Convenience stores, popularly known as “Konbini” to most Japanese people as well as foreign residents, are considered an integral part of living in Japan. They offer a tremendous number of products, from sanitary items to your favorite chicken sandwich, and services like allowing you to pay your utility bills or withdraw money from their ATMs. There are currently about 50,000 convenience stores across Japan, with the biggest chains being 7-Eleven, Lawson, FamilyMart, NewDays, MiniStop, and Daily Yamazaki. The most well-known and sought-after stores are the big three: 7-Eleven, Lawson, and FamilyMart.

Why are Convenience Stores Truly Convenient?

Being Open All Day and All Night

One very important aspect of their popularity is the fact that they are open 24/7, all year round. They cater to people of all walks of life, such as early risers or late sleepers. If you are in a rush and about to be late for work, simply drop by one of the nearest konbini and grab an onigiri (rice ball) along with water or a drink.

Tasty Delicacies

Japanese convenience stores are unique because they offer a great selection of high-quality and fresh food. There are sandwiches, ready-to-eat bento, and hot food in transparent shelving, making it easy for customers to see everything. You can find all kinds of pastries, from raisin bread and pudding to matcha-flavored cakes or ice creams!

Bentos or Lunch Boxes

Bento is a Japanese word that means lunch box. It’s a pretty common sight in any convenience store and is probably their most popular food purchase. In the past, most wives or mothers would prepare neat and nicely presented lunch boxes for their husbands and children, always including the right amount of side dishes containing vegetables, meat, and rice. In our current fast-paced world, most parents work and not every household can prepare a bento for their families daily.

Convenience stores and supermarket bento have become a thing and have thrived to this day. One advantage is that many of the bento sold in stores are significantly marked down after 8 PM, making them economical by helping you save time and money.


Other Transactions

ATM Services

Besides buying your favorite morning meal, you can also pay your bills at the convenience store. Utility invoices and residence taxes are usually sent to your house, and you can directly pay them at the counter. Just make sure your invoice has a barcode and you haven’t missed the payment deadline. If you find yourself stuck somewhere and realize that you’ve spent the last of your cash, simply look for a konbini near you. Most of them have ATMs that accept both domestic and international cards, with a small fee. Additionally, if you have your Suica or Pasmo card, you can use it as an alternative to cash or credit when paying for items.

Package Delivery

The post office is not your only option if you need to send a parcel or mail—you can also do so in many convenience stores! You can send and receive parcels using services like Yamato Transport or Japan Post directly from the store.

Printing or Photocopying Services

Need to print or photocopy a document but don’t have a printer at home? Most konbini offer these services for as low as 10 yen per page. If your school or workplace does not allow you to print personal files, 7-Eleven can save you from your worries.

Other Customer-Friendly Amenities

Free Wi-Fi

Almost all konbini offer free Wi-Fi to customers and non-customers alike. There’s usually a registration email sent to your email for verification before you can access their Wi-Fi, but the process is very seamless and easy. Be cautious about using your phone for banking or other sensitive transactions, as most public Wi-Fi does not offer full security and protection from hackers.

Seating Areas

Not all convenience stores have a designated seating area for eating or relaxing, depending on your location. However, many shops in central Tokyo provide seats, stools, and tables for those salarymen taking their lunch break outside the office. Lawson seems to offer this space more frequently compared to other competitors.

Comparing Different Convenience Stores

So, what are these top three convenience stores like, and what unique products do they offer that separate them from the rest?


7-Eleven is probably the most popular konbini and is a household name around the world, with branches all over Asia, South America, and parts of Europe. Their “Seven Premium” line offers an amazing array of products for very affordable prices. Their brewed coffee is also quite well-known, although it gets a mixed reaction from most first-time drinkers.


Lawson, on the other hand, is known for their “Uchi Café,” which include top-quality desserts like cake rolls and cream puffs that are to die for and have accumulated a large following. They also have other specialty stores targeting different consumers, such as their 100-yen shop, which appeals to most people who love buying reasonably priced goods, and Natural Lawson, which focuses on healthy and organic food but is mostly more costly than your normal Lawson Store.


FamilyMart has its own personal line called “Famima Sweets,” which consists of an abundance of seasonal desserts and not your typical baked goods. One of their most famous unique offerings is “Famichiki,” a type of fried chicken that is loved by both Japanese and foreigners alike. FamilyMart is almost as widespread in Japan as 7-Eleven, with Lawson taking third place in terms of the number of branches across the country.


Japanese convenience stores are definitely a lifesaver and live up to their name by providing the convenience we need in our daily lives. Whether it’s paying bills, getting cash, buying ready-to-eat meals, or sending parcels to friends, a konbini is there for you!