A while back I wrote about Ogopogo. A few days later, I encountered something Ogopogo-like while out and about. Around the same time—on April 14th—I wrote about my assorted Iron Chef encounters. And the following week Lia told me that she’d seen a poster of the original Iron Chef Japanese, Rokusaburo Michiba, in the window of our neighbourhood 7-11 store.
At the time, I didn’t have a chance to take a photo and by the time I did, the poster was gone. Luckily, the poster reappeared and I was able to hurriedly take some pictures of it on the morning of May 3rd as we began a journey to Hikosan in southeast Fukuoka.
Here’s a view of the doors into our neighbourhood 7-11 convenience store. The poster with Michiba is to the left of the door.
The poster, with Michiba showing off some of 7-11’s culinary delights.
And a close-up of the Iron Chef himself, looking a bit like a squint-eyed pirate because of the window glare. If I hadn’t be in a hurry to get to the bus stop, I’d have attempted some shots with a polarizing filter.
I should note here that 7-11—and Japanese convenience stores in general—are a wonder. This morning we sent Amy & April’s luggage to the airport via 7-11. All we had to do was fill out some paperwork, buy a couple of special bags that are designed to fit over the suitcases, and pay the courier fee. This saves our intrepid visitors from having to lug them on the trains to Kyoto, Nara, and then through Tokyo to Narita airport as they complete their 2005 Asian Tour over the next few days. They just need to check in at the courier kiosk in their departure lounge to pick up their baggage.
Not only do convenience stores here—called conbini—handle luggage and courier services, they have an excellent bill payment system. We use it for dealing with our monthly phone bills. And a couple of months ago Lia paid for her computer through 7-11. Yes, it was an option at the Apple Store Japan. The payment was as simple as taking a bit more than two hundred thousand yen out of the ATM, walking over to the checkout and handing the wad of bills with the Apple Store conbini invoice to the cashier, who hardly batted an eye. As an aside, when we got here just under two years ago, there were no daily withdrawal limits on accounts at our banks. This year, around February, they instituted a 2 million yen—just shy of 24,000 Canadian dollars—daily limit.
So, luggage and bill payments. What other praises can I sing for Japanese conbinis? They have event ticket ordering systems, though we haven’t attempted to navigate the all-Japanese interface without copious assistance from native speakers. There’s a good selection of reasonably healthy food—including sushi—though I’m still not convinced about oden, a kind of stew. Of course, the iffiness of oden has nothing to do with the sales venue and everything to do with its innate oden-ness. There are also snacks, drinks—alcoholic and non-, toiletries, magazines, cigarettes, and more. And they’re open 24 hours. They truly put the convenience back into “convenience store.”