Average Opening and Closing Times of Stores in Japan - Do Japanese Stores Really Close Super Early?
Have you ever been frustrated by looking forward to going shopping while on vacation, only to find that the store you wanted to go to had already closed? The differences in rules between travel destination countries and our home countries can be quite confusing. Business' operating hours are an obvious example, as stores in some countries are open late into the night, while stores in other countries close before dusk. This article will explain the opening and closing hours of stores and facilities in Japan so that your dream Japan trip doesn't get thwarted by closed shutters!
Jul 13 2020 (Sep 09 2020)
Table of Contents
Average Japanese Company Working Hours
The typical workday at a Japanese company starts at between 9:00 and 10:00 am and lasts until between 5:00 and 6:00 pm on weekdays, depending on the industry.
Due to most people working similar hours, the trains become incredibly crowded during rush hour, which is from 7:00 to 9:00 am and after 5:00 pm on weekdays. There are areas in downtown Tokyo where the trains reach up to 200% capacity! Crazy rushes aren't limited to Tokyo—Osaka, Nagoya, Sapporo, and Fukuoka also have busy rush hours, which is a common sight in the mornings and evenings of urban cities that have well-developed public transportation systems.
However, the situation is slightly different in rural and agricultural areas where people mainly rely on vehicles as a mode of transportation. What they do have in common when the workdays start and end is not the crowded stations, but the crowded roads. Highways and other large avenues fill up and create a rush hour similar to that of the city. The modes of transportation may change, but the effects sure don't.
Keep in mind that the running times of the first and last trains are different between urban and rural areas. For example, trains in Tokyo generally start running around 4:30 am and stop around 1:00 am during the weekdays. On the other hand, in Morioka City, in rural Iwate Prefecture, for example, the earliest train runs at around 5:00 am, and the last train stops at around 11:00 pm. The number of trains running per hour is also much smaller in rural areas in comparison to urban areas.
Weekend Hours of Operation: How Different is it From the Weekdays?
The majority of shops and facilities, excluding public institutions, have the same hours of operation during weekends and holidays as they do during the weekdays. There are no major changes, except for some restaurants and other shops that open earlier and close later during the weekend.
Stores That Are Open 24 Hours
There are many stores across Japan, especially in the cities, that are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The first that come to mind are convenience stores, including 7-Eleven, Family Mart, and Lawson. Additionally, many manga cafes, family restaurants, fast food restaurants, and grocery stores are also open 24 hours. Even if they are not, oftentimes these kinds of stores will open very early and close quite late. Although all convenience stores were originally open 24 hours, companies have been changing their policies in recent years so that nowadays, there are more and more locations that close overnight while the trains aren't running.
Hours of Operation for Public Institutions
Embassies/Consulates (9:00 am – 3:00 pm)
Generally, embassies and consulates are open from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm, although it can differ based on the country, the individual facility's system, and the reception office. Looking at the U.S. Embassy in Akasaka, Tokyo, as an example, it is open on weekdays from 8:30 am to 12:00 pm, closed for a lunch break, and then open again from 2:00 pm to 3:30 pm. However, the department that processes visa applications is open 10:00 am to 6:00 pm on weekdays. We highly recommend checking the embassy or consulate's official website and finalizing reservations and all possible paperwork beforehand.
Banks (9:00 am – 3:00 pm)
Banks are generally open from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm, but this is only referring to the counters where any paperwork needs to be done. Most ATMs are open from early in the morning to late at night, but there are occasionally times on the weekends or at night when they cannot be used due to maintenance. ATMs in rural areas, however, often close much earlier, around 7:00 pm.
Many ATMs located in convenience stores are available 24 hours for withdrawing cash, excluding some machines at Lawson convenience stores. These ATMs can even be used to exchange your home currency and withdraw it in yen, making them incredibly convenient for travelers as well.
Also, Japan Post Bank ATMs located at post offices, and Seven Bank with machines in 7-Elevens, accept most international cards, allowing you to withdraw in yen.
Post Offices (9:00 am – 5:00 pm)
Post offices' standard hours of operation are from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm during the weekdays. However, the hours of operation and closing days can differ depending on the area and size of each post office. The larger hub post offices in each area generally have longer opening hours and are often open on weekends and holidays as well. In contrast, the smaller branches in the vicinity of the hub post offices often have shorter hours and are closed on weekends and holidays. At any post office, you can send postcards, stationery, and packages, both domestically and internationally, as well as exchange Japanese yen with international currency at the counter. However, note that coins are not accepted, only paper currency. You can check where your closest post office is through this link.
Hours of Operation for Large Shopping Centers
The standard hours of operation for large-scale shopping centers are from around 10:00 until 9:00 pm on weekdays, weekends, and holidays. For example, the business hours for the LUMINE Shinjuku mall in Shinjuku, Tokyo is as follows:
<LUMINE Shinjuku Hours of Operation (Example)>
・Weekdays: 11:00 am - 9:30 pm
・Weekends, national holidays: 10:30 am - 9:30 pm
・Restaurants (Weekdays): 11:00 am - 10:30 pm
・Restaurants (Weekends, national holidays): 11:00 am - 10:30 pm
(Peak hours: Weekdays 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm / Weekends, national holidays 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm)
Excluding January 1st or an occasional irregular closure, large-scale shopping centers are generally open all year round. Many shopping malls do close early, though, during the huge "hatsu-uri" (first sale of the year) sales that take place on January 2nd and 3rd at retailers across the county.
Surprisingly enough, large shopping centers in rural areas tend to have longer hours of operation than those in urban areas. If we take a look at the hours of operation for the Aeon Group, a highly popular shopping mall chain that is scattered across the suburbs all over Japan, the shopping area is open from 9:00 am to 11:00 pm, the restaurants are open from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm, and there are also many locations where the grocery shopping area opens at 7:00 am. The difference in opening hours is most likely due to the fact that customers in the city commute by train, whereas those in the country commute by car. Of course, hours of operation vary from location to location, however, so we highly recommend checking the store hours before heading over.
Hours of Operation for Other Facilities
Restaurants (11:00 am – 2:00 pm / 7:00 pm – 11:00 pm)
Restaurants that are individually owned are often open on weekdays from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm and then 5:00 pm to 11:00 pm, with a break in between. Something to note is the break in between the two intervals—this break is something that many restaurants will have. However, most chain restaurants do not have this break and are open all day from the moment they open their doors. What is also interesting is that many restaurants' Friday hours are shorter or longer than other weekdays, as it is thought of as the start of the weekend. This differs greatly from restaurant to restaurant, however. Also remember that the last order, the final time to order any more food or drink that day, is often 30 minutes before closing.
Cafes (7:30 am – 9:00 pm / 8:00 am – 8:00 pm)
Chain Cafes (7:30 am – 9:00 pm)
Opening hours will often differ between weekdays and weekends, with many chain cafes opening later and closing earlier on the weekends. In addition, many cafes located in busy shopping areas or that are close to major train stations are open late into the night.
Other Cafes (8:00 am - 8:00 pm)
Opening hours often differ between weekdays and weekends. Many cafes that are located in business districts filled with office buildings will stay closed on the weekends.
Fast-Food Restaurants (11:00 am – 10:00/11:00 pm)
Many fast-food restaurants located in the shopping districts of Tokyo and Osaka or around the stations of urban areas are open 24 hours.
Izakaya (5:00 pm – 12:00/5:00 am)
Chain locations (Sunday - Monday: 5:00 pm - 1:00/2:00am, Friday/Saturday/Day before national holidays: 4:00/5:00 am)
Other izakaya (5:00 pm - 12:00/1:00 am)
Many izakaya located outside of large cities (such as Tokyo or Osaka) or the busy town center of more rural areas close earlier, at around midnight.
Conveyor Belt Sushi Restaurants (11:00 am – 11:00 pm)
Many conveyor belt sushi restaurants in rural areas will close at earlier times such as 9:00 pm. Also, many standard (non-conveyor belt) sushi restaurants also close at around 9:00 pm, and they also often have a break where they are closed in the middle of the day.
Family Restaurants (10:00 am - 10:00/11:00 pm)
Many family restaurants that are located in shopping districts of Tokyo or Osaka, or around stations in urban areas are open 24 hours.
Clothing Stores (10:00 am – 8:00 pm)
Clothing stores are generally open from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm, but small differences often exist such as chain stores that open from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm on weekdays, or stores in large shopping facilities that open from 10:00 am to 9:00 pm. As an exception, however, small stores frequently don't open until 1:00 pm. Small-scale brands or vintage clothing stores often fall into this category. Although it's usually safe to assume that most shops will be open during the afternoon, this can vary greatly depending on the store, so we highly recommend checking a store's hours of operation if you've got a specific place in mind that you want to visit.
Theme Parks/Amusement Parks (8:30 am – 10:00 pm)
The hours of operation differ by day for theme parks and amusement parks all across Japan, whether it be Tokyo Disney Resort, Sanrio Puroland, Universal Studios Japan, or Fuji-Q Highland. The general hours are from 8:30 am to 10:00 pm, but this can change depending on the season or if it's the weekend or a national holiday. Moreover, some parks have a "final night" schedule on December 31st, where the park is open until early the next morning. The parks often display their schedules on calendars, so be sure to check the official websites to find out when they are open!
Aquariums/Zoos (9:00 am – 5:00 pm)
Aquariums and zoos are generally open from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm on weekdays, and final entry is 30 minutes before closing. During the summertime, various facilities offer "special night hours" from 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm, in addition to regular hours. This is a great opportunity to enjoy special nighttime-only scenery.
Museums (10:00 am – 6:00 pm)
Hours vary depending on the museum or exhibit. Many museums will close later on the weekends than on weekdays.
Game Centers (Arcades) (10:00 am – 11:00 pm/12:00 am)
Legally, game centers are not allowed to be open 24 hours, so most are closed from midnight to 6:00 am.
Karaoke (11:00 am – 5:00/6:00 am)
Karaoke rooms often open until the early morning, depending on the area and business. Even in rural areas, there are plenty of karaoke shops that close as late as 2:00 or 3:00 am.
Live Houses (Concert Venues) (5:00 pm – 10:00 pm)
Live houses are legally operated as bars in Japan. The strict "Law Regulating Adult Entertainment Businesses" holds a watchful eye over any establishments related to adult entertainment, so live houses find it easier to classify themselves as bars with sound equipment, offering live music performances for their patrons to enjoy. Because they are considered food service establishments, around 90% of live houses in Japan will require you to purchase at least one drink upon entry. By serving at least one drink to every customer, it is easier for the live houses to protect their status as a bar. Additionally, in order to not get mixed up with the adult entertainment businesses, live houses cannot stay open late into the night, so the music will often stop at 10:00 pm, and by 11:00 pm, everything is shut down.
Hair Salons (10:00 am – 8:00 pm)
Japanese hair salons are generally open from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm on weekdays. What is especially important to mention is the closing days; many salons in Tokyo and other parts of Eastern Japan close on Tuesdays, while in salons in Osaka and other parts of Western Japan close on Monday. This custom dates back to the 1940s, during World War II. During that time, each region in Japan had a "no electricity day," when the electricity was shut off due to national power shortages during the war. For Eastern Japan, this day was Tuesdays, and for Western Japan, it was Monday. Perms were all the rage at the time, and the special machines used to give perms couldn't be used without electricity, which is why many salons decided to close on those days. This practice continues in various regions even to this day.
Nowadays, however, more salons are staying open into the night, closing as late as 10:00 pm, and the number that are staying open on Mondays and Tuesdays is also increasing.
Hospitals (8:00 am – 11:00 am/ 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm)
There are large differences between medical facilities when it comes to opening hours for check-ups and closed times. For the most part, weekdays are broken into morning time slots and afternoon time slots, Saturdays are mornings only, and there are no check-ups on Sundays. Often, it is not even necessary to make an appointment in advance. The general check-up time slots for most medical institutions are from 8:00 to 11:00 am in the morning and from 1:00 to 5:00 pm in the afternoon. It goes without saying that university hospitals and larger hospitals will have longer hours of operation and check-up time slots, so if you must see a doctor while you are in Japan, be sure to look for your closest clinic or hospital, and also check which one is open the latest. In the case of an emergency, you can also check the web guide to medical institutions in Japan that the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) put together: https://www.jnto.go.jp/emergency/eng/mi_guide.html
This guide details where you should go depending on your symptoms, explains how to get a medical examination, and gives the addresses, hours of operation, and closing days of various medical institutions.
When traveling overseas, what seems like common sense in your country may not apply. In Japan, this is true even when it comes to hours of operation of stores and other facilities, which are dictated by the Japanese standard of time, stemming from Japan's unique rules and customs. Before heading to a store you want to go to while in Japan and being disgruntled by the "closed" sign hanging on the door, make sure to check the hours of operation beforehand in order to get the most out of your time in Japan.
*In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, many shops and facilities are currently shortening their opening hours. We strongly recommend checking any official websites before visiting.
Title image credit: Shawn.ccf / Shutterstock.com
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The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.