Complete guide to Japanese convenience storesYou can do a surprising number of things at Japan's convenience stores!2013.01.

Convenience stores are everywhere in Japan. While they are often used for quick shopping or to buy things late at night, Japan's convenience stores actually have many other handy uses! Make your travel in Japan comfortable by checking out this complete guide to convenience stores.

It's easy to book and receive tickets at Japanese convenience stores!

Copy machines can be found at many of Japan's convenience stores. However, these are not mere photocopiers. As well as copying, scanning and fax functions, these extremely handy machines can also be used to print out photos from digital cameras and documents, and can even be used to purchase various kinds of tickets.
 
For example, the “Multi Copy Machines” found at Seven-Eleven (which has the most convenience stores in Japan) provide a service called “Seven Ticket”, which sells tickets for concerts, sports, movies and various types of events, and the machines can also be used to buy tickets provided by “Ticket Pia”, which is a major ticket sales service. Tickets for theme parks and highway buses are also easy to purchase. The control screen can even be displayed in other languages (English and Chinese), making it simple to arrange your travel plans at the convenience store.

Tickets can be paid for in-store right away, as the machines print out payment slips. Alternatively, you can visit any Seven-Eleven or other convenience store to pick up “Ticket Pia” tickets that you have bought in advance online. If you are unsure about how to use the machines, just ask the store staff for help and they will kindly show you what to do.

*Some convenience store chains have separate machines for ticket purchases and for copying, etc.
 

24-hour ATMs, Wi-Fi and more!

Japanese people use convenience stores instead of banks. There is 24-hour ATM inside many of Japan's convenience stores. For example, Seven-Eleven provides a service called “Seven Bank”, which lets you withdraw money if you have an international cash card with “International” written on it. This is particularly convenient when Post Office ATMs are closed, such as late at night.
*Remember that if you want to withdraw money in Japan, you should look for a Seven-Eleven, Post Office or Citibank ATM rather than the normal ATMs you will see around town.
 
There are also Japanese convenience stores that serve as Wi-Fi spots, many of which offer Wi-Fi access free of charge. A handy trick to remember when you are struggling to find a Wi-Fi on your travels is to go to a convenience store and connect there. Note, though, that you will need to register in advance before connecting for the first time, so don't panic if you are asked to register. As for other utilities, many of Japan's convenience stores have toilets that can be used by general customers, which at times can be very helpful. However, simply using Wi-Fi or the toilet and then leaving the store without purchasing anything is viewed as rude in Japan, so it is best to buy a little something (even a small item such as a packet of gum or a canned drink) as a courtesy to the store and its staff.
 

Can credit cards also be used at convenience stores?!

Many convenience stores in Japan's metropolises, such as the center of Tokyo, allow you to pay for items by credit card provided that your purchases cost more than a certain fixed amount. Many convenience stores also accept payment by IC train cards* such as “Suica” and “PASMO”, which is especially good news for travelers who do not want to walk around carrying large amounts of cash.
 
Japan's convenience stores have many other excellent features. Each convenience store chain has its own unique products, such as popular sweets, and there also health-oriented convenience stores that deal in low-calorie organic foods. Some convenience stores also have spaces where you can relax while enjoying a drink, and in sightseeing areas there are even stores that will guide you to famous places. Japan's convenience stores are handy and can used for all kinds of purposes. Find your own way of enjoying convenience stores!
 

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