An Ode to 7/11 in Japan

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If there’s anything I’ve learned from all the time I’ve spent in Japan, it’s the value of their convenience stores or conbini (コンビニ) as it’s called in Japanese. In any kind of emergency, my internal GPS is now able to locate a conbini in five minutes without having to check my phone. But it’s not like my internal compass has to work very hard because, like Starbucks in America, there’s a convenience store on every street corner. That said, I’d like to take this time to express my gratitude for all the convenience stores in Japan, 7/11 in particular (honorable mentions include Family Mart and Lawson too), and tell you why I love them so much.

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Dear 7/11,

Like I said, thank you for having a myriad of locations throughout the country and in turn, being so dependable. You’re kind of like Dunkin Donuts in Boston with 100 locations in a 5 mile radius. Whenever I see your orange, red, and green banner, it’s like a ray of sunshine on a bad day. Even when I can spot one from the shinkansen, in the middle of nowhere, my heart skips a beat.

Thank you for being so clean. Sometimes I think I could contract a disease from stepping into a 7/11 store in America. You put them to shame.

Thank you for having ATMs that accept foreign cards. Can’t express my gratitude enough for saving me when I discovered that not many banks or ATMs accept my debit card. Without you, I wouldn’t have been able to buy my morning, red bean mochi bun.

Not that I’ve had to use your printing services, but it’s good to know that I can come to you for my 911 printing, faxing, and copying needs.

Thank you for being one of few places that has a garbage can. P.S. – is there a garbage bin finder app that I don’t know about? If so, please advise.

Thank you for providing cheap dining alternatives when I didn’t feel like sitting down in a restaurant or cooking. From soba, okonomiyaki, and dumplings to chips, chocolate, and mochi balls, you always have my back to satiate my smorgasbord of cravings. Speaking of which, your naturally salted potato chips are the bomb!

On the same token, thank you for having more snacks than I have the stomach or time to try and an actual seating area to consume said snacks.

Thank you to all the staff for being so polite, naively thinking that I speak or understand Japanese, and pretending not to be offended when I say I don’t want you to heat up my to-go meal. Your sweet greetings always make me feel welcome. Although it gets annoying to hear “Irrashaimase, konnichiwa, douzo” after a while, I still appreciate it. It lets me know you care!

Thank you for stacking my items so carefully and folding the bag so neatly. Everything is an art in Japan, and the way you care for every minute detail makes me rethink a lot of aspects of my life.

Above all, thank you for being open 24 hours a day. Like a best friend, I know I can count on you even in the most desperate of times. Also, even though you don’t sell slurpees, I forgive you.

Love,
Kimi

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