Welcome to the first edition of a new weekly column here at GetHiroshima: Crispy’s C(K)onbini Capers!
For those of you who don’t know who I am, let me introduce myself. My name is Jade Brischke but my nickname is Jack Crispy (LONG story!), hence the title of the column. I’m an English teacher, but also an avid explorer of all things weird-and-wonderful in Japan, including everyone’s favorite, the konbini.
So introductions aside, let’s get started!
This column is designed to introduce and review one product (either new or long-standing), each week from one or more konbini. For this, the first column, I’ve decided to do a basic overview of konbini and a little history lesson because, yes, I am a teacher.
The word, ‘konbini,’ is the shortened form of the English, ‘convenience store,’ which refers to a shop that sells food, drinks (including alcohol) and everyday items such as toiletries, magazines and newspapers. They’re also the place to go if you want to do some photocopying, top-up your credit on IC cards for trains and buses, use an ATM and even buy tickets for concerts and events like baseball games. In Japan, unlike my native Australia, they can also be found on nearly every street corner and many times, in between as well and, the majority of them are open 24/7. This of course, makes them very… convenient.
According to various sources I found online, the top five chains are: 7-Eleven, Lawson’s, Family Mart, Circle K Sunkus and Mini-Stop. Of course, in Hiroshima you can also find ones like Daily Yamazaki and Popura and again, each person has his own personal preference or favorite. I am partial to a little 7-Eleven, but our relationship is by no means exclusive, i.e. I flit from one to another depending on what I want and need.
The first konbini opened way back in 1969 and since then has become an icon that typifies Japan. 7-Eleven alone has over 18,000 stores. If you’re a facts and figures geek, check out this link for some statistics that will blow your mind.
My love for konbini began way back in 2005 when I stepped into my very first Family Mart and heard the delightful tune that was to became my ringtone at one point. The sights, sounds and smells became firmly entrenched in my heart and mind and I was hooked.
Since then I’ve come to view them almost as a second home. You can get free Wi-Fi, use a public restroom that is actually clean (unlike konbini in many Western countries!), eat comfort food like fried chicken and get to know the staff who will greet you like you’re family.
As a self-confessed nerd, I’ve assembled a few links below that you can browse to your heart’s content for more information on this wonderful Japanese icon: the konbini.
See you next week!