedule could help you a lot. But as the limit is 28 hours a week and the job not too demanding, managing your time should be doable.
Learning the key Japanese phrases for customer service eases your interaction with customers. But the other staff are there to support you if assistance is necessary.
Smile and be friendly.
Accepting a part-time job in a convenience store as a student can be a challenge, especially at first, but it will take a part in your cost of living and the compensation could be satisfying. It may not be easy as there’s lots to learn - since convenience stores in Japan offer so many different services as mentioned in the article - but your effort will definitely be worth it.
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