Konbini - culture of convenience

Konbini – culture of convenience

Konbini even has their own language!

Japanese convenience stores are called konbini. They are everywhere in Japan, it is estimated that in Tokyo alone there are more than 8,000. As with most convenience stores, no two of them are exactly the same, they are planned according to geography, location, and other factors to cater best for their clients needs. Konbini near colleges might have more space for beer, whereas a store near a beach might stock more beach balls (especially in the summer season.)

Konbini has many interesting features. At some you can buy tickets for travel as well as to local events, at others, they have office supplies, photocopiers, faxes and even printing services for those who need to do a little business in the shop. They also cater for salary men, selling ties for those who need a tie in an emergency (like if the tie accidentally fell into the Salary man’s ramen)

One of the biggest konbini chains is the 7-Eleven (7-Eleven is a Japanese Company) and 7-Eleven boasts with more than 13,790 stores in Japan alone, almost twice as many as there are in the United States. Chances are you have shopped at a 7-Eleven before, but they are much different from the ones in Japan. At stores such as 7-Eleven, it is not a big surprise to find the invented language, Keigo.

Keigo is a polite and formal form of the Japanese language. It is used to show respect towards your customers, seniors and boss. It consists of long and complex sentences. There are humble words which you can describe yourself, your family and company, and there is honorific word that is used to describe others. Keigo is indirect and takes a long time to get to the point.

Add to Keigo the fact that store employees are super-polite and you get an interesting picture. This type of Keigo is not taught in schools, konbini Keigo is invented by convenience stores. We that study Japanese outside of Japan will most likely not understand this unique language the first time we hear it. People that are foreigners aspiring to work at kombini must be able to speak Japanese and master konbini Keigo.

There is much to be discovered about konbini. They are places that must be very interesting to discover by visitors to Japan. Recently those who watch the anime Bubuki Buranki may have noticed in episode 1 that his new friends led Kazuki Azuma to a konbini on the roof of a skyscraper. Chances are you have seen konbini in other anime as well.

Interested in more? Here is a guide to konbini, please follow our link and have a read: http://bit.ly/a-guide-to-konbini

If you want to find out more about Bubuki Buranki, here is the anime trailer. Please follow our link: http://bit.ly/Bubuki-Buranki-trailer

For any suggestions, opinions or requests please mail us at bentobox@animefanatika.co.za