Recently a new ‘Lawson’ store opened in my neighborhood so I thought it would be worthwhile to write a quick post about conbini. The conbini (the Japanese convenience store) really do take the word convenient to whole new levels; for a start there is just so many of them in Tokyo. From my apartment I can get to 5 easily within just one minute of leaving the building. (There is one Daily store literally just across the road, a Lawson and a Family Mart nearby and also 2 7-Eleven stores. The competition between each rival store is pretty tough and each company are trying new things to gain a larger market share. The good thing about Lawson is Loppi – it’s a machine which you can use to order tickets for events such as concerts, and I think it’s the only way of obatining a ticket for the Ghibli Museum. The only catch with Loppi is that everything is in Japanese – I tried using it to get my Jimmy Eat World ticket and it was next to impossible for me to read the kanji, but luckily I asked one of the store assistants to help me through each of the options.
Family Mart also have a pretty useful machine (which is thankfully also in English) which you can use to charge phone cards (I’ve been using a phone card for international calls, they’re much cheaper than calling directly – I learned the hard way when I made some direct calls to my banks in England, the phone bill for my mobile phone almost gave me a heart attack!!) I have also heard that each conbini also has its own service for sending packages and mail. Most of the food in each of the conbini seem pretty similar to me but I usually go to Lawson. Oh yeah one last thing, you’ll also find ATMs in some large conbini- I haven’t used them before so I don’t know if they charge any money for taking out cash.