In Japan, convenience stores aka Combini are basically miniature supermarkets that are open 24/7. They can be found everywhere and sell practically every sort of day-to-day item.
Many convenience store chains can be found, the most popular ones being Family Mart, 7 Eleven, Ministop and Lawson. Smaller convenience store chains include Circle K Sunkus, Daily Yamazaki, Coco Store and Seico Mart.
It’s a fact that there’s one convenient store by each 2800 inhabitants. In major cities like Tokyo or Osaka they are found literally at every street corner. In that way you are able to buy anything you can need, less than 10 minutes away from home.
Maybe the only places that don’t have combini are the generally the remote small islands.
For those who need a late meal a combini can be a boon. Although they are a little more expensive than normal supermarkets, they are always open. You will definitely find something that you’ll like. They sell chocolate, ice creams, potato chips, candies and sweets. If you need a quick meal, you can find instant cup noodles, soup, bento boxes, sandwiches, prepared foods like hamburgers, pasta, precooked Japanese dishes like teriyaki chicken, onigiri (rice balls), salads, etc. They also have a wide variety of cold and hot drinks like coffee, energy drinks, sodas, Japanese teas, fruit juices and of course water.
You can also get alcoholic drinks and tobacco at convenience stores but you need to be atleast 20 years old to be able to buy them.
They also have a small dedicated area with magazines, newspapers and of course the most popular manga and manga magazines.
Combinis also have a basic area with hygiene products for men and women, basic medicines, and some of the most popular cosmetics.
If it suddenly begins to rain and you need to walk a long way to get home, you can purchase an umbrella in a combini for approximately 500 yen.
Another good tip for foreigners and travelers is that almost all combinis have ATM machines. While it is not always easy to find ATMs that accept foreign cards, ATMs in 7 Eleven stores will work with all types of cards.
Some convenience stores also have express packaging and delivery services making it easier to move your stuff from city to city.
Facilities for scanning & copying documents, faxing and printing documents via USB or memory cards are also available through coin operated machines.
They even sell cellphone batteries and battery chargers.
One can even get prepaid cards for cell phones and other services. Facilites to make international calls are also available.
They also provide free wifi Internet services. You can even buy tickets for concerts, intercity buses, sporting events, amusement parks and museums.
There are also free-to-use toilets available as well.