NOT MANY PEOPLE HERE in the US would ever admit to hanging out at a 7-Eleven. There’s nothing Instagram-worthy about fluorescent lighting, pre-packaged snacks and hot dogs that have taken one too many turns on the ol’ roller. It’s there for you if you’re in a bind on a road trip, or if you need the brain freeze that only a Slurpee can provide—but that’s about it for your average American. In Japan, however, it’s a whole different ballgame. First of all:
Yes, Japan has 7-Eleven. In fact, out of about 55,000 stores worldwide, Japan is home to the majority of the franchise, with 17,569 locations across the country, according to Mental Floss. But that’s not all.
Their food selection is nuts. Japanese 7-Eleven’s stock a lot of the same food items as an American 7-Eleven (think coffee, sodas and convenience foods), and naturally traditional Japanese foods, such as Bento boxes, ramen noodles and Pocky sticks. They also allow folks to prepare their food in-store, or order a to-go or delivery meal ahead of time through their website 7meal, as reported by AWOL. Bon Appetite even covered the chain’s best lunch options. Some Japanese 7-Eleven’s also have dining rooms for patrons to enjoy their freshly-prepared food, and many have begun to stock additional healthier items.
At a 7-Eleven in Japan, you can also get shit done. Citizens can pay their phone or utility bills, make copies, buy tickets to sporting and entertainment events and make use of the free Wi-Fi. Many shops are also stocking on common household items to make trips even more “convenient,” said CityLab.
But the coolest thing is their care of the elderly. Japan’s 7-Eleven’s have made all of these incredible additions to the modern convenience store, mainly for the benefit of their elderly population. Dining rooms are also seating areas for 7-Eleven’s older patrons to rest a spell, or socialize while singing karaoke with friends. Their at-home delivery service helps homebound adults get a warm meal. Even better, reports CityLab, 7-Eleven is teaming up with Japan’s Urban Renaissance Agency to place stores inside of apartment complexes with large aging populations in order to serve them as conveniently as possible. After that, they’ll tackle the areas outside of major cities like Tokyo and Osaka to assist those people over 65 who live in more rural areas. Who knew 7-Eleven’s could be such a lifeline?
Now, the next time you grab a bottle of water from your local 7–1–1 and you hear someone diss the green and orange, you’ll be well-equipped with the knowledge that some things, like Cheap Trick, are just bigger in Japan.