Such Handy Services! A Complete Guide to Japanese Convenience Stores
Many of the convenience stores you'll see around Japanese cities are open all day and offer a variety of services helpful to residents and tourists. Here is an in-depth guide on how to effectively utilize convenience stores.
The first you'll want to know is that they offer free Wi-Fi. Many convenience stores have free Wi-Fi that can be used by inputting basic information such as e-mail address and gender. The 7-Eleven Wi-Fi service, Seven Spot, can be used three times a day up to 60 minutes each time. It is available in more than 15,000 locations, including the 14,300 7-Eleven outlets, the Denny's restaurant chain, and the shopping chain LOFT.
Cash can be withdrawn at convenient stores with ATMs. At the Seven Bank ATMs in 7-Eleven, you can withdraw Japanese yen using one of the accepted cards (such as VISA, MasterCard, JCB, China Union Pay, Diners' Club, and AMEX). At Lawson, JCB and China Union Pay cards can be used on all ATMs, and overseas cards such as VISA and MasterCard on the new ATMs.
If you need copies of documents or photographs, just go to a convenience store! They have "multi copy" machines that enable B&W and color copying up to A3 size (10 JPY for B&W and 50 JPY - 80 JPY for color.) The machines can also be used to scan documents (about 30 JPY each) and save JPEG and PDF files on USB and other devices.
Express bus tickets can be purchased, and reserved tickets issued, on computer terminals in convenience stores. The terminals at 7-Eleven stores are called "Multi-copy-ki," while FamilyMart has "Famiport," and Lawson and Ministop has "Loppi."
It is also possible to purchase tickets for leisure facilities and for sports and other events using these terminals. You can purchase tickets in advance at convenience stores so you don't waste your time standing in line at your destination.
In addition to copying and scanning, the multi-copy machines can be used to print out a variety of documents such as maps around Japan. They offer a variety of content ranging from photographs of celebrities, artists, and cartoon characters to music scores and odds on government-controlled races.
Photographs taken on digital cameras and smartphones can also be printed out on the multi-copy machines (about 30 JPY and up). They can be printed on photographic paper so the quality is good! At Lawson and CircleK/Sunkus, you can easily make calendars using the images of your choice, so why not make one as a memento of your trip?
The multi-copy machines at convenience stores also function as fax machines! They can only be used for domestic transmission at 7-Eleven (50 JPY), but there are some convenience stores, such as CircleK/Sunkus, FamilyMart, and Lawson, where faxes can be sent internationally (100 JPY - 150 JPY). If the machines accommodate Kuroneko@FAX services, you can also receive transmitted documents to them from inside Japan (50 JPY).
You can also drop off items for courier services (domestic only) such as Yamato Transport's TA-Q-BIN and Japan Post's Yu-Pack at convenience stores. Yu-Pack items are accepted at Lawson, Ministop, Seicomart, and LawsonStore 100 and many convenience stores including 7-Eleven, FamilyMart, and CircleK/Sunkus accept TA-Q-BIN. If you ask the clerk, you can get an invoice.
You can also pick up items purchased on online sites such as Amazon and Rakuten at convenience stores. Just designate the convenience store you want to pick up at when you place the order. Convenience stores where you can pick up deliveries depends on the online site.
Many convenience stores have machines from which you can get freshly brewed drip or espresso coffee for about 100 JPY a cup! Some stores even have specialty drinks such as café au lait, mocha coffee, cocoa, and tea. You pay at the register to get a cup and serve yourself at the machine.
Some of the larger convenience stores have eat-in corners where you can eat and drink on site. They are great places to have a drink and some sweets and take a break from sightseeing and shopping. Consuming alcohol may be prohibited, so be sure to check. It's frowned upon to stay for too long, but if it is a store with free Wi-Fi, it's nice to be able to sit down and use it.
Although the actual services depends on the store, all convenience stores offer a variety of handy services. Utilize them wisely and enjoy your stay in Japan.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.