Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s a suspiciously familiar looking purveyor of snacks.

Lawson convenience stores can be found almost everywhere in Japan, and in some cases on opposite corners to each other, as the third most common convenience store after 7-Eleven and Family Mart. Our Japanese-language reporter K. Masami was travelling through Nara Prefecture when she thought she spied one in the distance, perfect for a stop to grab a drink and stretch her legs.

On closer inspection, this wasn’t a Lawson at all, but an imposter! Despite the blue-and-white theme, and a very similar logo, it was a completely different conbini, as convenience stores are called in Japan. Intrigued, our reporter decided a closer inspection was necessary, in the name of journalism, and given that she was still needing a drink.

▼ The usual Lawson convenience store frontage with the milk can logo,
one of the over 11,000 stores across Japan

▼ A closer comparison of the two logos. Up close they may look pretty different but while driving some way down the street they’re easily confused.

It seems that the shop used to be called “Moreson” (モーソン) but, after some legal trouble due to certain similarities, it’s now rather more of a mouthful, operating under the name of “Morikura Hula Hula”. Our reporter dug a little deeper, and it turns out that the little shop began life way back in 1955, selling tofu. After that it branched out into other foodstuffs, daily essentials and alcohol until it reached its present convenience store incarnation.

Lawson isn’t the only company this little shop is paying homage to/ripping off, as these Moriqlo stickers bear more than a striking resemblance to the clothing brand Uniqlo’s logo. Buy some of these stickers for just 200 yen (US$1.83) and you can fool your friends into thinking you’re wearing genuine Moriqlo goods (not that anyone will have heard of them).

Upon entering the store, it seemed a fairly run-of-the-mill convenience store with the usual snacks and drinks on sale. One major difference was a section selling clothing, all with the Moriqlo logo proudly displayed.

▼ It also had something which real Lawsons don’t: fish so fresh they’re still swimming.
These masu trout (amago in Japanese) were the locals’ recommendation.

▼ They also sell local products and souvenirs.

Most Lawsons don’t offer much in the way of photo opportunities, for pictures that can provide a treasured souvenir as you wow friends, family, work colleagues and people on the train with the story of the time you went to a convenience store that looked a little like a more famous convenience store chain. And that’s a pity.

After reading this article you may be tempted to make the pilgrimage to Morikura Hula Hula yourself, but be warned that unlike many other convenience stores, this one isn’t open 24 hours and is closed on Wednesdays.

If Nara Prefecture is a bit far to get to, there are other refreshingly different conbinis around Japan, such as those within military bases, or a Family Mart that looks like it’s just stepped out of Feudal Japan.

Store Information
Morikura Hula Hula (Morita Shoten)/モリクラフラフラ(森田商店)
Address: Nara-ken, Yoshino-gun, Tenkawa-mura, Kawaai 49-3
Open: 9 a.m.-7 p.m.
Closed Wednesdays

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Inert images: Wikipedia/呉, ©SoraNews24