More than 50,000 convenience stores which are known as Konbini, can be found across Japan. There are some major operators, such as Seven Eleven, Lawson, Family Mart, and some other operators. Strong competition between them constantly produces new innovative products and services and makes Japanese convenience stores truly convenient.
Most convenience stores are open 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.
Convenience stores primarily sell food including a large range of meals, snacks and sweets, such as onigiri (rice balls), sandwiches, bread, chips, candy, obento (lunch boxes), instant ramen, microwave meals and hot foods like fried chicken, nikuman and oden. Some cold foods, such as cold lunch box, can be heated up by the store staff.
The convenience stores also sell many kinds of hot and cold beverages including soda, coffee, tea, water, sport drinks, juice, milk and vitamin drinks. The selection changes frequently and often varies by season as well.
Many convenience stores also sell alcoholic beverages including beer, happoshu, chuuhai, sake, shouchu and wine. They sell cosmetics, batteries, blank CDs and tapes, umbrellas, newspapers, magazines and manga,too. Some stores, particularly outside of the city centers, have a restroom.
Convenience stores also offer a wide range of services and are automated multi-purpose terminals.
– ATM:ATMs offer various banking services often also serves as the above mentioned multi-purpose terminals. ATMs found in convenience stores usually do not recognize foreign credit and debit cards, except at 7-Eleven.
– Copier/Fax :A copy machine and fax is available at most convenience stores. If not the ATM, it usually the copy machine which serves as the store’s multi-purpose terminal.
– Ticket Reservation: Tickets for sport events, concerts, theme parks, highway buses and other travel services can be purchased at the multi-purpose terminal.
– Digital Camera Prints: You can get prints of digital pictures by inserting your camera’s Memory card into the multi-purpose terminal. Depending on the store, the prints will be ready instantly or can be picked up later.
– Bill Payment: Many bills, including utility, tax, cell phone and insurance bills, can be paid at convenience stores.
– Delivery Services: It is possible to drop off or pick up deliveries (takuhaibin), such as parcels or luggage, at most of the convenience stores. A limited range of postal services, such as the sale of post cards and stamps, is also available.