6. Vending Machines
Holy cow, there is just no way to describe all of the things you can get in vending machines here in Japan. They have them everywhere and they are awesome! You can see the cigarette machine above, these are somewhat more limited to every 2-3 blocks instead of every block, but there is always one within walking distance. Since I’m not a big smoker, I’m more enthused about the vending machines with drinks. They have coffee in vending machines! Entire machines devoted to coffee actually (with dozens of options). And Juice machines, machines that offer milk, four billion different kinds of waters, soda, tea, you name it; they have it. And while junk food machines aren’t as popular (actually kind of rare surprisingly), they have many that offer ramen, noodles, soups, and some that even offer hot food. On the streets. I’m not joking with you. It’s pretty sweet.
Notice anything missing in the picture above? Actually it’s a trick question because there are two things remarkably absent from the streets of Japan. Trash and Trash cans. I have no earthly idea how they manage it, but somehow Japan manages to combine a lack of trash cans (you can go a whole day without seeing one) with remarkably clean streets. There is no littering. Anywhere. You will see trash bags on the street corners on trash-day, but otherwise, there is no trash on the grounds. No cigarette butts (shocking since they smoke so much), no cans or bottles (against surprising given how much they drink), no food trash, no paper. It’s clean. Kind of scarily clean. Makes you wonder if they don’t have secret robots wandering the streets at night cleaning up. Otherwise, I have no idea how they manage it.
Ok, I’m sure you’re wondering what the heck the above picture has to do with honesty, but it really is part of it all. I’m not sure about the rest of Japan, but both Yokohama and Kyoto have been amazingly honest places. One friend left her laptop in the busy cafeteria of a local college. Three hours later she recovered it laying at an empty table right where she left it. Another left her I-Phone on a bus and found out it was turned in when she went back. If you go the the market and hold out your hand with a ton of cash, they will only pull out exactly what you owe. They may occasionally overcharge the foreigners, but they aren’t thieves. Even the little kids (6-7) wander around the city streets alone and no one is worried. None of us have run into the problem of pick-pockets. Someone actually ran out of a restaurant to hand me a 5 cent piece I left on the chair. With that in mind, I’ve been told that it is technically illegal to pick up a penny off the street since it is considered theft in Japan. Not sure if that’s true, but they don’t take anything that doesn’t belong to them–even pennies.
No discussion of Japan would be complete without a nod to their delicious dishes. I speak on behalf of my friends when I say that their fish dishes are just too good to be true. I have been told that they do sushi like nobody’s business. Personally, I’m allergic to fish, pork, and soy products, thus making it a little difficult to find meals in Japan. But, I still will miss certain foods when I go back home. First is their beef. I happen to LOVE their beef and rice dishes. Add in veggies and I am a really happy woman. The sauces they use, the combinations of spices, make their beef dishes delicious. They also pretty much rock at Italian. We have actually eaten as much Italian food recently as we have Japanese. Apparently, Japan, more than most any other country, excels at making traditional Italian food, and I have been much impressed. But the best part is their sweets. Oh my gosh, they have the most beautiful, wonderful, tasty treats ever. While you can get a cake in the U.S., every dessert in Japan is like something straight off the counter of a French Pastry Chef’s kitchen. It’s gorgeous, all carefully designed to be aesthetically beautiful and appealing. But it is also sooooooo good. I am definitely going to miss the desserts. But that might be a good thing considering the weight I’m gaining
Sorry. I’d like to start off by saying that it is more or less impossible to take a picture in a club. It’s either too dark, too many flashing lights, or everyone is moving and making things blurry. So this is the best I’ve got. Still, it gets the point across. Japanese clubs, like those in Korea, are so much fun! Japanese dancing is kind of funny in that you don’t really dance together, partner to partner. They will have a DJ on the stage, and everyone faces the stage or dances in big circles. It’s kind of individualistic and great for both those with and without partners. You can almost always find a club that specializes in US music; we’ve been heading to the Kyoto World Bar up on Shijo street, and it is American music. You’ll get everything from strobe lights to fog and other great additional. It’s a ton of fun and I like it better than US clubs.
Yes, after all the nice things I’ve said about Japan, there is one thing that I will not miss. Apparently getting perfection costs a fortune. The treats above cost $9.50 each. That’s right, the size of a cinnamon roll in Panera Bread for $10. They say Tokyo has NYC prices, but I’ve found it to be true in even the smaller towns. A trip to the local temple will cost you at least $6 if not more. Beef is practically unaffordable. The only way to avoid all this is to shop at one of the many dollar stores in Japan (of which Daiso is my favorite). But still, I seriously cannot afford to stay here. I’d be broke in a month.