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Dark humor is said to be a sign of high intelligence, but in the case of this convenience store owner, signs of an early retirement are on the table. That’s probably what Twitter user @innuted thought when he shared this picture of a konbini’s book display.

The power of hindsight

 

こんなブラックジョークいたファミマ はじめてだわ = Dark humor seen on display for the first time at Famima

Famima, the nickname for the Family Mart chain of convenience stores in Japan, is one of the major players in an industry which sees new stores opening every year across the country. With 55,483 conveniences stores nationwide in 2018, it seems like there is no end to Japanese customers’ love for 24/7 conveniency.

Owning a convenience store in Japan

Like for most convenience store chains, Family Mart’s business is run on a franchise system under which the franchisee, or owner, receives some guidance and operational support from the chain’s headquarters.

Still when it comes to the day-to-day work, owners have to constantly improve their profitability in order to pay the rather heavy fees and royalties back to the parent company.

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So what does running one of these stores really feel like? We guess the answer is probably contained in this recently published book:

コンビニオーナーになってはいけない = You must not become a convenience store owner

The book was prominently displayed on the magazine shelf according to the instructions of someone very special.

オーナー店長 てんちょうのおすすめ = Owner’s recommendation

While we’re lolling at the hilarious irony of the situation, let’s take a quick minute to imagine that being a convenience store owner might not be all that fun. Running a 24/7 business brings challenges and with Japan’s current labor shortage, hiring staff is probably the toughest one.

The good news is that this situation plays in your favor, as convenience store chains are hiring more foreign staff; the latest report from June 2018 counted more than 40,000 foreign cashiers. And for these guys at least, working at a convenience store is not without its perks. To retain this new workforce, the chains have developed strategies including discounts, flexible scheduling for Japanese language school students and salary progression.

Expressing “you must not do” in Japanese

This colorful book title offers a good opportunity to review one of the Japanese expressions for “you must not do (action)” which is:

~てはいけない

  • Plain form: Verb + (action you must not do) て form + は + いけない
  • Polite form: Verb + (action you must not do) て form + は + いけません

Keep in mind that to express the opposite, ‘‘you must do (an action)” you need to have to actually use the negative て form of the verb.

  • Plain: Verb (action you must do) negative て form + は + いけない
  • Polite: Verb (action you must do) negative て form + は + いけません

If working at a convenience store is a good option, it seems like it’s better to stick to being a part-time employee rather than working your way up to owner.

In fact, working at a convenience store in Japan offers a great chance to improve your Japanese, gain insight into Japan’s working culture, and opens the door to building a career in Japan. Who knows, you might end up being successful enough to write a book.

Vocabulary

Japanese Romaji English
こんな konna such
ブラックジョーク burakku jooku dark joke/humor
いた (from 効く) kiita (from kiku) to be effective
ファミマ famima shortened version of “Family Mart”
はじめて hajimete first time
コンビニオーナー konbini oonaa convenience store owner
になって (from になる) ni natte (from ni naru) to become
オーナー店長 てんちょう oonaa tenchou store owner
no particle indicating possession
おすすめ osusume recommendation

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