Known affectionately as konbini, Japanese convenience stores are unique cultural hubs: a place where you can get a snack, quick meal, buy tickets, get money from an ATM, or use a reliably clean bathroom. Keep an eye out for FamilyMart, Lawsons, and 7-Eleven (yes, the same place you get Slurpees in the US—but in Japan, it's so much more). Often there’ll be more than one on any given street. 

Here are 8 key phrases to help you unlock everything they have to offer!

Translation: Welcome!
No need to reply. If you’re in eyeshot, just give a polite nod in return. You’re in the right place. Snacks await.

Otsugi no kata dōzo
Translation: Next in line, please.
Be sure to check: Are you actually in line, or are you creating your own line? Look for arrows on the ground, usually leading from the center aisle to the cashier.  

Pointo kādo wa omochi desuka
Translation: Do you have a points card?
Japan loves rewards cards! If you’re just visiting the country and don’t want to get involved, you can say ありません (arimasen) for "No, I don't." Even a simple 大丈夫です (Daijōbu desu), "It’s okay," will get your point across.

Translation: Do you want it heated up?
This is asked in reference to bento boxes, and certain items like sandwiches or soup. Not feeling it? Once again, 大丈夫です (Daijōbu desu) is your best friend. Otherwise, reply with お願いします (Onegaishimasu) and step aside so they can help other customers while the microwave works its magic. You’ll have a hot meal in about 20 seconds.

 (the snack name) を下さい
___ o kudasai?
Translation: May I have _(the snack name)_?
A handy phrase for the fried food and bun offerings by the register. (Fans swear by Famichiki, FamilyMart’s legendary fried chicken.) If you know the name of the snack, add it to the question, and otherwise point to what you want.

Fukuro otsuke shimasu ka?
Translation: Would you like a bag?
Forgot your own? No problem. Just keep in mind that you will be charged 3-5 yen per bag depending on its size.

O shiharai hōhō ha ikaganasaimasu ka?
Translation: How would you like to pay?
At 7-Eleven this question will be presented (in both Japanese and English) on the touchscreen in front of you. However, other chains still tend to ask. Here’s how you can answer:

  • 現金 (genkin), for cash
  • カード (kādo), for credit card
  • Suica, the public transit card which—yes!—you can use as a de facto debit card!

___ wa arimasu ka?
Translation: Do you have ___?
Maybe you’ve hunted around the store and can’t quite find the snack you’re craving. Why not ask? Just fill in the blank with the item you’re looking for. (Or, if vocabulary escapes you, show a photo on your phone.)

The most delicious way to practice Japanese

Make the most of your trip to Japan by practicing Japanese at konbini! There's no better way to make the most of your language skills than by securing your favorite snack in the process.