There are an amazing number of convenience stores, 40,000 in Japan to be exact. Combini is the Japanese word for convenience store which actually comes from the word convenience - since the 'v' isn't used here, it's replaced with the 'b' and then just shortened up a bit or something like that. The ones most commonly seen every block or so include some familiar ones from the states and some new ones: Lawson, am/pm, Circle K, Family Mart and 7- Eleven. Why would I mention something that is so similar to the states? Well, we are able to accomplish quite a bit at these little shops and I learn everyday the endless amount of services that they provide. These are our favorite 10 things to accomplish at our Japanese 7-Eleven.
10. Observe the business men in their black suits at lunch time line up along the magazine rack and read comics
9. Make copies on the copying machine with a little help from the cashier to read the buttons - green does not necessarily mean 'print'
8. Get cash
7. Pay utility bills
6. Add money to the balance of the phone calling card
5. Use the Pasmo (public transportation card) to pay for purchases since nobody really uses credit cards here - ever.
4. Buy ice cream and candy - Coolish, an aluminum pouch filled with ice cream with a screw off lid and limited edition flavors of Kit Kat - these go fast!
3. Buy some onigiri for lunch - rice filled triangles with tuna, salmon etc...wrapped with nori and many other healthy lunch/dinner options that I haven't tried - yet.
2. Buy baseball tix or concert tix
1. Drop off the dry cleaning - Jack's lucky find - cheapest deal in town !