While planning to study abroad, a big concern for many students is “how am I going to eat”? Our programs don’t provide meal plans, which can be overwhelming at first. Many of us cannot afford to eat out every day, so how do we do it?. In Japan, the convenience stores (called the “konbini” or コンビニ in Japanese) are a great place to get a reliable meal. They’re different from American convenience stores. Dare I say, quite literally, convenient. 7/11, Family Mart and Lawsons became a part of my daily routine. Like me, you may find yourself making a daily 7/11 run. There’s one right next to TUJ! Here are my go to and affordable コンビニ meals.
7-Eleven in Sangenjaya, Temple University Japan’s Neighborhood
Ranging from 100 to 250 yen (~1-2.5 USD), onigiri is a konbini staple. It’s hard to pick just one: tuna mayo, salted salmon, spam, pork sausage, pickled plum, plain rice, and many more. Grab one as a snack, or get more to make a whole meal! My controversial favorite is the pickled plum (梅干し or “umeboshi”), but tuna mayo never failed me. I probably had onigiri, if not multiple, everyday. It is cheap, nutritious and delicious!
In 7/11, you will see a wide variety of ready-to-eat soups. These may be udon, soba or somen style. My personal favorite was soba-style soup. By my last month in Japan (in which I was particularly broke), I found myself getting this every day.They will even heat up the food for you. If you don’t feel like eating it immediately, you can take it back to TUJ, where there are microwaves in the cafeteria.These soups vary from 500-1000 yen. My soba soup was around 600 yen, making this delicious meal only slightly above $5.
Family Mart’s “Famichiki”
The best part about konbini culture is that each chain has their own charm. They have signature items. For Family Mart, theirs is the famous “Famichiki”. Famichiki is essentially convenience store fried chicken. That may sound scary, but it is both delicious and beloved. There is a cult following around Famichiki. For around 200 yen, you can’t deny that it is worth the hype. Grab a few and call it a day!
Honorable Mention: Drinks, Snack and Treat
While these may just look like fruit cups, they’re actually frozen fruit ready to be made into a smoothie! There is a smoothie machine inside the store which makes you a smoothie within minutes. These cost around 500 yen and are only found at 7-Eleven.
Fruit Sandwiches and Bread
Fruit and whipped cream sandwiches may sound off-putting in America. In Japan, these 400 yen sandwiches are a delight. Fresh strawberries, fresh cream and soft milk bread. Tastes like you’re eating a strawberry cloud
Like fruit sandwiches, melon flavored bread may sound odd. However, you can find melon pan at any konbini or bakery. Soft and amazing.
This crepe may look different than what you might find at the crepe truck on main campus, or even the crepe cones popular in Harajuku. But trust me, these are a 7-Eleven hidden treat. A delicacy. I once ate 4 in one day.
Convenience stores will be your best friend. A konbini is pretty much on every corner in Japan. They become a second home where you can always be assured of a warm meal or a sweet treat. Embrace it. (Pictured: me in my local, beloved Family Mart. Located outside Kamikita Dorm.)