So, today I paid one of our bills at the convenience store. Crazy, I know, but somehow, the cashiers at the convenience store have the authority to take my money and transfer it to the proper bill company. I think the bill companies figured out the power of the convenience store in Japan, and made an alliance with them.
Because in Japan, life is all about convenience, and the convenient store is the epitome of all convenience. There are more 7/11’s in Japan than the U.S.- no joke! There are three convenience stores on my 15 walk to the train station alone. But they seem to pop up everywhere, like daisies! There are even convenience stores on the platforms of most train or subway stations, just in case you need something in that 2-5 minute period of waiting. But, unlike stores in the U.S., it’s not very common to find a gas station attached to a convenience store. Actually, there’s a gas station around the corner that I actually think is part of a mechanic’s garage. Also unlike convenience stores in the U.S, you can actually trust and eat the food in convenience stores here. My personal favorite is a meat bun. I never remember what the name in Japanese is, nor do I know what kind of meat’s in it, and though it sounds a bit disgusting, it’s delicious!They sell all kinds of food, including full meals that they offer to heat up for you when you pay. I’ve seen it done, it’s pretty awesome, despite being a bit illogical. Most likely, you’re buying the meal to eat at home, where you could just heat it yourself. But convenience is what it’s all about here.
Here are a few other examples of convenience at work:
~There are about a hundred drink machines all over the place here. Sometimes they’re about ten feet apart, no joke. You will never go thirsty here.
~Taxi doors open automatically. The driver pushes a button so that you can get in and out of the taxi without ever having to exert yourself or even touch the door.
~You can buy about 80 different kinds of passes to use public transportation, depending upon your need. They want to make it as convenient as possible for you to travel.
But in all of this convenience, ATMs are few and far between. Oftentimes, you actually have to go to your bank if you want to get out money. And after a certain hour, they charge a fee to withdraw money. For a cash-based society bent on convenience, this is the one area where they failed miserably!