While Japan is the third largest luxury market in the world with countless luxury things to do in its cities like Tokyo, there is a place where all Japanese go to regardless of social status – the Japanese convenience stores.

As someone living and working in Japan, I’ve come to appreciate the most popular food in Japanese convenience stores, or “konbini.” They’re everywhere and open all the time, perfect for my busy schedule. The food is great and affordable, with lots of choices, and with my always-packed schedule, cooking isn’t always easy. Plus, the consistent quality and freshness of their food, even late at night, is something I really appreciate

The Biggest Convenience Stores in Japan

We have some big names in the Japanese convenience stores’ game, each with its own cool quirks and features. Below are the convenience stores giants and I have also outlined what makes each one stand out.

1. 7-Eleven

In Japan, when we think of a convenience store, 7-Eleven is likely the first name that comes to our mind. It’s the undisputed king of convenience, found on almost every corner in Japan. Not just a place for a quick snack, 7-Eleven is a place for our daily necessities, from breakfast on-the-go to late-night cravings. It’s also a pioneer in offering diverse services like bill payments and concert ticket sales, making it an important part of our everyday life in Japan.

7-11, a popular convenience store in Japan

7-11, a popular convenience store in Japan

Interesting Facts about 7-Eleven in Japan:

  • 24/7 Pioneer: 7-Eleven led the way in round-the-clock service, a game-changer in our non-stop Japan’s workaholic society.
  • Seven Premium Delights: Their own brand, “Seven Premium,” is a hit for offering everything from tasty snacks to complete meals, all with a touch of quality that surprises and delights.
  • Smoothies: 7-Eleven is the only Japanese convenience store that offers fresh smoothies. My personal favorite is the green smoothie which is a combination of kale and other vegetables.
  • Fresh smoothies at 7-11 in Japan

    Fresh smoothies at 7-11

2. FamilyMart

FamilyMart emerges as one of our favorite Japanese convenience stores among us locals. It’s our quick stop for unique offerings that you might not find in other Japanese convenience stores like 7-Eleven or Lawson. 

In Japan, Family Mart is known for its exclusive snacks and innovative food selections, just like its extremely famous FAMICHIKI. FamilyMart provides a distinct experience with its special treats and seasonal items that cater to our ever-changing Japanese tastes.

FamilyMart, a favorite convenience store in Japan

FamilyMart, a favorite convenience store in Japan

Interesting Facts about FamilyMart:

  • Famichiki Craze: Their Famichiki is legendary – a simple fried chicken snack that’s become a cultural icon in its own right.
  • Relax and Recharge: With café-style seating, it’s more than a store; it’s a spot to pause, relax, and enjoy the city vibe.
Don't miss the Famichiki at FamilyMart

Don’t miss the Famichiki at FamilyMart

3. Lawson

Lawson is popular in Japan for its health-focused options, like the ‘Natural Lawson’ line with organic and healthier choices. It’s also known for its fresh bakery section, a hit among us locals. In fact, Lawson has MACHI café, their very own in-store freshly brewed coffee service.

Find health-focused options at Lawson

Find health-focused options at Lawson

Interesting Facts:

  • Budget-Friendly Lawson 100: Their “Lawson 100” section is a hit for those looking for great deals at just 100 yen.
  • Focus on Wellness: With “Natural Lawson,” they cater to the health-conscious, offering organic and healthier choices.
  • Uchi Café Indulgences: Their Uchi Café series showcases their dedication to offering premium, delicious desserts.

Ranking of the Most Popular Foods in Japanese Convenience Stores

1. Onigiri

Onigiri, or rice balls, are a big deal in Japanese convenience stores. They’re simple but so good. You’ll find them filled with all sorts of tasty stuff like salmon, pickled plum (umeboshi), or tuna mixed with mayonnaise. They’re wrapped in seaweed and are the perfect grab-and-go snack. Whether you’re in a rush or just need a quick bite, onigiri is a go-to choice for many people here.

Onigiri Tuna Mayo - one of the best-selling convenience food items in Japan

Onigiri Tuna Mayo – one of the best-selling convenience food items in Japan

In fact, Receipt Reward Japan, an analytics company specializing in the data of convenience stores in Japan, published a data (in Japanese) that Tuna Mayo Onigiri is the best-selling food in Japanese convenience stores.  

2. Sandwiches

The sandwiches you find in our convenience store are something special. They range from simple egg salad to more elaborate ones like katsu sandwiches, which have a breaded pork cutlet inside. What’s great is how they blend Western styles with Japanese flavors. They’re always made neatly and are super convenient for a quick lunch or snack while on the move.

Personally, I also grab sandwiches from convenience stores if I do not have time for breakfast in the morning or when I become hungry in the late afternoon at work. As someone who goes to the gym, I personally choose either chicken teriyaki sandwich or the tune and egg sandwich.

Sandwiches offer a quick option on the go

Sandwiches offer a quick option on the go

3. Bottled Drinks

Walk into any convenience store, and you’ll see a huge selection of soft drinks. There’s something for everyone – from the classic green tea and sodas to energy drinks and even some unique seasonal flavors that you won’t find anywhere else. It’s perfect for quenching your thirst, especially in the hot Japanese summers.

Find a large variety of bottled drinks at any convenience store

Find a large variety of bottled drinks at any convenience store

Regardless of the season, I always grab bottled tea from convenience stores – when going to the gym or when going to work. In summer, my favorite drink is 7-Eleven’s zero-calorie Zero Cider Triple drink that is very delicious and nutritious (it has lactobacillus that is good for gut health). In winter, of course, the hot bottled tea would be my best choice and recommendation.

4. Bento Boxes

Bento boxes from convenience store are a full meal packed into a neat, portable box. They come in a variety of styles, from traditional Japanese dishes with rice, fish, or meat and pickles, to Western-style options like pasta or hamburger steak. They’re super convenient for a quick lunch, especially if you’re busy and don’t have time to sit down at a restaurant.

5. Desserts

The dessert section in the convenience store is like a mini paradise for anyone with a sweet tooth. You’ll find a wide range of treats, from traditional Japanese sweets like mochi and dorayaki (red bean pancakes) to Western favorites like cakes and pastries. They’re great for a quick dessert or a sweet snack to brighten your day.

If it will be your first time visiting Kyoto, you need to check out the convenience stores’ desserts that are only available in Kyoto.

For foodies: the only two things that you need to do in Kyoto are to visit matcha cafes in Kyoto and to grab matcha-flavored desserts at a Japanese convenience store. I have personally tried these matchas and my favorite ice cream is the matcha-flavored ice cream. 

Don't miss the Matcha-flavored ice cream when you're in Japan!

Don’t miss the Matcha-flavored ice cream when you’re in Japan!

The Best Foods in Japanese Convenience Stores – Final Thoughts

To wrap it up, if you’re visiting Japan, make sure to check out the convenience stores, or “konbini.” These places are a goldmine for quick, tasty, and affordable food options. Grab an onigiri for a snack on the go, try different kinds of sandwiches for a quick lunch, or pick up some unique bottled drinks to quench your thirst as you explore. The bento boxes are great for a no-fuss meal with a variety of choices, and don’t forget to treat yourself to some desserts, where you’ll find both Japanese and Western options. 

As someone living here, I can tell you that the most popular food in Japanese convenience stores is a big part of our culture and a must-try for any visitor wanting to experience everyday life in Japan. It’s convenient, it’s diverse, and it’s definitely a slice of Japanese life you shouldn’t miss.

When choosing your next vacation destination, you might crave a scenic mountain escape, a beach vacation, or an adventurous road trip. However, cultural legacy also plays a decisive role in choosing a travel destination. If you’re interested in history, world heritage, geographical wonders, and traditional customs, choosing one of the world’s cultural destinations can be an unforgettable vacation experience.

Culturally-rich destinations not only offer tangible delights like traditional food, museums, archaeology, and architecture, they also have an intangible element that makes the place special, like customs, rituals, and historical significance.

On top of that, connecting with different cultures helps open your eyes in ways that a typical holiday might not achieve. So without further ado, here are seven such cultural destinations for world heritage travelers and explorers.

1.   Cambodia

Cambodia - on the best cultural destinations in the world

Bayon Temple in Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Cambodia has an impressive history of civilizations and lucrative trade routes that really come alive when you visit the country. The iconic Angkor Wat temple, the world’s largest Buddhist temple complex of the early 12th century, reveres Lord Vishnu.

You will be able to take in the magnificence of Hindu god statues in the many temples in this architectural monument. Cambodia also has a rich tradition of handicrafts like golden silk, cotton textiles, and clay pottery. While visiting Cambodia, be sure to hop on the famous two-wheeled carriage Tuk-tuk, which ferries around people of all cultures and nationalities in Cambodia.             

Cultural Highlights:  

  •     Royal Ballet in Phnom Penh (Khmer classical dance featuring apsara dances in brightly colored costumes)
  •     Krama (traditional Cambodian checkered scarf)  
  •     Battambang (known for French colonial buildings and architecture, artist-run galleries)
  •     Arts and crafts (stone carving, silversmithing, lacquerware, kite-making) 
  •     Pin Peat (percussion instruments)
  •     The Reamker (Cambodian version of the Indian epic Ramayana)
  •     Nang Sbek (Shadow Theatre)

2. Japan

Japan, a country rich in heritage and tradition

Japan is known for its historic shrines, temples, and cultural celebrations. Travelers will also have plenty of opportunities to learn about other Japanese traditions like Manga art and hand-drawn computer animation.

There is a high regard for tradition in Japan, so pay attention to the customary bowing while greeting, removing your shoes upon entering a home, or eating with chopsticks.

Cultural Highlights:  

  •     Manga art (comic books in woodblock print)
  •     Anime (hand-drawn and computer-animated works)
  •     Geisha (traditional Japanese music sung by women at high-class banquets)
  •     Shodo (flower calligraphy)
  •     Ikebana (flower arrangement)
  •     Kimono (traditional Japanese clothing) 
  •     Bunraku and Kabuki (puppet theatre featuring stylized masks, costumes)
  •     Sushi, Teriyaki (Japanese dishes)

3. Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu - one of the best cultural wonders of the world

As one of the new Seven Wonders of the World, Machu Picchu is a stunning cultural destination

The magnificent site of Machu Picchu is the world’s most famous ancient city and a top tourist attraction. Scenic backpacking routes, like the Inca Trail, lead up to this classic mountain ridge tucked in Peru’s Andes Mountains. Machu Picchu, declared a UNESCO heritage site in 1983, is one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2007 (per an internet poll).

This architectural city delights you with its stone blocks, temples, monuments, walls, steep mountains, water channels, and varied flora and fauna.

Cultural Highlights:

  •     The Temple of the Sun (for the Sun God worship)
  •     Intihuatana (astronomic solar clock and monolithic structure)
  •     The Sacred Rock
  •     Huayna Picchu
  •     The Temple of Condor (well-known Inca temple)
  •     The Ocarina, the Antara, and The Charango (ancient Andean musical instruments)

4. Egypt

The Great Pyramids of Giza - the last remaining Wonder of the Ancient World

The Great Pyramids of Giza – the last remaining wonder of the ancient world

The ancient Egyptian culture has left its mark on the world with magnificent monuments, scientific advancements, and fascinating treasures that are still being unearthed today. But a visit to Egypt will also teach you about mythology, religion, civilization, and architecture.

Egypt’s beauty is unparalleled, as even the folk paintings on rural house walls depict Egypt’s strong artistic focus. The Great Pyramids of Giza built for three Egyptian pharaohs are the oldest Wonder of the Ancient world, and in fact it’s the only one that remains intact today.

For a unique viewing experience, you can take a camel or horse ride to enjoy the view of this last remaining wonder of the ancient world.

Cultural Highlights:

  • Great Pyramids (481 feet tall made with 2.3 million limestone blocks)
  •     The Great Sphinx at Giza (world-famous sculpture with a lion’s body and a human head)
  •     Pharaohs (Egyptian art)
  •     Tomb of Tutankhamen
  •     Bread loaf and falafel for daily and ceremonial occasions
  •     Perfume and minerals for makeup

5. Rajasthan, India

Hawa Mahal palace in Jaipur, Rajasthan

Hawa Mahal palace in Jaipur, Rajasthan

Camel fairs, royal palaces and rulers, festivals, handicrafts, and The Thar Desert make this state Northern state of India one of the top cultural destinations in the world. While there, be sure to enjoy the traditional folk music and dance that convey the heroic tales of battles fought on Rajasthani soil.

Cultural Highlights:

  •     Pushkar Camel Fair (held every November)
  •     Langas and Manganiars (folk musicians)
  •     Ghoomar dance from Jodhpur
  •     Dharohar dance performance (earthen pots stacked on the head)
  •     Kathputli (puppet show)
  •     Choki Dhani (resort village experience of Rajasthan folk dance, cultural skits, and eating platter meal while seated on the floor)

6. Russia

Saint Basil's Cathedral in Moscow, Russia

Saint Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow, Russia

Russia is so much more than freezing tundra and imposing castles. It has colorful cathedrals, gilded fountains, ballet, painting, literature, and cuisine to awaken your cultural spirit.

Culture Highlights:

  •     St. Basil’s Cathedral (Moscow’s famous work of architecture)
  •     Peterhof Palace and Gardens (check the spectacular fountains)
  •     Bolshoi ballet (renowned classical ballet)
  •     Food and drinks (sample beef stroganoff, borscht soup, caviar, vodka)

7. Cuba

A typical street in Havana, Cuba - one of the best cultural destinations in the world

A typical street in Havana, Cuba

Cuba excites visitors for its unspoiled beaches and its lively music and dance. It is also the birthplace of several music genres. Interestingly,  Cuba has nine UNESCO-approved World Heritage sites for the heritage explorer in you.

Cultural Highlights:

  •     Baroque architecture
  •     Moorish-inspired arched walkways
  •     Art deco style, as seen in the Bacardi building in Havana
  •     Salsa and Cha-cha-cha (local music)

Final Thoughts

Before planning your trip to these cultural destinations of the world, be sure to check guidance around the pandemic. To protect yourself and the local population, be sure to wear and carry reusable masks and sanitizer for a safe journey.