September 23, the autumn equinox, is considered by many to be the real start of autumn here. I’m not allowed to change the, ‘season,’ section on my wall calendar at work until this day has passed.
I guess konbini [コンビニ] will then have the official, ‘green light,’ from autumn but yes, already there has been a rush of products both for it and for Halloween. Perhaps, ‘rush,’ isn’t the best word; more like an explosion!
Anyway, here are a few of my favourite things I’ve found this week… including… drum roll please… the ever popular, most spectacular… Häagen Dazs, ‘Pumpkin,’ ice cream. Thank you, Universe, you have delivered! And check out that pumpkin ripple… oh man…
Two more bready, baked treats of goodness also appeared in Family Mart in the past week and these are a chestnut cream, chestnut-flavoured sweet bun and a Tokushima Prefecture sweet potato tart. According to my Japanese friends, most of the Japanese names of these things don’t actually make much sense, so I’ve given loosely-translated versions here that I hope are easier to understand.
My big news for this week is that I decided to celebrate the cooler weather by going on a weekend break, although why I would choose a megalopolis like Tokyo for some, ‘rest,’ is beyond me. Maybe because it’s within
Japan and the airfares were super cheap? And speaking of airfares, this week’s column focuses on the
wonderful service of being able to pay for your ticket at konbini.
I’m specifically dedicating it (meaning my column), to a friend and fellow teacher/co-worker of mine who is a little hesitant about using such a service for a number of reasons. She’s not a huge fan of flying, which despite being AMAZING, even konbini can’t help her with, but mostly because of her lack of Japanese. Never fear, Miss B. I will show you all you need to know.
Since I used Family Mart, I’m going to focus on that, although for my specific ticket from Spring Japan I could have also used Lawson here in Hiroshima. I want to talk about how to use the FamiPort which it the machine that looks like an ATM (but isn’t, obviously!) in Family Mart stores.
So, basically you do everything you need to do and book online, but when you get to the credit card part, you choose the option of paying at konbini. Let me just say, if you don’t read a lot of Japanese, Spring Japan’s website is a little difficult to navigate, so for the first time, I recommend asking a Japanese friend to help. After that though, it’s easy and you can fill everything in yourself. You will receive an email saying that you need to go to konbini to finalise and confirm your flight.
Thus, off you go to konbini where you will find the FamiPort machine with a screen that looks like this:
Now, as you can see, some of the button titles are in English so touch the button that says, ‘Payment/Charge.’ You will then be asked to enter your confirmation number (included in the email) and then your phone number.
Do that and you will then be issued with a receipt which you take directly to the Family Mart counter staff who will print out your little ticket in return for your payment.
You will then get a confirmation email from Spring Japan saying here are your flight details. Then it’s all up to you to get to the airport and boogie on down.
And much, much cheaper than going on the Shinkansen like my friend always does.
Try it and see. If your Japanese is limited, I guarantee, the staff at your local konbini will bend over backwards to help you. I have a lot of faith in my local konbini and in Japanese people overall. You won’t be disappointed.
I’m off now to start packing for my trip. It’s been a long, long, long time since I’ve been there and I’m really looking forward to having a really good look around and checking out the sights. And the konbini, of course.