In Japan, you can’t walk a single block without passing at least one convenience store, or “konbini” (コンビニ) in Japanese. Japan has over 55,000 convenience stores, with close to 10,000 just in Tokyo alone! Chances are you’ve already heard about convenient Japan’s konbini are, but there are lots of other things that you can do at convenience stores besides just buy a quick snack or drink. Here is a list of things you can do at a Japanese konbini!
1. Copy/Fax/Printer Machines
If you need to print documents, photos, make copies, or even fax something, you can do all of that at the nearest convenience store. Most copy/fax printers have USB slots and memory card readers, and some are even comparable with smartphones! And, they have English settings too!
After you select your language at the start, you can easily pick out the service you are in need of, and the details. After you have completes your printing, copying, scanning, or faxing, all that is left is the payment! You can insert your cash and coins in the machine, and you’re done! Don’t forget to take your printed or scanned items, as well as your USB or memory card, before you go!
2. International ATMs
Short on cash? Most 24-hour Japanese convenience stores also have 24-hour international ATMs. These ATM always have English as a language option, but other languages may vary by chain. These ATMs generally accept Japanese bank cards as well as major international cards, including VISA, MasterCard, and UnionPay. Please note that it differs by ATM which cards can be used and which cannot. There also will likely be a small fee to withdraw money from your account.
3. Limited-Edition Souvenirs
Japanese people love the seasonally limited items at convenience stores. From special-flavored onigiri rice balls, to sweets and drinks, every month new limited goodies appear and offer new flavor experiences. During events such as New Year’s, summer festivals, and spring cherry blossoms, you’ll find a large selection of limited goods that match the spirit of the current season.
Collaborations fall into the category of limited items as well. Lately, popular brands such as Godiva and Häagen-Dazs have launched several sweets creations in collaborations with Japanese convenience stores. There are also often limited edition items that are collaborations with popular anime or manga characters as well.
4. Get Basic Toiletries
If you missed the last train home or find yourself spending the night somewhere unexpected, the Japanese konbini has you covered. Japanese convenience stores sell a variety of toiletries, such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, makeup, shampoo, hairspray, makeup remover, deodorant, and more. You’ll also find socks, underwear, shirts, and tights if you need some items for the following morning.
5. Mail/Ship Items
No post office nearby? Just head to your closest convenience store! ou can ship parcels through TA-Q-BIN from places such as 7-Eleven and FamilyMart. All you have to do is ask for a shipping form, fill it out, pay the fee, and that’s it.
Postcards and stamps are also sold here, in case you want to send a quick greeting home to friends and family. They can be bought right at the register. From there, all you have to do is put the letter in the store’s mailbox. If you don’t know how much the postal fee for your letter is, don’t hesitate to ask the staff.
You can also have goods that you’ve bought online from stores like Amazon or Rakuten shipped to a convenience store. Most will hold a package for up to 10 days! After that, it will be returned to the sender.
6. Pay Bills
If you’re living in a foreign country, things such as paying bills can be quite intimidating! Luckily, you can easily pay most bills at convenience stores – no Japanese language skills required! It’s as simple as walking into the store and handing the bill to the cashier. You can then pay for it in cash.
After you’ve payed, the clerk will put a dated stamp on your stub in three different places. Most bill stubs are perforated, and the clerk will do the tearing and all of that good stuff. He or she will keep two of the stamped stubs, and give you one (one copy is for you, one is for the convenience store’s records, and the other is of course for the company that’s billing you). The stamped stub is proof that you paid your bill on the date shown. It’s a good idea to keep this stub for records, just in case.
7. Buy Tickets
The vast majority of konbini in Japan have an electronic booth where all sorts of tickets can be purchased in advance. You can book tickets for various events and venues, including theme parks, concerts, shows, museums, sporting events, music festivals, and even movie tickets. Even the popular Tokyo Disneyland or Osaka’s Universal Studios Japan sell tickets via convenience store terminals, as well as various special exhibitions or exclusive shows.
If booking online is difficult because of the Japanese website, or you wish to pay for your tickets in cash, then a konbini is a good place to do that. After you select the ticket you want, the kiosk will print out a receipt. Take it to the cashier and pay for it, and you’ll get your tickets printed and handed right to you!
8. Use the Bathroom
While in Japan, be sure to take advantage of the clean and convenient customer restrooms. You might not see a restroom right away, but almost all konbini will have one. Just look for the easily-recognizable toilet icon somewhere on the wall above a doorway. And remember, unlike in other countries where you might have to purchase an item or pay a fee, the public toilets in Japan’s convenience stores are completely free to use.
9. Connect to Wifi
One perk that is especially convenient for tourists is free Wi-Fi. A lot of places in Japan are now adding a free Wi-Fi service in preparation for the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2020, and the number of Wi-fi hotspots increases every month. If you’re in need of internet, you can just head to the nearest 7-Eleven, as the free Wi-Fi there is easy to connect to and doesn’t require any special registration. FamilyMart also recently set up a Wifi network as well, called Famima_Wifi.
10. Sit and Dine
If you see a konbini that is two floors, it is likely that the entire 2F is dedicated to being an eat-in space. Feel free to take advantage of these free seats and tables to sit while you enjoy your refreshment. Hot water kettles and microwaves are also free to use for your purchases, so you really can sit down and enjoy a real meal! The ability to stop and rest inside an air-conditioned building can be a lifesaver when you are traveling nonstop.
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