Per a reader request, I'm starting a series on The Vending Machines of Japan. I know that sounds like a coffee table book, but bear with me--I have been fascinated by vending machines here since the day arrived. Literally. I distinctly remember my first encounter with a vending machine at Narita. I was exhausted, just arrived, thirsty. Scanning the arrivals lounge, I spied a machine. Unfamiliar cans and plastic bottles, except for the Coke, and a great many more choices than I'd ever seen in a machine. I was thirsty, so I didn't want Coke....but what? I couldn't read. Anything. For the first time since age (4? 5?), I was completely illiterate--an odd feeling.
I hadn't any idea what to choose, so I simply chose a can with the prettiest picture on it, put in some money, and picked up the can.
Which I promptly dropped. Hot! A hot can out of a machine. Pulling my hand into the long sleeve of my shirt, I picked up the can again, opened it, and took a sip. Tea. Not black--some sort of green tea. Good--and warm.
Looking again at the machine, I noticed what I (in my jet-lagged state) hadn't before--that some of the prices had a blue background, and some were red. The tea I had chosen had its price listed on a red background--hot. Cold and hot. Now that I can read, I can see that it says right there "つめたーい" (tsumeta-i) and "あったかーい" (attaka-i), cold and hot, respectively.
|L to R: pure green tea, royal milk tea, straight tea, lemon drink, soda, vitamin drink|
At the time, I was astounded by the variety of drinks to be found in vending machines--machines that are *everywhere*. Sometimes every few feet. They contained 4 or 5 or more types of tea, an equal number of coffees, juice, sports drinks, yogurt drinks, vitamin drinks, and very little in the way of sweet carbonated drinks.
|click on images to enlarge|
Bottom row--hot cafe au lait, hot blend coffee, hot different blend coffee, hot another blend coffee, hot sugarless coffee, hot different milk tea.
And the next machine up the road will have a different offering.
Click on that photo up there--the tea (in a pet bottle in this case) on the top row, all the way to the right, is So-Ken-Bi-Cha, the tea in the hot can with the pretty picture I had the day I arrived. My goodness, I love vending machines in Japan!
Mata Asobou, ne!