2022.01.1410 Amazing Things You Can Do at Your Local Conbini!
Of all the neat and wonderful things in Japan, convenience stores, konbini or conbini for short, truly are the epitome of convenience. The longer you live here, the more you find yourself relying on all of the truly amazing functions they offer. Here are just 10 of the “Amazing Things You Can Eat, Buy or Do at Your Local Conbini.”
Send and Receive Packages
Many convenience stores sell stamps and have mail boxes outside (mine does), but regular mail is just scratching the surface. You can also bring large packages to be sent anywhere in Japan by home delivery, which is ultra-convenient if your not able to lug it over to the post office or delivery company office during business hours.
Print . . . Scan . . . Fax . . .
Once upon a time, we used to own a small printer.
This wondrous piece of technology does much more than printing and copying documents. You can scan, print out photos, and more importantly, create passport and ID photos! Moreover, these machines accept a variety of media besides USB, such as SD memory cards and CDs, and recently, data transfer from over the internet with special apps or websites.
Got telephone, health insurance, residence tax, utility or other such bills? Most, if not all, konbinis around Japan will let you pay for them right at the cash register, without any transaction fee whatsoever. This is a truly remarkable service that let you skip the lines and limited hours at the bank or post office. While direct debit is also handy for paying bills, if you prefer to pay in cash, doing it a konbini is the way to go.
Get Instant Cash
Many konbini feature ATM machines in their stores, and in largely cash-dependent Japan, I cannot understate the usefulness of this service! Regional bank ATMs sometime close early (why do ATMs have business hours?!). Megabank accounts are great if you live in a big city, but branches are few and far between in the country’s rural parts.
Fortunately, if you are ever short on cash, you can pop over to the nearest konbini and reload your wallet. Some banks even allow konbini withdrawals without a transaction fee, though you’d have to check with your institution (conditions may apply). This is also a really useful for foreign travelers, as at least 7/11 and some other konbini, ATMs will accept foreign ATM cards.
Shop for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
Convenience stores certainly carry a lot of processed food. After all, they’re not trying to replace supermarkets anytime soon, and their products need to be saleable for long periods of time.
But a welcome trend in recent years has been the introduction of fresh fruits and vegetables, making it easier to find healthy snack options. Some local store carries fresh bananas as well as enough carrots and potatoes etc.!
Choose from Spirits, Brews, even a Wine Selection
Sure, konbini selling alcohol is nothing new, but the selection of alcohol has gotten much better. Extending well beyond cheap beer and chu-hi drinks, it’s not at all uncommon to see bottles of sho-chu, whiskey, and wine.
While much of that wine may be from a certain South American nation renowned for its budget bottles, some local convenience stores even carry some more expensive stuff – in this case, a bottle of Muscat Bailey A (a Japanese grape variety) produced in the neighboring prefecture, Ishikawa. There’s even sparkling wine as well over in the refrigerated case. Cheers to that!
Purchase Underwear . . . and Other Overnight Goods
Caught out late without a chance to run home to change clothes? It’s always nice to know that many konbini sell socks, underpants, undershirts, pantyhose and other garments. Sure, the selection is limited, but at least it will cover you, literally and figuratively, until you do make it home.
On that note, you’ll also find plenty of other short-term necessities like phone chargers, shaving cream, razors, and even tiny bottles of contact lens cleaning solution.
This list could easily be much longer, especially as intense competition means Japan’s konbini are constantly adding new products and services like free WiFi, more payment options, and a lineup of desserts. The next time you have a chance to visit one, have a look around… and prepare to be amazed!