The art of the convenience store has truly been perfected in Japan. Not only will they have those random items you might need during your trip, but they offer some unique and delicious food options that you must try when in Japan.
While convenience stores in other countries might have questionable menu options, Japan’s konbinis offer fresh, tasty options that you can grab to snack on while on the go.
The employees at these stores are stringent about quality, so you can be satisfied that the food is safe to eat and as fresh as possible.
A konbini is a Japanese convenience store, and its purpose is somewhat similar to convenience stores around the world.
For locals in Japan, the convenience store is not just a stop when you need something specific and don’t want to go to the grocery store or department store.
Rather, people from Japan will stop by convenience stores for treats, for a quick meal, and also for their everyday needs.
Their food tends to be less expensive than foods that can be found at restaurants, making it a great budget-friendly way to eat out.
There are a few convenience store chains that can be found throughout Japan. One of the more well-known ones in other parts of the world would be 7-Eleven.
Other popular chains include Family Mart, Mini Stop, Circle K, and Lawson.
If you are looking for a quick lunch, but don’t have time to sit down at a restaurant, you can find a variety of bento boxes at convenience stores.
They offer a more balanced, quick meal than grabbing fast food. Most bento boxes will consist of a combination of meat, rice or potatoes, and some vegetables.
Bento boxes will usually be delivered to convenience stores in the morning, so you are getting boxes that have been freshly prepared shortly before you’ll end up purchasing one. These are a staple of Japanese cuisine.
Rice balls, or onigiri, are an immensely popular snack in Japan, and they can be made with just about any type of filling you could imagine.
Rice balls can be sweet, savory, spicy, or adventurous. Mostly the rice balls will be wrapped in seaweed or nori, while some are more plain.
Some of the fillings or flavors you can find include egg, bean paste, and fish such as cod, tuna, or salmon.
A sando sounds like a fun slang term for a sandwich, and that’s not too far off. A sando is a premade sandwich made with very soft and fluffy bread.
These sandos can have different types of filling, but you will usually find an egg, or tamago, sandos easily. They are especially satisfying for those mornings when you don’t have time to eat breakfast.
If you’re in Japan at the beginning of the year, between January and April, you’ll want to seek out a strawberry sando. This delicious combination of fresh strawberries and whipped cream is a delight.
Oden is a somewhat traditional dish that is very similar to a Japanese hot pot, or nabe, and it has been served often since the 1600s.
You will see all of the cooked ingredients that you can put into your own bowl to customize your oden bowl. The food is cooked in a hot broth to add flavor and moisture.
You might find a variety of different meats, vegetables, and other additions that you can add to your oden, and you will also find seasonings and sauces.
This is a must-have if you are walking through Japan in the winter, as oden will warm you right up.
Believe it or not, you can find some very delectable noodle dishes at convenience stores in Japan.
Instant noodles are popular in Japan, similar to how they are in other countries. You can find these inexpensive dried noodles in various types of packaging.
All you need is hot water, which you can often find at the convenience store, and you have a delicious, hot meal that you can carry around with you.
You’ll be able to find some of your favorite brands that you can shop for from all over the world, and you can rest assured that these instant noodles will surprise you with how good they taste, despite being instant.
While sushi wasn’t always available at convenience stores, it has been a staple for many years at almost all convenience stores across Japan.
Being that sushi is a popular dish that visitors to Japan seek out, it’s no wonder they made an accessible option that can be taken on the go.
Mochi fuwa Pancake
A nice little breakfast to grab on the go when you’re rushing is a mochi fuwa pancake. These tasty pancakes have syrup and butter on the inside, so you don’t have to sit with a fork and knife to get that weekend morning breakfast taste while you’re rushing to work during the week.
Taking a cue from the North American custom of having convenience store hot dogs, the yakisoba bun is actually a serving of soba noodles packed into a hotdog bun.
This can be a quick, hearty snack to tide you over until your next meal. While it might seem like a strange, carb-heavy combination, it is actually quite flavorsome.
Western Fast Food
If you are looking to change things up and indulge in some foods popular in Western countries, you will be able to find many options.
While spring rolls aren’t Western, they have been Westernized quite a bit, and you’ll find some of those fried delights in a Japanese convenience store.
Some convenience stores will also serve corn dogs, fried chicken, pizza buns, and hot dogs.
Hot Food Counters
You’ll also be able to find a variety of different portable foods and snacks at hot food counters in convenience stores.
One dish you must try at a convenience store is yakitori. These are skewers with fried chicken, and they are very delicious. People will visit convenience stores just to get their hands on some fresh yakitori. It also makes a perfect portable snack to eat while on the go.
There are also other delicious snacks to try, ranging from croquettes to steamed buns, to fried meats, and so much more.
While we also know convenience stores for helping us meet our quick coffee fix, in Japan, they also have some coffee-flavored treats that are super sweet and yummy.
One of these treats is the coffee cream treat, which is a bun with coffee-flavored chocolate filling. It’s the perfect dessert to enjoy after dinner.
Hot And Cold Drinks
If you’re a little bit parched, you will find a selection of drinks, served either hot or cold, that you can grab and carry around with you as you explore Japan.
You can pick your temperature depending on what season you’re visiting Japan.
Amenities At Convenience Stores
While you might be concerned about how hot your convenience store dish might be by the time you purchase it, rest assured you are able to reheat it at the convenience store.
Many convenience stores will have microwaves and kettles so you can enjoy a freshly heated dish upon your departure.
You’ll also be able to find any of the necessary cutlery at the store and may even find a little seating area if you don’t want to have to find a place to sit and eat outside.
If you’re looking to bring some snacks back home with you, or at least to your hotel room, the options you’ll find at a konbini can be excitingly overwhelming. Japanese candy and chocolates, and even salty snacks, are ideal for the adventurous eater with very unusual flavors.
While you can indulge in what Japan considers junk foods and treats, you can also find more tame flavors sprinkled throughout a konbini.
Some notable snacks to seek out when you’re at a konbini would be different flavors of Kit Kat bars, as Japan loves these candy bars. Pocky is also a yummy, popular snack that usually combines salty and sweet expertly.
You might even stumble upon some mochi at a convenience store, which are soft little pillows of sweetness that can come in many different flavors and varieties, from fruity to rich and decadent.