Before our first trip to Japan, Rob & I kept hearing how great the convenient store’s are. Anyone who has ever been to Japan already knows this and raves about them but we were still skeptical. I mean, how great can a 7-11 really be? Before arriving, we couldn’t grasp that they would be that much better than what we were used to… but they are pretty great. There was a 7-11 across the street from our hotel, although it was called the 7-i (7-11 International? I’m not really sure) and I admit, over our four months living in the New Hotel Yokosuka, we spent a lot of time and money at the 7-i but they aren’t the only option. You also have Lawson’s, Family Mart’s and more. They still live up to being a convenient store, but they are probably even more convenient that the ones back home! First of all, they are everywhere, and if you’re somewhere that doesn’t have a convenient store, that place could easily have a convenient stand. For example, if you walk anywhere, you will pass the convenient store, but if you go near the train stations, you will find a mini version of one of these convenient stores, OR if you’re catching a train, there’s good chance you’ll see a convenient “stand” right there on the platform, featuring snacks & sodas from these same convenient companies.
Back to the actual stores– they still sell the basics you would find in any convenient store, like chips, cookies, candy, soda, even Cup Noodles. There are still warmers at the front of the store to buy your ready to go fried food, but the quality of these options is a little better, so they sell quicky and I think it’s rare you would purchase something that’s been sitting for any length of time. I’ve seen some options that might appeal to American taste buds, such as hash browns, corn dogs & pizza buns, but a lot of the options are better than that! You can buy karaage (Japanese fried chicken, Rob loves it), yakitori, pork buns and more.
The option for prepared salads, curries, pastas, rice dishes, egg dishes, udon, sandwiches, etc., was like a small grocery store. They offered shelves and shelves of these. You can buy little bags of fruit, fresh fruit, hard boiled eggs, raw eggs, ramen, packages of already cooked & seasoned chicken, a variety of cakes, puddings, pies, liquor, frozen french fries, frozen produce… it was impressive. I still tried to go to the grocery store for the majority of our food but there were definitely days where I just wanted to buy some already cooked rice, or a quick dessert to throw in Rob’s lunch, and would just run down to the 7-i. Our next trip to Japan didn’t have one of these as close to our hotel and it was definitely something we missed!
Vending machines in Japan are something to be marveled at. Some vending machines offer beer and cigarettes. Most vending machines offer you a variety of hot & cold choices. Do you want to grab some hot coffee on your way to work in the morning? Swing by a vending machine. It’s summer and you want cold coffee now? Done. Are you starving?? Grab some already hot soup from the vending machine. Ice cream? Some of them have it. Soda? Juice? Hot tea? Cold tea? Water?
The list goes on!