When I think of Tokyo, I think of convenience stores (or “conveni”, the conveniently shortened name for them in Japanese). They’re everywhere, and good for just about anything: food, withdrawing cash, printing and scanning, an alarming variety of ice cream, iced coffee, trash bins (surprisingly necessary, because although virtually no one litters, there are very few trash cans in the street). No matter where you go, there are Lawson’s, 7-11s, and Family Marts on just about every block. Many of them are open 24 hours. I’m getting used to being able to buy anything I’ve forgotten for cheap, from Band-Aids to bento boxes. It’s a little dangerous. A friend of mine has already accumulated six umbrellas.
Actually, in general, things are very convenient in Tokyo. The subway system, though intricate, is clear and easy to navigate; there are umbrella stands outside every store; dotted lines on the floor show you where to stand in line. The convenience stores embody, to me, this spirit of basic consideration for other people that is built into the very architecture. I’m already dreading the return to America, where I’ll have to readjust to sparse convenience stores that aren’t good for much more than candy bars and beef jerky.