Conveni: Japanese convenience stores

Here’s a short list of what you can do at a conveni in Japan: post a package, buy concert/ sumo tickets, pay your health insurance, utility and tax bills, print photos, make photocopies, make instant ramen, buy a hot coffee ¥100, buy alcohol 24hrs, buy hot food, ice cream, toiletries, bananas, use it as your personal library for comics, porn, and magazines, and of course, find the craziest snacks you could imagine.

Convenience stores – or “conbeeni” in Japanese – are everywhere in Japan. I am still flabbergasted that people in Japan aren’t obese. Maybe it’s the tea? Is it the stairs? The tiny dishes of food you get at izakayas? There’s food everywhere and it’s so cheap. A group of Aussies that visited me years ago, lived entirely off conveni food while they were snowboarding in Nagano – they said it was great! Here’s a list of the major convenience stores in Japan: Seven-eleven, Family Mart, Lawson, Sunkus, Daily Yamazaki, Mini-stop, Lawson 100 – I’m sure I’ve missed one. Good meeting spots because there’s one on every corner.

There is no letter for “V” in Japanese (well, there’s a weird combination that results in a funny sounding “bu-wee” but they’re working on it) so lots of words end up being something else, e.g.  “bery good” – no berries it’s just exceptional, “bolunteer” – you won’t get paid, and “biolent” – nothing to do with science, just punching and kicking. “Convenience store” is no exception to this unfortunate phenomenon, and of course, for no particular reason, it gets abbreviated – or should I say, “abbrebiated.” We abbrebiate influenza to “flu”, but in Japan they say the entire word “infuruenza.” A lot of the time I have no idea what people are talking about.

Here’s a classic example: the Japanese word for tiger is “tora” and the word for horse is “uma, ” so the first time someone asked me, in English, “Was it a kind of tora-uma?” I had no idea what this magical tiger-horse could possibly refer to. Turns out tora-uma is the way trauma is spelled in the Japanese alphabet – so yeah, I get confused a lot.



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