“What a place. #Tokyo2020” While this now-famous tweet by a foreign correspondent visiting Japan to report on Tokyo 2020 was used in reference to the Olympic Games, it was written about a surprising ‘champion’: the Japanese convenience stores. With restricted areas to go during their coverage of the Games due to COVID-19, foreign journalists staying in Tokyo were quick to fall in love with the Japanese convenience stores for being always open, fully restocked, delicious, and full of items to keep even regular users entertained.
According to the Japan Franchise Association, as of January 2022, Japan was home to 55,956 convenience stores, over 7,000 of which can be found in Tokyo only. While there are several theories on the rise of the concept, it is believed that Japan’s first convenience stores opened in the early 1970s, aiming to provide “convenience and comfort” to customers. Functioning as “miniature supermarkets” and operating longer than other stores, convenience stores today are stocked with most things people may urgently need: from warm food and fresh produce to daily necessities and even underwear and makeup.
While convenience stores can be found all across Japan in various sizes and brands, those located near Ryogoku Station are unique as they offer sumo-inspired merchandise perfect as souvenirs. A large characteristic of convenience stores are that they provide literally “convenient” services that suit the needs of the area; at convenience stores near Ryogoku Station sumo fans can get a hold of tools needed for hand-made cheering crafts, from hard paper (for placards) to stickers.