[Summary] What “Convenience Store Woman” Teaches Us About Being Yourself (Author Murata Sayaka)

I wrote this article in Japanese and translated it into English using ChatGPT. I also used ChatGPT to create the English article title. I did my best to correct any translation mistakes, but please let me know if you find any errors. By the way, I did not use ChatGPT when writing the Japanese article. The entire article was written from scratch by me, Saikawa Goto.



Movies and books covered in this article

(Click This Image to Go Directly to the Amazon.com sales page “Convenience Store Woman”: Image from Amazon.com)

I will write an article about this movie/book

What I want to convey in this article

Furukura-san chose to work at a “convenience store”. What have you chosen by yourself?

Saikawa Goto

In fact, I think Furukura-san is the one who is choosing to live life properly.

Three takeaways from this article

  1. I just cannot feel like I fit in with the people around me.
  2. How does everyone perceive the “rules in each situations”?
  3. There is no guarantee that being in the “majority” means being “normal”.
Saikawa Goto

I think that the very those who view Furukura-san as “abnormal” may actually be the “abnormal” ones.

Self-introduction article


Please refer to the self-introduction article above to learn about the person writing this article. Be sure to check out the Kindle book linked below as well.

Published Kindle books(Free on Kindle Unlimited)

“The genius Einstein: An easy-to-understand book about interesting science advances that is not too simple based on his life and discoveries: Theory of Relativity, Cosmology and Quantum Theory”

“Why is “lack of imagination” called “communication skills”?: Japanese-specific”negative” communication”

The quotes in the article were translated using ChatGPT from Japanese books, and are not direct quotes from the foreign language original books, even if they exist.

Is Living in Line With the People Around You “Normal”?

I Just Cannot Fit in With the People Around Me

The main character of this book is a woman named Furukura. She’s in her 30s, unmarried, and has been working at the same convenience store without pursuing any other career.

There’s a reason why she continues to work at the convenience store.

Even though there’s a perfect manual and I can become a “store employee”, I still don’t have a clue how to become a regular person outside of the manual.

Saikawa Goto

“I totally get it!” – that’s what I thought.

Since childhood, Furukura-san has repeatedly had the experience of behaving in a way that she thinks is “right,” but it confuses those around her. Although it is a natural act for her, people around her feel disgusted or show rejection for some reason. Even her parents treated her that way, so she already decided as follow in elementary school.

I’ve decided to stop taking action on my own, instead choosing to either imitate others or follow someone’s instructions.

I can understand Furukura-san’s feelings very well, although I haven’t experienced them to such an extreme extent. When I was a child, I often felt like I didn’t share the same feelings with those around me, and it was a struggle. One moment that particularly stands out in my memory is when everyone around me was laughing, but I didn’t understand why. I was often in situations like this.


So, you predicted to yourself, “I’m sure everyone will laugh afterwards,” and laughed, right?

Saikawa Goto

Exactly. Sometimes I made incorrect assumptions, and it was awkward that I was the only one laughing.

While I haven’t experienced such an extreme disconnect as Furukura-san, I have had similar feelings for a long time, so I understand her struggles. Anyway, after reading this book, I sympathized with Furukura-san a lot.

I Don’t Understand the “Normal” Rules

Reading this work, I was reminded of a line from the essay of poet Homura Hiroshi:

Whether it’s a cultural festival, a camp, a cleanup, or a job at a company, the same thing always happens. Something fundamental to all “situations” eludes me. I can’t see the spiderweb-like rules spread throughout the real world. I end up digging endlessly without knowing what’s purpose is the hole there. However, ignorance cannot be compensated for by eagerness.

“蚊がいる”(Homura Hiroshi/KADOKAWA)

I still feel this way sometimes. I wonder when everyone else learned the rules of this situation. I’m amazed by people who can say things like “If you don’t do this, you’re not reading the room,” or “In this situation, it’s normal to do this,” or “It’s impossible to do something like that.”


If it was something like a SHIKITARI( traditional ceremony or ritual), I could understand if someone pointed out a mistake.

Saikawa Goto

But people who dismiss every situations as being a “due to party pooper” are hard to like, you know.

As I grew older, I gradually installed something like a “rulebook of society”. Although there are still things that feel uncomfortable, I feel like I know how to deal with them for now. That’s how I gradually became able to respond to things like “common sense” and “obvious”.

At the same time, I’m also consciously behaving in a way that creates an atmosphere of “I don’t follow society’s rules” so that I can become someone who isn’t forced to conform to what is considered “common sense” or “obvious”.

In this way, I have been involved with a society that makes me feel like I don’t fit in.

Saikawa Goto

I’ve been studying how to behave so that even if I deviate a little from society’s rules, I can still be accepted to some extent.


You had to do that to survive, hadn’t you.

However, Furukura-san made a completely different choice.

Before Being a “Human,” I am a “Convenience Store Clerk”

Furukura-san thinks, “If I end up stopping because I don’t understand the rules of society, I should go to a world where there are perfect rules.” And the place she chose was the “convenience store.”

I thought to myself, “I want to go to a convenience store early.” In a convenience store, being a member of the working staff is the most important thing and it’s not complicated than my everyday life. Regardless of gender, age, or nationality, if I wear the same uniform, everyone is an equal presence called a “store clerk”.

While convenience stores are indeed very convenient for customers, they may not necessarily provide an ideal working environment. However, for Furukura-san who sees convenience stores as a “world where perfect rules exist”, convenience stores are like heaven.

Looking at the expressions of Izumi-san and Sugawara-san, I feel relieved that I am doing well as a “human”. How many times have I repeated this feeling of relief in the convenience store?

By memorizing the rules of the convenience store perfectly, Furukura-san can become a “perfect convenience store clerk”. And people who see her in this state would perceive her as an “ordinary person”. People naturally feel that because she is a normal person, she can become a normal convenience store clerk. And that’s why Furukura-san is relieved to be seen as such.

Actually, she can’t be a proper person, so she just decided to be a perfect convenience store clerk in a convenience store with perfect rules, but by being a perfect convenience store clerk, she can be seen as a proper person. Furukura-san values this and believes that the convenience store is her place to be.

Saikawa Goto

I thought this setting was brilliant.


It’s hard to imagine someone who sees “working at a convenience store” in such a positive light.

I greeted with the same tone as before, bowed and took the basket.
At that moment, I could have become a component of the world for the first time. I felt like I was born just now. I, as a normal component of the world, was indeed born on this day.

She also says that she is a convenience store clerk more than being a human.

The protagonist’s distorted perception of the space called “convenience store” makes this work very interesting and fascinating. Many readers may see Furukura-san as a “weird person” and read her story like watching a rare animal.

However, is it really appropriate to view her that way?

Isn’t it the Majority that is the “Anomaly?

In the story, the characters perceive Furukura-san as “abnormal.” The fact that she hasn’t married or pursued romance, and has only worked part-time at a convenience store, goes against the “norm” of society’s “majority,” making her seem “strange” to them.

While reading this book, I couldn’t help but wonder how the “majority” of people in today’s world would have behaved if they had lived during wartime.

The majority during wartime in Japan probably saved money for the country (“luxury is the enemy” was a common saying, and saving was encouraged throughout the country), believed in Imperial General Headquarters announcements that hid the worsening war situation, saw their sons off to suicide attacks as an honor, and received training with TAKEYARI (spears made of bamboo).

I don’t want to say that such a way of life was bad. However, at that time, such a way of life was considered “normal,” and I suspect that the “majority” of people at that time unquestionably lived in this way.

In Japan a few decades ago, working to the point of death due to overwork and experiencing power harassment and sexual harassment were commonplace. Additionally, pollution was likely even worse than it is now.

The point is, just because someone belongs to the “majority” does not necessarily mean that their way of life is “normal.”

Saikawa Goto

I always feel this way.


People who are on the side of the majority always seem to exude an atmosphere of being right.

Even though it has somewhat faded, I still think that the values of “you should get married when you reach a certain age. It’s strange if you’re not” still remain, especially in rural areas. However, in another 50 years, we may enter a time when people say, “What? Was there an atmosphere in society that getting married was the norm? I can’t believe it.”

Now, what about Furukura-san? Whether it was during wartime or during Japan’s prosperous era, I believe that Furukura-san would continue to live without changing her stance. She should be able to live by making choices such as “this is probably the best way for me to live” without being swayed by the atmosphere of “this is normal for this era”.

So, when you think about it like this, which one is the “normal” way of living?

In a democratic country, the idea that the side with the most people wins is widespread. However, there is no guarantee that the “majority” is “normal.” Rather, I feel that Furukura-san, who chooses to live the life that is most comfortable for her without being swayed by the atmosphere of the times, is more “normal.”


Most people live their lives being swept away by the majority and seem not to make a decision about how to live.

Saikawa Goto

I don’t blame them for that, but I think it’s wrong for those people to deny Furukura-san.

Furukura-san has chosen a convenience store as the best place for herself. This action also involves seriously considering “how should we live.”

Therefore, anyone who reads this book must realize the following question.

What is “convenience store” for you?

If you cannot answer this question, it may be evidence that you are living a life lower than that of Furukura-san.

Content Introduction

Furukura-san couldn’t fit in with those around her since she was a child. Therefore, she gave up on acting on her own will.

As a freshman in college, Furukura-san happened to see a job opening for a convenience store opening staff and started working there part-time. And unexpectedly, it was a comfortable space for Furukura-san. Until now, she had been constantly making mistakes by acting on her own judgment without knowing the guideline for how she should act, but there was a perfect manual in the convenience store. If she followed it, she could be a perfect convenience store clerk.

That’s how Furukura-san was able to be “reborn” as a “convenience store clerk.”

For the past 18 years, Furukura-san has continued to work part-time at the same convenience store. The manager is now in her eighth generation, and none of the staff who were there when Furukura-san started are still around. However, in order to be a perfect convenience store clerk, Furukura-san thinks about the store even when not there. By thinking about the store, she feels that she can be a correct part of the world, and that’s enough for her.

This peaceful environment changes when a lazy part-time staff member named Shiraha joins the store…


It was a really interesting piece of work. I’m the type of person who tends to think, “I don’t really need to read popular works,” because I’m a bit of a contrarian, but I’m glad I read this one.

Saikawa Goto

It won the Akutagawa Prize and was selling like crazy, so I probably wouldn’t have read it normally.


Sometimes there are things like this that you can’t underestimate even if they’re bestsellers, aren’t there.

Anyway, I think the setting of the “convenience store” is excellent.

I believe that the “convenience store” is a symbolic existence of something that is exactly “uniform,” but Furukura-san, who feels proud to live as one of its parts, is actually not uniform at all. Without being swayed by societal norms, she has chosen the “convenience store” that she believes is the best on her own will.

On the other hand, people who criticize someone for “working part-time at a convenience store despite being old enough” are depicted in this book as a very unremarkable and “uniform” presence.

This contrast is filled with sarcasm and I felt very exciting. If you can’t sense this sarcasm, you may want to face the fact that you may not have chosen your own life by your own will.

In addition, Shiraha, who shakes up Furukura-san’s life, is also a very intriguing presence. Please read and find out how Furukura-san interacts with someone who comes to break her “everyday” life, which had been lived in perfect calmness.


This story is very interesting and it seems to bring out the “abnormality” of those who perceive Furukura-san as abnormal. If you can relate to Furukura-san, it’s a fun experience to learn about how she finds a place in the “convenience store” and how she deals with the world.

Despite its brevity, this work has a profound depth.

Published Kindle books(Free on Kindle Unlimited)

“The genius Einstein: An easy-to-understand book about interesting science advances that is not too simple based on his life and discoveries: Theory of Relativity, Cosmology and Quantum Theory”

“Why is “lack of imagination” called “communication skills”?: Japanese-specific”negative” communication”

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