“They are enjoying being robots,” a Tokyo friend of mine once explained, after I had unfavorably compared 7-Eleven clerks to automatons. Ubiquitous and abundant, convenience stores in Japan are an icon of modern life. But, behind the clockwork efficiency, are they in fact manned by contented robots?

“When morning comes, once again I’m a convenience store worker, a cog in society. This is the only way I can be a normal person.”

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