Convenience store

Konbini Convenience

Many visitors to Japan always seem to gravitate towards convenience stores or konbini, for their needs. Whether it’s for toiletries, a beverage or a snack, they all seem to be amazed with the selections and services offered in a konbini.

Convenience store selections with some on hand. cash

Konbini services.

Ken Mochimaru, head of Lawson corporate communications, perfectly sums up the convenience store culture in Japan by saying:

“The ongoing diversification of customer needs through the years has made today’s convenience store much more than a convenient place to shop,” he said. “As a facility whose lights stay on 24 hours a day, and which serves as a reliable cornerstone of community infrastructure in emergencies and times of disaster, the convenience store has emerged as an essential part of people’s daily lives. The role it is expected to play has expanded to unprecedented significance.”

With more than 50,000 convenience stores located across Japan that constantly offer novel products and services, and are open 24/7, it really makes konbini truly convenient place to get whatever you need, anytime, and it has gained cultural significance for these reasons.

Check out some facts about convenience stores in Japan:

7-Eleven is the most popular konbini in Japan

7-Eleven is Japan’s largest convenience store with 20,000 outlets across the country. 7-Eleven is an American chain of convenience stores founded in 1927 and was named Tote’m Stores between 1928 and 1946. 70% of the company was acquired by Japanese affiliate Ito-Yokado in 1991 and was reorganized as a subsidiary of Seven-Eleven Japan Co., Ltd in 2005, and is now held by Chiyoda, Tokyo-based Seven & I Holdings Co., Ltd.

Take away bento

Take-away bento at a convenience store in Japan.

Lawson’s was once an American dairy store in the U.S.

Lawson is one of the three biggest convenience store chains in Japan today. In 1939, a dairy producer from Ohio named J.J. Lawson came up with the idea that instead of delivering milk to homes around the country, why not open a store that allows customers to come and get their milk instead. As the business grew, the store added more household staples to the shelves eventually paving the way for the chain into becoming one of the more popular convenience stores.

In 1975, the Lawson brand partnered with Japanese retailer Daiei to open a franchise in Toyonaka City. The popularity of the chain grew by leaps and bounds in Japan but waned back in the U.S. eventually leading to bankruptcy. Lawson’s remains one of the three leading convenience store chains in Japan.

FamilyMart and a gym

FamilyMart is a subsidiary of FamilyMart UNY Holdings, Ltd. Which also own the supermarket chain Uny, in Japan. Everyone may have a favorite konbini but there is very minimal difference between the three biggest convenience store chains in the country. FamilyMart is planning to open 300 FamilyMart branded 24-hour Fit & Go gyms. Something to look forward to.