Tokyobling's Blog

Portraits of Convenience Stores – Kamakura

Posted in Places, Shops by tokyobling on December 10, 2013

Since emigrating to Japan I have learned to love the humble Japanese convenience store. These little beacons of light and civilization are everywhere in Japan, from the loneliest Okinawan island to the busiest Tokyo high rise. You can book tickets, pay bills, do your banking, pick up and send packages, buy cell phones, get your beer, order food, buy ready made lunch boxes or lottery tickets or just browse the huge numbers of magazines. Sometimes you can even borrow their restrooms. Some convenience stores have a seating area with free hot water pots. They are open 24 hours a day, usually never close and the staff is amazingly service minded. During the trouble up north in March and Aril 2011 the convenience stores were a lifeline: they had the most advanced distribution network in the country, a perfectly streamlined inventory system and were able to get fresh food into the damaged areas before anyone else. Over a thousand convenience stores had to close due to the earthquake and Seven-Eleven alone saw 41 factories unable to operate. But they had 128 others spread out around the country that could pick up and keep supplies and food streaming into the damaged areas. For me the convenience stores of Japan are heroes, and I have quite a collection of these kind of “portraits” of lonely convenience stores at dusk or sunset.

I took the photos of a Lawson and Three-F store just next to Yuighama beach in Kamakura City, south of Tokyo.

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5 Responses

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  1. Shelli@howsitgoingeh? said, on December 14, 2013 at 6:34 pm

    I miss Lawsons!!! Everyone complains about dining in Japan being so expensive, but you can always supplement with cheap meals at the convenience stores! They really have something for everyone!

    Like

    • tokyobling said, on December 16, 2013 at 8:40 am

      Exactly, there is tons of good stuff and very cheap, if you know who to and where to look! (^-^)

      Like

  2. C said, on December 17, 2013 at 7:08 am

    I was wandering around a neighborhood in Honolulu today and on a street corner, there it was: a real, live…Lawson. (This, after going to a mall, food court, and grocery store and finding the same discounted bento boxes, imported food, and even signs and menus in Japanese)

    So I walk in and these tattooed Polynesian dudes all greet me in Japanese just like at the stores. I was like, is this for real? About half the food and magazines and kitschy items were straight from Japan, and the rest all funky Hawaiian fusion foods. After a day of this, I was wondering if anyone needs to bother going to Japan when it’s all right here — too amusing!

    Like

    • tokyobling said, on December 17, 2013 at 11:52 pm

      Cool! Tattooed Polynesian dudes in Lawson uniforms? I have to go see that someday… to bad I don’t have time to travel!

      Like

      • C said, on December 18, 2013 at 8:45 am

        Lawson uniforms? Oh no, Aloha shirts all the way! I’m starting to notice that there are different patterns for various professions, from bus drivers to janitors to government workers. Wonder if there’s a hierarchy or reason for the patterns (given how casual Hawaii is…probably not, other than matching print shirts to a company’s color scheme or something).

        Hopefully you’ll have time to travel sooner rather than later, and can do an AlohaBling special feature 🙂 This place oozes randomness and a strong connection to native culture (i.e. had a funny conversation at immigration about how horrible it was that Kamehameha Hwy is now just called Hwy 50: “it’s horrible how we’re losing our culture!”). And with twice as many flights from Japan than the US mainland, it’s like Tokyo in miniature 😀

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