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Cut off from restaurants, Tokyo’s visitors find culinary delights at 24-hour convenience stores.

Cut off from restaurants, Tokyo’s visitors find culinary delights at 24-hour convenience stores.
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Cut off from restaurants, Tokyo’s visitors find culinary delights at 24-hour convenience stores.

Cut off from restaurants, Tokyo’s visitors find culinary delights at 24-hour convenience stores.

TOKYO – Noodle joints, kebab shops, sushi counters. Those of us who are here to cover the Games watch him through tinted windows on languid bus rides from one Olympic venue to another.

This is for good reason. Japan is in a state of emergency. Coronavirus cases are on the increase. To unleash thousands of foreigners like me, an American journalist, in a city – in its restaurants, bars and shops – would be reckless. But we need to eat.

Enter the saving grace of these Olympic Games, the glue that holds it all together: Tokyo’s 24-hour convenience stores, or conbini, as they are called in Japan. They quickly became a primary source of sustenance – and, more surprisingly, culinary delight – for many visitors navigating one of the strangest games in history.

All of us – athletes, team members, officials and journalists – are prohibited from venturing anywhere other than our hotels and Olympic venues. Trips outside this bubble cannot exceed 15 minutes.

We can’t cross the galaxy of food outside the Olympic limits, but a conbini contains a culinary world unto itself, an abundance of bento boxes, fried meats, sushi, noodles galore and all kinds of elaborate dishes. wrapped in plastic and rare snacks.

In the lobby of the main press building, a Lawson store rises every day with multinational crowds looking for their next meal.

The 7-Eleven outside my hotel is buzzing with activity long after midnight, as people returning from late events gaze, frozen by choice, at endless rows of ready-to-eat food items, seeking to match the components. in a perfectly tailored meal.

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Even athletes have been seen carrying shopping bags full of snacks.

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