Station Kiosks - the Hubs of Modern Japan

The Kiosks at Japan railway and metro stations are little stalls like US “News Stands” with two sides open, and two sides closed with storage. They have a refrigerator and a drink heater, as well as all manner of convenient articles - you can get drinks (alcoholic and soft), snacks (candy, bread, squid (yes!)), newspapers, magazines, novels, umbrellas, lighters, batteries, phone cards, neckties, handkerchiefs and the like.

They take cash and process it very quickly, but they also now accept “Suica” or “Passmo” cards, which are IC cards you “recharge” with cash at the ticket machines. When you make a purchase, you can touch your Suica on the sensor, and the price will be debited from your card balance. This is very smart, because people who live and work here usually go through the wicket with their Suica cards anyway, so one has it out and ready to pay for that little drink or newspaper purchase.

A couple of points about Japan Kiosks -

They don’t usually speak much English, but there are English papers for a small ransom (Japan Times is 180 Yen).

They don’t like one yen coins very much - I’ve been scolded a couple times when trying to unload my cache of 1-yenners.

Sometimes they don’t offer bags just for speed, but you can ask for a “biniiru bukuro” (vinyl bag) and they’ll give you one.

Japan does not really have a “haggling” culture - so asking for a discount will produce derisive stares rather than the desired result! The price is the price so pay and get out of the way.

The one thing that would be convenient, but is not yet sold at Kiosks, is pharmaceuticals - you can’t yet pick up a bottle of Tylenol or some cold medicine at the Kiosk. Maybe some day, though, since they are trialling that at Convenience Stores like 7-11 and AM/PM these days. I hope this tip might help the traveller to Japan.

Grab and GoUsually Two Open SidesAsking Kiosk Sempai's AdviceKiosk Woman Works Very Fast

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—by Rick Cogley