Konbini means ‘convenience store’, for those of you not living in Japan.
As usual, this came up in a lesson, on a day when I’d brought my computer in to work, to get some shit done. I’d opened it up and turned on the personal hotspot on my phone, and was refreshing my wifi connection to see G Ice come up in the list. Before I caught it, I saw a connection for Lawson Free WIFI, which I thought was just a tad odd, since Lawson is the name of the convenience store next to my office, and they apparently had WIFI.
I figured it was just the name of the store’s wireless router, and not that it was *actually* free WIFI for the customers.
But then, a few hours later, I saw a student who works for a big telecom company here, and he was talking about his job in sales and his most recent bid: he’s going to konbinis that use his competitors’ service for their normal internet connections, and trying to convince them to use HIS company’s service for the free in-store WIFI that they offer customers. So he confirmed for me that yes, in fact, convenience stores here in Tokyo offer free WIFI for their customers in the store.
Most of them have a cafe in the store, as well as hot food that is on sale (HELL YES, CORN DOGS). They are totally fine with the customers staying in the store to consume these things, since it’s a proven fact that the longer you stay in a store, the more likely you are to BUY MORE THINGS. And who DOESN’T need more tasty sweet or beefy snacks? So some convenience stores have an area where customers can sit and enjoy their drinks or food.
Can you imagine how much weight we’d all gain if WaWa had a seating area? I don’t even want to think about it.
So now, aside from pretty much ALL of the train stations, most large buildings with shops in them, a lot of izakayas and of course, Starbucks, you can now use the WIFI in any of the bazillion convenience stores you happen to pass in Japan. And let’s not kid ourselves: there are probably more Kobini in Japan than there are beverage machines on the streets.