Find out why ‘Nature, culture, traditions and convenience stores’ actually go together really well!
All the same, and all terrible
Travelling by camper car is your best chance to leave the crowds and discover the real Japan. But ‘the normal Japan’ is already hard to explore without speaking Japanese, and ‘the real Japan’ is even worse! That is when you realise that these terrible all-the-same convenience stores are life-savers; they are easy to spot, quick to navigate your way through and you always know what your gonna get!
1. Convenience stores are time savers
Time flies when you’re having fun. And a holiday is over before you know it. So why not be smart about it? Because especially in Japan there are many reasons your time will go even faster than usual. Trying to find things for example, when you cannot read the language. For starters, finding the right shop for daily necessities. Convenience stores are everywhere, located along major roads and well signposted. Even on your GPS and maps. That saves time!
Once, when roles were simple, I watched the kids play at the parking lot while Mirjam did the shopping. But why did a simple shopping trip always have to take her 1,5 hours to complete?!
Inside a convenience store is where the real time saving starts. You will have mastered the general layout after a visit or 2. There are not too many products to get lost in. And the offering tends to be slightly more international too. That makes it easy to locate your items, and fast. As opposed to a visit to a supermarket in a mall; long walks from the parking, sooo many lanes and products and hardly a thing in English. It takes 5 minutes just to decide which soy sauce is the plain one, without wasabi added!
2. They are everywhere
Okay, the products on offer are not always the most original. But think about it this way; by camper you will go off the beaten track. You can go deep into the countryside for days, with endless forests and sleepy villages. Out there, half the local stores are closed and seem to have last opened in 1986. And the other half have last updated their inventory in that same year. They stock more varieties of rice than you could ever imagine, but hardly anything else. Then, suddenly up ahead, appears a Convenience Store… Need I say more?
3. Convenience stores are multi purpose
These little shops can fulfil many of our needs at once. That might actually be under ‘time saving’ too but it deserves a little more attention. In 1 short stop you can buy your necessities, enjoy a hot and often freshly grounded coffee, use a clean bathroom, get cash from a language-friendly ATM (especially at 7/11-stores) and often use free WIFI! And all of it with free parking that is generally easy to access with your small-but-still-big camping car!
About free WIFI; a free WIFI App I have been using a lot is Japan connected-free WIFI. Note that before you can use it you have to register, which requires an internet connection. For example from your hotel, before the camper trip. Or maybe even from outside Japan already but I cannot test that, so if you do, thank you for letting me know in a comment!
And, convenience stores actually are Japanese culture
Now you know it: convenience stores really make a travellers life easier. Leaving you more time and energy to enjoy the Japan you came for: nature, traditional culture and all these little things that make Japan so different from anywhere else. But after your trip you may agree that actually, convenience stores like 7/11, Lawson and Family Mart are so much part of the daily life of Japanese people, that they have become part of the local culture. Making your shopping stops even more justified!
Create your unique trip! Go Camper Japan!
Other useful information:
For free WIFI at certain spots on the road: Japan connected-free WIFI
How to use SevenBank ATMs at 7/11 shops in Japan
Find out how easy it is to travel Japan by rental campervan: How to.. on the road
Buy drinking water, or fill up at the tap of convenience stores? Safe Drinking water in Japan