Can you tell if a Japanese neighborhood is dangerous by looking at its convenience store?

By Casey Baseel, SoraNews24

By most measures, Japan is a country with very little crime. That said, some neighborhoods are still safer than others, and that’s a major criteria for many people when looking for an apartment.

Unfortunately, it’s not always east to tell how safe a community is until you’ve already been living in it for a while, at which point simply pulling up and moving to somewhere else might not be feasible. However, recently Japanese Twitter users have been discussing what some say is a way to quickly get a feel for the safety level of a neighborhood: taking a quick look around its convenience stores.

The ball got rolling when Japanese Twitter user @teiji_oriental offered some tips on what to look for, asserting that a neighborhood is dangerous if its convince stores are well-stocked with One Cup Ozeki (a very low-price brand of sake), plus tabloids and other magazines aimed at middle-aged men. Other red flags: a poor selection of fashion magazines and not allowing customers to use the store’s bathroom. On the other hand, a good selection of organic foods and high-priced mineral waters correlate to a safer neighborhood.

Other commenters added tip-offs of their own. Trash cans available outside the store were seen as signs of a safe neighborhood, with the receptacles being inside indicating the opposite. For toilets, many mentioned a sliding scale where free use by customers was indicative of the safest neighborhoods, having to ask the staff first meant moderate safety, and no customer toilet whatsoever was the worst. Signs posted inside the store bearing messages like “Shoplifting is a crime” or “Thank you for using the toilet without leaving a mess” were also associated with unsafe neighborhoods (the latter perhaps because not leaving the toilet a mess should go without saying). Finally, the section for liquor and drinking snacks being right where customers enter the store was also pointed to as worrisome.

The overall theme was that neighborhoods with comparatively more men, less income, or a stronger thirst for booze are more dangerous. However, not everyone agreed with this logic, with multiple commenters claiming to be current or former convenience store workers disputing the accuracy of these litmus tests. “I’ve worked in four different convenience stores, and none of this is true,” said one. “The product selection has nothing to do with how safe the neighborhood is.”

Where the trash cans are located is often a factor of how much pedestrian traffic the area has, mentioned another. The bins are supposed to be for customers of the store only, and a large number of people passing by increases the chance that non-customers might drop their trash into them, filling them up and inconveniencing people actually shopping at the store. Policies on customer toilet use aren’t necessarily for crime prevention, either. If a convenience store is located in a neighborhood with many pubs or restaurants, many passersby may be feeling the call of nature on their after-dinner walk home, and the store simply might not want a line of people standing around waiting to use the john, or have enough staff to keep up with the increased cleaning schedule that would go along with that much use. One current convenience store owner pointed out, not all convenience stores are built with a layout that allows direct access to the bathroom, and only have a small employee restroom at the back of the office.

One could still make the counter-argument, though, that with alcohol being a common factor in street crime, and with more male perpetrators than female ones, that a convenience store stocking products that appeal to men who like to drink means that there are more such men in the area, and thus the greater potential for crime…all else equal. That’s just one possible factor, though, so perhaps the best thing to do before signing a lease is to spend some time exploring various parts of the neighborhood, not just the convenience stores, at various times of day to help you judge whether you feel comfortable enough to start calling it your home.

Reference: Twitter/@teiji_oriental via Hachima Kiko

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- 10 factors that make Japan a safe country

-- Six ways to avoid looking like an “idiot” when shopping at Japanese convenience stores

-- Kyoto taxi drivers reduce convenience store robberies by 50 percent by doing absolutely nothing

© SoraNews24

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.

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Using these signs as a way of determining how safe a neighborhood might be, is almost as unintelligible as using blood types to determin what type of a character a person would have. What you can be sure is you can bet pretty much any neighborhood you go to you will be safe. You an also be sure that if any crime or nuisance is encountered the gaijin san will be the first suspect.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Even the worst areas in Japan is super safe compared to the areas in the US. Every time I go to Japan, I'm amused to see how people's houses have iron clad doors with multiple locks and extensive home security measures when Japan is so safe. Also, majority of the time if you lose your wallet, it will be turned in with everything still in it. That would never happen in the US.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Lower income and run down to me doesn’t equate to being dangerous.


0 ( +0 / -0 )

In my 30+ years in Japan, I have yet to find anywhere remotely dangerous.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Kind of like the US where 7-Elevens are most often in nicer areas while Circle-K stores are in the crummier neighborhoods. Not 100% of course but by and large true.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Even though Japanese people make out it's a homogenous country, they're (covertly) classist as hell...

....even on ludicrous trivial things like what the local convenience store stocks

0 ( +0 / -0 )

What utter nonsense. The article was not even backed up by data i.e. the prevalence of the local crime rate and the type of crime. Frankly, sales of Ozeki One Cup to middle aged men do not make an area crime-ridden (although I would opt for a Kikusui if I had the chance).

ignoring the higher crime red light districts, where you do not need to see a conbini to know the score, I am very sceptical of the findings here.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

What does danger look like in Japan? Been to many dangerous places in Europe and North America, never been to one in Japan. Never knew they had any. Lower income ans run down to me doesn’t equate to being dangerous.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

its convince stores are well-stocked with One Cup Ozeki

What's a "convince" store?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

and counting the number of people with impressive ink

Are you saying those are the people that keep the area safe? That could be true.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I'm only kidding around. My local sento in the neighbouring Industrial Province of Ota has inked up dudes sometimes, but it's a really family-friendly area (to the extent that some of my colleagues are surprised I live somewhere so "boring").

0 ( +0 / -0 )

SneezyToday 04:27 pm JST

You can tell if your neighbourhood is a rough area by going to you local sento and counting the number of people with impressive ink as opposed to those without.

I don't know about that. I live in a quaite naice area of the People's Republic of Setagaya and when my water heater broke down last winter I went to the local sento. I was surprised to see three super straight-looking salaryman types with ink, one of whom had a massive and elaborate sun design on his back.

Not as many as you'd expect to see in the downtown areas but I was shocked to see any at all.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

You can tell if your neighbourhood is a rough area by going to you local sento and counting the number of people with impressive ink as opposed to those without.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Based on the article, it sounds like communities may be able to make their neighborhoods safer based on convenience store policy changes, e.g. no sake, no ~ magazines, yes - offering public toilet facilities . . . .

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Regarding safety, I don’t know about you, but I lived in many places before around the world and I have never felt so safe as in Tokyo and Japan in general.

It will be very difficult to adapt if/when moving out of this incredibly peaceful and safe country.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

This really depends on the franchisee. The filthiest conbini I ever saw was in Shimbashi of all places.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Good information!!!

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Creepy yes, but dangerous? I don't know. Yoshiwara north of Asakusa is a strange place with mobster looking type owners/mangers waiting for customers outside of windowless but colorful, ahem, hotels. I should go to a nearby 7-11 next time I commute on my bike through there. Can't be that dangerous since I see school kids walking through there.

I have seen dirty looking convenient stores with trash outside in the countryside with notes thanking me for keeping the bathroom clean. Ooo, must be a dangerous area.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Not sure about Kanto but some shady areas, would not say dangerous, some of these include Shin Imamiya in Nishinari ku in Osaka, Minamiku and Minato ku in Nagoya. Been to convince stores in all of these places and they were like many everywhere else in Japan.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Unfortunately it's not always EAST??? Is it supposed to be EASY maybe? Nobody proof reads anymore I guess. Dangerous neighborhood in Japan, what does that mean, an old man might give me a mean look, LoL? 7 comments here, not bad.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The comments in the article are ridiculous.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

OK, that can be continued. I tell you something. Those areas are all unsafe IF they have a convenience store, whatever it looks like. You are only safe when there is a five-star French restaurant and a yacht harbor

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Trash cans re for customers only. Yes. I might not buy anything from your store TODAY or maybe not from THIS particular branch, but I’ve been to other shopS plenty of times without tossing any trash so I just use it whenever I need to. Same goes for the toilet.

They're all safe.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Not dangerous , just lower income areas.. Mainly North Tokyo .

6 ( +7 / -1 )

This is a funny story. On the one hand, I would wonder what they mean by dangerous, since there is very little violent crime in Japan in general. Convenience stores do get robbed, but it rarely results in anything but a loss of cash. Most violent crime here isn't street crime.

On the other hand, one type of crime that is both violent and prolific is sexual assault and harassment, and yes, older men + alcohol is a combination that often results in women being groped and targeted for harassment.

One example of such a neighborhood is Kanda - all the women I know warned me when I said I was considering moving there. Apparently the combination of cheap izakaya and working class bars means that groping happens with regularity there.

I can say the same for Kabukicho, as well as the area around Okubo. This I know from personal experience, since I lived in that area for many years and always had to watch my back(side). LOL.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

Are these signs of a dangerous neighborhood? Sounds like it’s more apt to be true for locations with a lower household income, but “dangerous”?

8 ( +8 / -0 )

The answer is, of course not.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

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