A guide to Japanese convenience store shopping

A Lawson's convenience store

Lawson’s convenience store

There is an abundance of convenience stores found all over Japan in both urban and rural areas. You can find the most interesting array of products inside these stores. As a tourist traveling between different parts of Japan you will come to know the convenience stores well. They really are quite helpful when you need to refuel on the go while sightseeing. On arriving in Japan there were a few things I found to be of interest such as the fact that brown bread is extremely difficult to find. At the convenience store what you will find is sliced white bread that comes in packs of between four and eight slices. As for spreads to put on the bread what you will usually find is two or three different kinds of jam and peanut cream. Peanut cream is a sweeter version of peanut butter; it is more like something you would use in a dessert. If you really can’t live without peanut butter you will have to find it in an import shop for about four hundred Yen. Aside from bread there are other options available. A great Japanese snack is onigiri, it is a white rice triangle wrapped in seaweed with a filling inside such as pickles or tuna. You can usually buy them for about one hundred and thirty Yen or less. I found them to be a good substitute for a sandwich.

Something which I find quite enjoyable is that you can buy alcohol from these stores for about half of what you pay in a restaurant. What makes this even better is that drinking in public is not illegal, so you can buy a couple of beers and sit in the park with your friends and drink.

Lawson's snacks

Snacks! Cheap and tasty!

Lawson is one of the most prominent convenience stores. There are actually a few different kinds namely Lawson StationNatural Lawson and Lawson Store 100Lawson station is the original store, whereas Natural Lawson is geared towards people who are more health conscious. You can find more fresh fruit and vegetables here as well as low calorie meal options. Lawson Store 100 is my personal favourite where almost everything in the shop is 105 Yen. What is really useful is that a lot of the food states the calorie content on the front of the packet so you know what you are getting yourself into. However if you have a sweet tooth like me and don’t care for things like calories, you will certainly enjoy the abundance of confectionery available in these stores.

What really makes these stores convenient is not just that there is always one around the corner. It is that you can actually prepare yourself a warm meal. Microwaves and kettles are usually the standard for these stores. There are many options available to you, whether you buy a microwave meal or want some instant miso soup or ramen; it can all be prepared inside the shop.

Needless to say I am a huge fan of Japanese convenience stores. There is a certain comfort in knowing that you will never go hungry or thirsty while in Japan, you can always count on finding a convenience store.