I was cleaning up my computer and found that I had a few things from my time in Japan still lingering in the ‘To Be Blogged’ folder. It was fun to revisit those times.
Anyone who has ever spent time in Japan is fully aware that the number of convenience stores lining the streets is absurd. These things actually are everywhere, and it’s only after living there that I came to appreciate the happiness they brought to my life, and now the bottomless void left without them. When we Americans think of a convenience store, we tend to picture something like a gas station, that sells the basket of common goods one might need on the fly. The Japanese take that concept to a whole new level: I could have things mailed there, buy concert tickets, pay bills, all 24/7. This is a pretty typical marquee.
While there are several different chains – Lawson, Sunkus, 7 Eleven, Family Mart, Daily Yamazaki, Mini Stop, to name a few – they scarcely vary at all in offerings. They will all sell bento lunches, clean white dress shirts for the businessmen who didn’t make it home the night before, the expected treats & snacks, and of course a bevy of beverages. When strolling from one bar to another, the ability to pop in and top up with a chu-hi is also a fantastic perk. These rice balls are a Japanese staple as well.
With such a massive number of people walking through the doors each day, there is a lot of product trial and error aimed at them. The rate at which new products are introduced and discontinued is really quite impressive, and I made it a point to try out whatever odd ones they had. Salty Watermelon, Salt & Lychee, Espressoda, Apple+Asian Pear & Hops, Acerola and Hibiscus, and Snow Orange, for example. Some were good, some not so much.
While I was living in Takamatsu, 7 Eleven decided to expand their territory to include the Shikoku region. Now, I know what you’re thinking of course, that ‘This is a BIG deal!’, and you wouldn’t be the only one. I swung by in the days after they opened to see what all the hubbub was about. It had all cooled a bit since the police were direct traffic in and out of the parking lot on opening day, but there was still plenty of excitement. I had also been conned into buying what I thought was a point card, but was in fact worthless for my purposes. They were giving out some freebies, but I managed to forget a certain piece of paper, keeping them out of my hands and souring the whole experience. I filmed my visit for some reason, so ‘let’s watching’. I made very little effort to speak Japanese.