There are more than 50,000 convenience stores in Japan! You might think that, with that many, you’d get tired of them, but we couldn’t get enough. Whether we were in Osaka, Kyoto, Hiroshima, or Tokyo, we always kept our eyes peeled for 7-Eleven, FamilyMart, or our favorite, Lawson. We were thrilled that there were several near us when we stayed at the Universal Port Hotel outside Universal Studios Japan!
We had heard about the greatness of Japanese convenience stores, but it wasn’t until our most recent trip that we truly appreciated them. Words can’t explain how many times they saved us in a pinch, and there isn’t a day that goes by where we don’t miss those stores. Ugh, can we just move to Japan already!?
Before we get into the things we love most about convenience stores in Japan, let’s talk about some of the services they provide.
- Tickets — You’ll find all kinds of tickets on sale. Highway buses, sporting events, concerts, and even theme park tickets (look for the after 6pm discounted tickets for Tokyo Disney) can be purchased at Japanese convenience stores!
- ATM — Most foreign credit and debit cards seem to work, especially at 7-Eleven stores, and we found the fees to be fair and the exchange rates to be fantastic!
- Bill payment — If you live in Japan, you can pay many of your bills at a convenience store!
- Delivery services — No, unfortunately, this does not mean they will deliver their delicious products. They will, however, allow you to drop off or pick up parcels or even luggage!
- WiFi — Connect to the store’s WiFi for free! A valuable tool when you’ve got a foreign phone in Japan!
Aside from the bill payment and delivery option, we used the three other services multiple times and were very happy!
Okay, the best thing about convenience stores in Japan is the food. All of the glorious, wonderful food. The quality is great and the prices are cheap, so can you really go wrong here? My daughter and I ate like queens for pennies, and we wouldn’t trade those Lawson meals for anything in the world. Take us back!
There are a variety of freshly made, usually fried, foods at the front of all convenience stores in Japan. Typically, they have the same types of things such as fried chicken pieces, corn dogs, hash browns, curry buns, meat skewers, and more.
Can we also add that we loved the fact that most of these places had counters, if not an actual table and chairs, where you could stop and eat? You could even find hand washing stations! This is important because the Japanese strongly disapprove of eating and drinking while walking down the street (Related: 10 Things You Need to Know Before Visiting Japan).
When we go on road trips, the first thing Josh does is find a 7-Eleven. We couldn’t believe there aren’t any in Idaho when we moved here, and we try to find a spot for a Slurpee whenever we can.
That being said, I have no idea if convenience stores in Japan have Slurpees. Why? Because I fell in love with everything else. The hot or cold drink selection is so good and we had a blast trying things we had never seen before. We loved finding hot tea in a bottle!
You could even buy cups of ice for custom, fresh brews of iced coffee. How cool is that? We didn’t get around to trying them the last time, but if (when!) we move there someday, I’m sure these will be a staple!
Our Favorite Japanese Convenience Store Fried Foods
Our absolute favorite thing to eat at convenience stores in Japan was the Jumbo American Dog. Yes, it just looks like a massive corn dog, but it was better than anything we’ve ever eaten stateside. We ate them at 7-Eleven, FamilyMart. and Lawson and they were all pretty much the same.
One of the best parts of the Jumbo American Dog is this pouch of ketchup and mustard that comes with it. All you have to do was snap it, squeeze, and the perfect amount of condiments would come right out. Amazing!
We liked the chicken pieces, but found them to be a little on the fatty side. Interestingly, we’d heard so much about the fried chicken at Japanese convenience stores before our trip, but in the end it was a battered hot dog that stole our hearts!
These delicious chicken poppers came with little toothpicks so you could keep your hands from getting greasy and avoid touching your food with dirty fingers. This made our OCD so happy. Just another reason why Japan was so good for my anxiety!
Our days often started with these yummy hash browns. They were definitely fried and crispy, but didn’t give us that greasy stomach feeling you sometimes get from McDonald’s. It was the perfect way to start the day!
The Best Ready-To-Heat Foods
Another super fantastic thing about convenience stores in Japan is that you can buy complete meals that are ready to heat and enjoy. There are microwaves in the shops that you can use to warm up your purchase (or you can ask them to do it behind the counter).
We tried a variety of items, but liked the spaghetti with meat sauce most. This dish is popular across Japan, and freshly made versions can even be found in theme parks such as Fuji-Q Highland! The sauce was savory, the noodles were al dente, and our minds were blown. How could something so good come out of a microwave at a convenience store?
Our second favorite was probably the chicken curry dish with gyoza on the side. We spent less than $10 for both meals (including drinks) and were full for hours. You just can’t beat that!
Baked Goods and Sweets at Japanese Convenience Stores
There’s a section of any convenience stores in Japan that showcase a variety of baked goods and sweets. You could eat them as is, or heat them up in a microwave. We preferred to do the latter, especially with melon pan (sweet bread shaped like a melon).
You can also find an awesome selection of ice cream cones. What we love best about these is that they come inside a convenient container. You don’t have to hold them with your dirty hands!
We didn’t try as much candy as we thought we would, but there was definitely a lot to choose from. We brought some home for the family and they gobbled it up before we could even ask for a piece ourselves!
Other Important Supplies
The Japanese strive to stay healthy and protect themselves (and others) from illness. It’s no surprise, then, that you can find a great selection of masks and over-the-counter medicines at convenience stores in Japan.
You can even purchase a spray that provides a protective barrier on masks to enhance the germ-fighting power! Again, this was like eye-candy for a couple gals with OCD, including a fear of contamination.
We were there in May, which is right around Japan’s rainy season. It was pouring one day, so we hopped into a 7-Eleven for shelter and to check for supplies. Not only did we find some highly-effective, crazy-affordable ponchos, but we grabbed a health-boosting drink to fight off the chills. So great!
Great for Train Rides
You’ll find convenience stores in Japan located at many train stations. Usually, these are 7-Eleven kiosks. It’s really practical to have these up on the platforms. It makes it easy to grab something quick while you wait for your train to arrive.
Many people purchased items so that they could have something to eat or drink on the train. By the end of our trip, we were pros at this. We loved warming up a nice melon pan or curry bun for our commute, and then having a nice drink to wash it down.
Have you ever checked out the magnificent convenience stores in Japan? Which one did you like most? Are there items that you still miss? Tell us about it by leaving a comment!
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