Hirafu’s convenience stores (konbini) are the bomb. Not only do they sell dirt-cheap alcohol, you’ll also find a jackpot of snacks and meal options that you can happily live off if you’re on a budget.
There are two konbini in Hirafu, and locals are known to argue over which is best. Lawson is a few steps out of central Hirafu, while Seicomart is smack bang in the middle of town. Aside from location, it’s a tight race. We’ve broken down the competition into a few key categories for your convenience.
The choice of Hirafu late-night food is limited, which can be distressing when you’re fanging for a post party burger. There are a few food trucks that close at random times and Seicomart sometimes dabbles with late hours, but Lawson is is open 24-7.
Trudging through the snow towards Lawson to get a DIY fried chicken burger is a Hirafu rite of passage. If the crowds have already cleared out the bain marie there’s heat-and-eat options like cheesy pasta and beefy noodles to curb your cravings.
The winner: Lawson wins for drunk food, simply by being open.
Daytime is a different matter. A few years ago, Seicomart Hirafu upgraded to include a Hot Chef section that serves katsu curry, fried chicken and a bunch of other weird and wonderful hot dishes.
The winner: There are those that stay loyal to Lawson fried chicken, but we reckon the hot food options at Seicomart are better.
Heat and eat
Need a quick lunch and only got ¥800? It happens to us all. The konbini is your new bestie, with its range of rice and meat dishes, pasta options and weird combos of things like spaghetti, tempura salmon and hamburger patties. The staff will heat them up for you on the spot – that’s what they’re asking when you hear “at-ta-ta-me-masuka?”
The winner: This comes down to personal choice, as Lawson and Seicomart carry different ranges. Try them both and tell us what you think!
Let’s take a moment to thank the universe for Japanese snacks. They are more awesome then you could ever imagine and cheap as chips. Literally.
Think spiral, prawn flavoured chips, pizza buns bursting with béchamel and ham, choco/caramel ice cream sandwiches (watch out for bean paste) and of course, onigiri. These triangular shaped rice snacks are a staple of the Japanese diet. Tuna mayo is a big Hirafu favourite, but watch out for the salty plum ones, which aren’t that chill.
The winner: We think Seicomart has a wider bakery range – both savoury and sweet – but aside from that it’s neck and neck. Our challenge to you is to try something different every day. And buy a familiar back up in case you get something gross.
There’s nothing more convenient than buying booze at the convenience store.
Spirits are cheap – we’re talking about ¥1100 (AUD $13) for a full bottle of Smirnoff. Beer is a little pricier, but wine is cheap and cheerful, although we recommend steering clear of Japanese wine, which is really sweet and weird.
Sake is awesome and reasonably priced, but the real winner here are chu-his. Pre-mixed cans of Japanese vodka and fruity soda, chu-his are another rite of passage for a Hirafu snow trip. There are hundreds of variations in flavours, alcohol and sugar content, but the price is always friendly – about ¥180 – ¥230 per can.
The winner: We’re giving Lawson the prize for alcohol, because their range of chu-hi is wider #priorities.
Snacks and ready meals are awesome, but sometimes you need supplies. Bread, milk, veggies and toiletries are available at both Hirafu konbini.
The winner: Seicomart takes the cake for stocking Vegemite, brown bread and more fresh fruit and veggies. You won’t find the first two in every Seico, they’re a Hirafu special order for the Aussies.
Hirafu’s best konbini
It’s a tie, party people! After spending a few days in Hirafu you may have a personal favourite, but to get started you should eat as much as you can at both stores. It will be one of the highlights of your trip.
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