Japan Data

Seven-Eleven’s Japanese Half-Century: A Store on Every Corner

Society Lifestyle Economy Food and Drink

Seven-Eleven opened its first store in Japan 50 years ago in 1974. It now has more than 20,000 outlets across the country.

On May 15, 1974, the first Seven-Eleven store opened in Toyosu, Tokyo. Back in those days, it operated from seven in the morning to eleven at night, as its name implies. At the time, it was groundbreaking for a store to stay open so late.

Half a century later, convenience stores can be found almost everywhere, in office districts, residential areas, and along main roads—wherever there are pedestrians or vehicles. They sell all kinds of food, including onigiri (rice balls), sandwiches, and other deli items, always at reasonable prices, along with freshly ground coffee that is competitive with any specialty shop. But convenience stores have also become an indispensable part of daily life, as places where it is possible to pay utility bills and taxes, collect tickets, send parcels, charge smartphones, and withdraw money from 24-hour ATMs.

As of fiscal 2023 (up to February 2024), there were 21,533 Seven-Eleven stores across Japan. Total sales revenue was ¥5.3 trillion.

Convenience Store Numbers and Sales

Seven-Eleven in Japan

1974: First store opens

The first Seven-Eleven convenience store opens in Toyosu, Tokyo, positioned as a retailer with a new format of operating from early morning to late at night.

1975: Start of 24-hour operations

The Toramaru store in Kōriyama, Fukushima Prefecture starts, a trial experiment of operating 24 hours a day.

1978: Launch of onigiri packed in film

The chain launches onigiri packed in special film that separates the rice from the nori (seaweed) wrapping. It keeps the nori crunchy, and is designed to be removed when eating. The rice balls, traditionally made at home, can now be easily bought and eaten.

1982: Introduction of POS system

A point-of-sales system is introduced that links sales data to highly precise ordering to meet customer demand.

1987: Launch of first utility bill collection service

Collection of TEPCO bill payments begins. This later expands to collection of gas, telephone, and water bill payments.

1996: Color copy machines installed at stores

2001: Preservatives and artificial coloring eliminated from original products

2001: Launch of IY Bank (now Seven Bank)

IY Bank (now Seven Bank) founded through joint investment with Ito-Yokado. Start of installation of IY Bank ATMs in Tokyo.

2010: Launch of personal document service

A service starts for issuing copies of resident records (jūminhyō) and personal seal certificates (inkan tōroku shōmeisho) through multifunction copiers.

2013: Launch of Seven Café

Seven Café launches, and the first machines for fresh-brewed coffee are installed in stores.

2019: Stores open in Okinawa

As the first Seven-Eleven stores open in Okinawa, the chain can now be found in all 47 prefectures.

(Translated from Japanese. Banner photo © Kyōdō.)

convenience store Seven-Eleven