Photo by Shoji Kudaka
Photo by Shoji Kudaka

Oh thank heaven, 7-Eleven makes debut on Okinawa

by Shoji Kudaka
Stripes Okinawa

The wait is finally over: 7-Eleven is coming to Okinawa!

The convenience store giant will debut 14 locations on the island July 11, fittingly, with up to 250 stores set to open on a rolling basis in the next five years.

This will be the first time the chain will open locations in Okinawa. The first convenience store opened on the island in 1986, and it’s taken 33 years for 7-Eleven to make the move.

Southern Okinawa cities like Naha, Tomigusuku, and Itoman will be among the first to see the new locations and get their hands on long-desired 7-Eleven favorites. Chatan Town near Camp Foster will also be getting its very own 7-Eleven.

 “We have heard many voices requesting ‘7-Elevens to come to Okinawa.’ Having launched stores in 46 prefectures, we’re finally coming to Okinawa to meet the requests,” said Haruka Sekiguchi, a spokesperson of Seven & i Holdings, the parent company for 7-Eleven and Seven-Eleven Japan, via email.

Though it may have started as an American chain, 7-Eleven has grown to a global enterprise with 68,236 stores in 17 countries and regions around the world, as of March 2019. The Japanese version of the convenience store, in particular, is the subject of many travel blogs and videos and is known for having exceptional food and drinks.

First-time customers are often surprised with conbinis (as convenience stores are called in Japan), as they have the wide selection of snack foods, hot bento meals and onigiri, and various services, such as concert and event ticket sales, photocopiers, ATMs and package shipping.

Like many of the other convenience stores in the country, 7-Eleven also caters its offerings by region. The stores on the island are planning to stock Okinawa-limited foods supplied by their own, newly-built deli factory in Urasoe city and dessert factory in Uruma city.

“We hear that some customers in overseas countries gain information through social media or websites,” Sekiguchi said. “They come to our 7-Eleven stores with high hopes of eating foods and trying service that we offer in Japan.”

One thing you won’t usually find at Japanese conbini: gasoline. While most do not have gas stations, 7-Eleven’s Chatan location will also have an accompanying gas station when it opens.

Though there are many other chains on Okinawa, 7-Eleven fans and Japanese conbini store customers, in general, know that they each offer different items and various hot foods. So be on the lookout for the new 7-Elevens popping up around the island, try something new and find your next favorite conbini snack.

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