Convenience stores in Japan are often praised for their awesomeness in various situations. They're a spot where you can grab delicious ready-to-go meals, stock up on fun seasonal candy, grab a can of beer or chu-hi, purchase concert or event tickets, and find a sparkling clean restroom amongst other wonders. You'll find them helpful no matter the reason or the season, but they have some particularly great excuses to pop in during the colder months - not that you really need an excuse, right?
They've got cold weather supplies if you've forgotten them
We've all been in the predicament where we've forgotten to pack something - or perhaps just didn't research what the temperature at our travel destination was. Convenience stores in Japan have your back in that regard, often stocking a range of cold weather gear from hats to insulated gloves and scarves.
Cup Noodles and soups galore
When I think about the foods I crave in cold weather, soups and ramen noodles would have to be close to the top of the list. You'll find aisles full to the brim of different cup noodles and soups to enjoy, with some unique flavor varieties that you may not have experienced before!
...and best of all, convenience stores come complete with hot water boilers, so that you can enjoy your food in-store if you'd like to!
They're not called convenience stores for nothing! You'll find hot water boilers readily available at convenience stores - so if you were eating on-the-go there would be no problems opening up your cup noodle once you've paid, adding the hot water in, and enjoying it on the spot.
There is more hot chocolate, coffee and tea than you can poke a stick at
Another way I like to warm up when it's cold is to enjoy a hot drink. Convenience stores have plenty of inexpensive hot drinks, from coffees and various teas to hot chocolate, amazake and more.
...they've even got soup in a can, hot and ready to enjoy!
Yup, you can buy ready-to-go soup at convenience stores that you can drink straight from the can or bottle. The ones available at my local 7-11 store today were pumpkin on the left, and corn on the right - perfect winter warmers!
There are steamed buns in all different varieties
It wouldn't be Japan without enjoying some seasonal foods, and one of the best as the temperatures start to drop are all of the steamed buns you can get at convenience stores here. Some convenience stores even keep them on the rotation throughout the year, but most I've come across put them on hiatus until it gets cold out. Some of the varieties you'll come across are nikuman (a pork filled bun), pizaman (literally filled with cheese and tomato sauce - think of it like Japan's version of a Hot Pocket), kare-man (a steamed bun with curry filling inside!) and even some sweet varieties like anman (a red bean filled bun) and chokoman (a chocolate steamed bun). They're inexpensive and they work brilliantly as a quick and easy snack to fuel you up for more adventuring.
Oden is found in basically every Japanese convenience store in the colder months. Basically, oden is a bunch of different tasty treats that are cooked in a dashi broth. From boiled eggs to sliced daikon, konnyaku, different tofu varieties and more, it's just a matter of grabbing one of those bowls below, picking out the items you want, and enjoying! You'll see by the bowls in the picture below that they also have small packets of sauce - it's karashi (Japanese mustard) and it packs a punch, but pairs really well with the items in oden!
They're a great place to escape the cold for a while!
Sometimes, even if you've equipped yourself with a hot coffee, some soup, or even those nifty hand warmers, the best solution to staying warm is to just stay inside for a while. A lot of convenience stores also have seating inside, where you can just sit and relax, enjoy what you've eaten, and get out of the cold for a bit. As an added bonus, a lot of Japan's convenience stores have free WiFi, so it's a good chance to get online and check emails, post on your social media, or even double check maps for where to head to next!
Japan truly is a great country to visit no matter the season - there's always something fun and exciting to check out irrespective of the time of year. Keeping warm if you're here in the cooler months is an important consideration though, and hopefully convenience stores will assist you in staying snug so you can enjoy your trip to the fullest!
Enjoy Japan - stay warm, and happy travels!