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Convenience Stores / コンビニ


Since Seven-Eleven opened its first store in Japan in 1973, convenience stores have evolved into multi-functional super stores, now referred to as Conbini (pronounced as Con-be-nee). If you are single and looking for a place to live, the accessibility to convenience stores and public transportation likely would be two important criteria for decision making. In Tokyo (or other metropolitan areas), you will find Conbini at almost every street corner which makes you wonder how the seemingly excessive number of Conbini could sustain their business. As of 2022 data, there are about 57,000 stores countrywide represented by 20 different brand names. The largest chain is Seven-Eleven, followed by Family-Mart and Lawson.

From the outside, there aren’t many differences between convenience stores in Japan and the US, but they are quite different if you compare functions and service quality. Japanese convenience stores offer high quality fast-food, mailboxes, courier service, banking, office services (e.g., copying, faxing), box-office for event tickets and even the issuance of some government certificates such as proof of residence. Yes, they are all-in-one mini stores servicing their customers 24/7. Most services would be irrelevant for tourists but you can at least appreciate the gourmet food section. The offerings all are neatly packaged, and you can find a variety of food from onigiri (rice balls) to sandwiches, and a selection of bento-box meals that are healthy, tasty and reasonably priced. The cashier will happily warm them up for you with a smile. One item I must have every time I visit Japan is a jumbo cream puff. I don’t know what their secret is, but they make the best cream puffs. Food items always are very fresh since they are constantly rotated and restocked by local vendors. For a single person, it is truly one-stop shopping that is a part of their lifestyle. This convenience, however, might be one of the contributing factors for the dramatic increase of the percentage of single households in Japan. In Tokyo, over 50% (which is unfathomable) of households are one person households. This phenomenon is becoming a serious social issue as well as a declining birthrate and aging population. The excessive number of convenient stores might correlate (and contribute) to the increasing number of single households.

Japanese, language, culture, convenient store, Seven-Eleven, Lawson
Family Mart -one of most popular convenient stores


A: いらっしゃいませ。こんにちは。


B: はい。

A: お弁当(べんとう)は温(あたた)めますか?

B: はい、お願(ねが)いします。

A: お箸(はし)をおつけしましょうか

B: いいえ、結構(けっこう)です。家(うち)にありますから。あっ それからアマゾンの小包(こづつみ)が届(とど)いているはずなんですが。

A: スマホのバーコードをご提示(ていじ)ください

B: はい、これです。(スマホを見せる)

A: 少々(しょうしょう)お待(ま)ちください。 はい。ありました。どうぞ。

B: ありがとう。  


A: お買い物(おかいもの)の合計(ごうけい)は1,530円(えん)になります。

B: アップルペイは使(つか)えますか?

A: はい、大丈夫(だいじょうぶ)です。 ご来店(らいてん)ありがとうございました。またお越(こ)しください


おにぎり- a rice ball. Normally, triangle shaped. A variety of ingredients wrapped by rice. Popular ingredients include plum pickles, konbu (see seaweed article), salmon flakes, bonito flakes, and mentai (pollack roe).

お買い上げ n. purchased goods. seller side’s reference of their customer’s purchase. You don’t use this word for your own purchase.

以上ですか “is this all (of your purchase)” Discuss other meaning of 以上

は p. this is not a subject maker. “as to” would be a better translation. Here, “as to Obento, shall I warm it up?”  Can we use を instead? How would that change the meaning of the sentence?

温める v. to warm up. Discuss the intransitive form of this verb.

しましょうか Shall I. by raising the end intonation, it creates an offer.

結構です “no thank you” normally preceded by いいえ

はず  supposed to happen (or has happened). Plain form v.+はず 

スマホ n. smartphone

ご提示ください Please submit. ご+volitional noun(orお+ますform v.)+ください creates a request in a respect form. Politer than 提示してください。 Other examples: お待ちくだい。お越しください。ご来店ください。

少々 a little. politer than 少し、ちょっと

になる turns out to be. Here, “your purchased amount turned out to be 1,530 yen.” It’s a customary phrase used by the casher.

ご来店 n. visiting the store ごis a beautifying particle. For this particular word, ごis always attached.

お越しください – literally means “come over please”. Store owners/clerks often use this type of phrase asking customers to return to the store. More elaborate phrase would be またのご来店をお待ち申し上げております。I will look forward to your return visit.


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