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Foreign Convenience

Hello readers!

Thanks for coming back and checking out blog #9! Today I continued my studies of survival Japanese with SurvivalPhrases.com Japanese lessons 26, 27, and 28, and JapanesePod101.com survival phrase lessons 20, 21, and 22.

The lessons covered mainly directions and how to get different places. One Survival Phrase lesson however, expanded upon convenience stores, which is quite an adventure in itself. I thought I would blog a little bit about them today, since I have yet to try my hand at asking someone how to get somewhere (at this point, I think that it’s more fun to get lost in Tokyo, since there’s so many hidden treasures in this city).

Sunkus Convenience Store

Though it’s a plain photo, this is a picture of a common convenience store here in Tokyo. I was lucky to get a woman dressed in Kimono walking out! [Photo by Emily Carsch]

Kon-bini, or convenience stores are all over the place. Recognizable to Americans are the 7-11s, but there is also a chain called Sunkus, and other places with signs written in Kanji that I cannot understand. The stores here, are much like any convenience store in any country. There are some basic grooming items and packaged snacks, refrigerators for a cool beverage, and current magazines and newspapers. It is the food and beverage offered that makes these stores interesting to a foreigner.

Right now, I’m drinking a carbonated pineapple drink made by Sapporo that I picked up earlier. Because I saw the name Sapporo on it, I realized that I was taking a risk. Was it a soda or an alcoholic beverage? Fortunately, it’s just a soft drink. What I’ve learned however is that Japanese beer companies like Sapporo and Kirin Ichiban have other products than just beer. This is not the case in America. I can’t imagine drinking a juice made by Heineken.

There is also a whole refrigerated section dedicated to tons of small, different shaped and different colored bottles and liquids. They’re all no bigger than the size of a fist. These are apparently the energy drinks. I haven’t tried any yet, as I’m not much of an energy drink consumer, but I hear some people swear by them.

As far as food goes, there are a few aisles of snacks. These include candy bars, chips and pastries; none of which are recognizable to me. All of the products are ones that I have not seen in America. So much for globalization of snack foods, eh?

The coolest thing I’ve seen in this section however, are packaged sandwiches. Sitting with the other non-refrigerated pastries, they come in packages of two. They are small, perfectly cut squares of white bread. There is no crust and the two pieces of bread are infused together on the edges, so the contents are unknown.

The packaging is covered in kanji, so I don’t know what it says or what it is called unfortunately, but the flavors can be understood by a drawn picture of a boy and girl on the corner of each bag, holding or doing something to help suggest what kind of sandwich is inside.

One bag, the boy and girl look like they are dancing around holding peanuts. The sandwich of course, is peanut butter. There’s also tuna, egg, ham, different flavors of jam, honey, and sweeter desert flavors like cookie crunch and vanilla yogurt. Be sure to check these out if you visit Tokyo.

In the refrigerated food section, rice, sushi, soba, fruit, and salad are all available. If you pick up rice for example, the store clerk will heat it for you at the cash register and put chop sticks in your bag for you. It’s a quick and easy option if you don’t have time to sit down at a restaurant.

Is there anything else you know of that I should try? Let me know!