In Japan, convenience store is what it is.. convenient.
I grew up in a very small town South of the Philippines archipelago, where the term “convenience store” does not exist. We have what we call “sari-sari” store , meaning variety. It is usually a small store at the side or in front of somebody’s house. In a sense, its 24-hours because you can just knock of the house and if somebody is still awake, they might sell you what you need.
Family mart, 7-11, Sunkus are foreign to me. Till I came to Japan. Ignorant as I am, I thought this stores are orignally from Japan, how wrong I was.
While having a conversation with 2 American and 1 British, we ended up comparing the convenience store in Japan and in America. Accdg to them, it is called convenience store because anytime of the day you can get booze, condom, cigarette, junk foods and gas.
If you have never been to a convenience store in Japan, here are the things that you can buy or do :
Buy : Food ( both unhealthy and healthy ), drinks ( beer, water, milk, soda, tea ), dairy products , pastries, bread, office and school supplies, personal items like shirt, underwear , socks, razor , stockings and etc, magazine ( wholesome and not so wholesome ), newspaper, and whole lot more.
Do: Pay utilities ( water, electricity, gas ), pay city taxes, pay health insurance, buy tickets ( concert, airline , bus ), pay online shopping , fax, atm, photocopy materials, print, send post, send packages and maybe more.
As far as I know, you cannot buy medicine yet in a convenience store or gas though I did saw a 7-11 somewhere in Kyoto ( near Amanohashidate ) which have a gas stand. It was probably the only one in Japan, unfortunately I was not able to take a picture of it.
America might have invented convenience store but Japan have perfected it 🙂
** PS, lately most have toilets already and it is very clean 🙂