Ride the Seibu Shinjuku Line to Iriso Station in the city of Sayama, Saitama Prefecture, and you can enjoy shopping at Japan's oldest franchise convenience store, a Family Mart that opened in September 1973. The following May, the nation's first 7-Eleven outlet was opened in Toyosu, Koto Ward — not far from the site of Tokyo's new central fish market.

The father of the most successful retailing model in the past half century is 86-year-old Toshifumi Suzuki, who resigned as CEO of Seven and I Holdings Co. in 2016. Credited with building 7-Eleven into Japan's largest convenience store chain, Suzuki was convinced that such outlets could co-exist with large supermarkets and his vision up to now proved correct.

Operated by Seven and I Holdings, 7-Eleven is the industry leader in Japan with 20,925 outlets, followed by FamilyMart (16,426 outlets) and Lawson (14,659 outlets). Minor players in the game include MiniStop (2,183), Poplar (475), New Days, which are operated inside stations by East Japan Railway Co. (more than 900), Daily Yamazaki (1,493) and Seikomart (1,195).