Konbini (Japanese convenience stores) have this kind of legendary mystique amongst Japanophiles and are an element of Japanese pop culture as they permeate the media there (including anime of course). Most people seem to shop at them and even some Hikikomori (shut-ins) wander out in the depths of the night visit them for sustenance. I like the onigiri and the nifty snacks you can get at these convenience store, but am amazed that you couldn't buy an aspirin or Tylenol type medication at them. Konbini also do many anime tie-in promotions as you can see from the Evangelion and other events that are covered below.
Anyhow, the Japanese have even made some comedy type songs that have the konbini as the focus and they are actually pretty good.
Konbini are little masterpieces in marketing and inventory / supply chain management. Products are placed at the right place and height to catch your eye, and they track what sells well, so only popular items are stocked. Of course, convenience foods and snacks are well stocked (who doesn't like their candy aisles!), but the selection is far better than what you get in many other countries. I love konbini rice balls, the limited edition instant ramen, and their wonderful selection of drinks. Since I'm on the topic of konbini, here is a video of the interior of a Lawson. If you haven't seen one before it is worth a watch.
Evangelion and other Anime Tie-Ins with Lawson
Lawson has seen a good thing and keeps working the anime tie-in angle over the years. Their biggest promo was the Evangelion Tie-In with a fully branded store in Hakone (where Tokyo 3 is supposed to be located). The store was completely done up and was supposed to be like something out of the reboot movies. It was so popular it had to be shut down early as there were parking problems and civic disorder.
I can only say that there was a lot of good looking merchandise present! See the movies below to get a feel for that event back in 2010.
Lawson has also done other tie-ins with Madoka Magica and K-on too!
Other Tokyo Excess Japanese Pop Culture Links
- Cup Noodles - Nissin Pop Culture
- Kaiju (Monster-sized) Burgers
- Pocky Pop Culture
- Coffee Please, Not Tea - Tokyo Coffee Shops, Hario & Canned Coffee
- Gyudon From Yoshinoya and Sukiya and JAL Air Beef Bowl
- JAL Inflight Food (they even did Air MOS Burgers)
- The Konbini Song and Lawson Evangelion Tie-ins
- Giant Robot Toys - Macross, Godzilla, Gundam
- Alien Art - Haniwa & Dogu Figures (Jomon & Yayoi Periods)
- Japan's Amazing Love of All Things Cat
- Kowloon Walled City and Gunkanjima Island. Even showed up in the James Bond movie Skyfall.
- Emoticons and Densha Otoko
- Hello Kitty and Pokemon Airliners
- Japanese Super Science