No one ever comes back from the Land of the Rising Sun saying, “I went to Japan for the culture, I stayed for the 7-Elevens,” but the Japanese convenience store experience definitely leaves an indelible mark on the Far East experience. Removed from the stigma of the semi-trashy, strip-malled American version of the chain, Japan’s 7-Elevens embrace the tenets that make its country’s culture so attractive -- efficiency, innovation, cleanliness, and, of course, innate weirdness.
On a recent trip to the island nation, a quick food stop turned into days of snack-infused anthropologic study that yielded one resounding conclusion: Japanese 7-Elevens are pretty damn awesome. With stimulation at every turn, the experience can be overwhelming, but here’s a little quick-and-dirty guide to the Japanese snack world. Kan pai!