Konbini, or convenience stores, can be found in almost every corner of a typical Japanese city street. As tourists, we frequent these shops almost every day, to stock up on snacks and drinks for the night. The 3 major Konbini are 7-11, Family Mart, and Lawson, with a combined of more than 50,000 stores throughout Japan.
We will do a review based on our own experience on this article by Matcha.jp and provide an honest comparison.
Top on our list is Lawson. With over 11,000 stores across the 47 prefectures in Japan, Lawson has a huge presence in Japan, especially urban areas.
Majority Konbini shops in Japan offer snacks like fried chicken and oden over the counter. Lawson’s fried chicken is absolute best among the 3. Another of our favourite is the special limited edition Choco pie that is exclusive to Lawson only.
Lawson also has some loyalty contests for frequent customers. When I was in Japan, Lawson bread and pastries were my daily breakfast, earning a sticker everyday. Upon collecting 40 of them, I redeemed a Snoopy plate.
The Loppy vending machine found in Lawson stores are also the only place to reserve and buy tickets to popular destinations like the Ghibli Museum and Doraemon Museum.
2) Family Mart
My favourite Haagen Dazs strawberry ice cream can only be found at Family Mart, that alone is enough to put it second on our ranking list.
And who can forget the distinct welcome music when you enter a Family Mart shop? A superb marketing technique. We think this is what makes Family Mart unique and recognisable.
Family Mart also carry their own range of breads under the Famima cafe which are really yummy.
7-11 has exclusivity to several of our favourite purchase like the Kose series of face wash. However, recently, these can be found in our local 7-11 branches here in Singapore too.
Another exclusive item are the special cup noodles such as Nissin Nakiryu one star michelin cup noodles and the Santouka cup noodles.
If you ever run out of cash, there are international ATM at most 7-11 branches where you can withdraw Yen.
Besides the above Top 3, there are many other Konbini in Japan, commonly found in the rural areas. All of them are equally good and offer more or less the daily necessities.
Which Konbini is your favourite?