Lawson, Family Mart, Sunkus — these are three of the major Japanese convenience stores that can be found on almost every block (much like the Duane Reades and Rite Aides of NYC), but unlike their international counterparts, this trio of stores manages to be more than a place to buy a roll of toilet paper or pack of gum.
Each store houses a myriad of “junk” food and ready made actually real food that’s all so yummy and so cheap that we stopped by one nearly every day. It became part of our routine to visit the nearby store on the way back from a day of galavanting.
Call it an obsession or pure glutton, but we couldn’t resist sampling all the options. With 10+ different types of green tea, pocky, chocolate covered cookies, onigiri and other perfectly packaged, bite-sized morsels, we had to sample as many as we could (c’mon, we were in Japan for three weeks!). It did get to a point where we found our favorites, but that only meant that we had to stock our stomachs up before it was time to leave.
Our love for conveniences stores became less embarrassing when we learned that David Chang (of Momofuku fame) ate all his meals at a Lawson in his budding years as a ramen sous chef in Tokyo. He even took Anthony Bourdain there to share in his nostaglia! Smart man.