Keio University, Japan
In America, if someone told you they eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner from the gas station it was be more than mildly concerning. Overpriced, over processed foods like that are generally not part of a balanced diet. Now, if someone told me they eat all of their meals from a conbini (convenience store) in Japan, I would be less concerned. Convenience stores in Japan are probably the most diverse store a foreigner can utilized for multiple reasons.
Let’s start with food! When I first arrived in Japan, I was scared to eat out or go grocery shopping because I didn’t know what awaited me. The first conbini visit really helped this shy, scared, foreigner get in their three meals a day! Conbinis have packaged meals, beverages, snacks, pre-made hot foods, ice cream – basically everything a college student already eats right? But in comparison to an American convenience store, it’s much more ‘conbini-ent’, as the “snacks” weren’t all twinkies and cinnamon buns (as good as they are). The snacks included onigiri (rice balls), salads, hard boiled eggs, fruit, ect., all for reasonable prices. And, like Japan often does, it’s always fun to find your favourite snack with your favourite television show’s characters printed on the front!
Conbinis also have other perks that were totally new concepts to me! At your local 7-11 or FamilyMart (the two most popular chains of conbini’s) you can withdraw money with your American debit card, pay your insurance, pick up Amazon packages, print things, and if you’re a stationary dork like me, hook yourself up with an array of nice markers.
So if you’re a nervous person like me and eating out is a big step for you, conbini’s will make that much easier on you as you adjust to Japanese life.