I followed its power cord back for a solid ten minutes before I found the little building on a trail it led to.
Somebody restocked that vending machine. Somebody installed it.
It's like this throughout Japan. Boggles the mind.
The first time I saw one, I was probably ~6 years old and my grandfather stopped by on our way home to mill some of the rice he had grown. I was confused since growing up in the States, I had never seen non-white rice until that point.
It's actually quite enjoyable, as you get to run your fingers through warm rice pouring out from the machine.
haha, I've just realized I know you. Will have to ask you where it is sometime. Small World.
Close to where we used to live, by the bus stop in Hiratsuka, when I used to come back at night, the vending machine was brighter than the public lights.
I heard that story about 20 years ago.
The mountain is only officially open for a short time each year. I think most of the employees at the huts and other facilities are college students taking summer jobs.
Wait, what? Takao mountain is in Tokyo! Yeah, not central Tokyo but still, it's like a 45min train ride from Shinjuku. You make it sound like it's some remote place full of bears. :-p
(was in a more remote mountain that's ~2 hours away from Tokyo last year)
JK. Shinkansen can really makes telling distance by time funny.
On google maps, from NW to SE the longest point between trails I can find is 1.3km, but if you have the bad luck to head off one of the southern trails and get lost heading northeast, you could go just over 2km without seeing a trail. I mean yea, low chance of dying, but high chance of extreme discomfort :P
Takao can get too crowded. Head to Jinba 陣馬 which is just a few train stations away for fun and good food on top.
I am really intrigued.
According to this site Coca Cola dispensed around four million free drinks on 2011/3/11 (Great East Japan Earthquake).
Just kidding, I know they will just speculate about the possibility of it instead.
1. Alcohol and food store
2. No store
3. No store
4. Alcohol store
5. Eel restaurant
6. No store
7. Egg vending store (direct from farmer)
8. Rice polishing vending machine (turns brown rice in to white)
9. No store
10. Sightseeing ferry office/shop
11. Apple store (actually name of company but they import brand name products)
12. No store
That's obviously only a small sample but as someone who lives in Japan I can tell you that usually where there are alcohol stores, there are vending machines. Of course there are other places they are too, but in my experience, it's rare to find one without vending machines.
Then I turned the corner and saw a machine with Tommy Lee Jones' staring down selling hot cans of Boss Coffee. Made the night a little easier.
We had a Cup Noodle vending machine on our university campus which sold the elusive curry flavour, possibly the food I'm most nostalgic about from my time living over there.
Dydo stuff tends to be what the absolute cheapest vending machines offer. About five times I have bought a Dydo coffee, and five times I have decided to never do so again. Any of the Coca-Cola or Kirin (Pepsi does not exist beyond the brand here) stocked vending machines should be good and safe.
According to this, the Japanese ones keep the cans heated:
>>Proprietary heating technology
>>Unlike hot can drink machines in Japan, the Starbucks machine does not keep the steel cans heated. Instead, the container heats after the customer makes a selection.
Seeing my ryokan vending machine stock some mixture of underwear, shoes, toiletries and just possibly food (that may have been a separate machine), also!
What really surprised me is how in a place like Tokyo the machines seemed to only reliably function using change, whereas in Norway you pay for bus station lockers and public toilets with credit cards.
1. Make a syrup out of brown sugar by heating it in a pan with some water. The real recipe uses palm sugar but brown sugar is close enough.
2. Put it in a cup, then evaporated milk, then strong black tea.
3. Mix to taste. The three layers don’t mix together on their own. The more you mix it the sweeter the drink gets.
Mine was the hot lemon tea.
Maybe Amazon could bring back Automats?
Not being vandalized is mentioned in the article.
People in Italy were always kind of surprised to hear about US newspaper machines - the ones where you put in some coins - and you can take out as many newspapers as you want, essentially. They'd joke that people would regularly take them all in Italy, and in Naples they'd probably just haul off the whole machine, change, newspapers and all.
Honestly, I have no idea why those things even exist or how they make anyone money. It's baffling.
Compare and contrast: in Italy, until recently, you could only buy newspapers from newsstands, who had some kind of monopoly on their sales. You couldn't get them from a grocery store, and certainly not from a vending machine.
My understanding of Bodega is that they want to replace the mom-and-pop store with a centralized vertically-integrated company (theirs).
Seemed to be Bodega's plan also.
If they want to go after a particular market, so be it. I'd rather it be a new business than a venture by a corporate giant. That opportunity has been available to every mom-and-pop store too, right? Even if it was just one vending machine in one nearby apartment building?
I can appreciate the romance of corner stores, but if they're not innovating or marketing, they risk losing out to others who are.
I think avoiding products that spoil is easy but smart. Saves somewhat on transport constantly replenishing the cabinet, refrigeration, etc. Focusing your product catalogue is innovation to some extent.
It's like saying pizza hut coopted Italian pizza joints and drove Italian pizza makers out of biz. Sure, it did, but aside from the fact jobs were lateralized, what's the big deal about transforming the biz?
Same with Uber et all.
Same with Uber, it drives the price down and turns taxis into a fairly exclusive and respectable job (I'm mostly thinking about the London Black Cabs or the fancy Mercedes taxis I see here in NL) to a race to the bottom. The same happened to the postal service, turning it from a respectable middle class uniformed government or semi-governmental job to something stay-at-home moms do part-time. Mind you, the market changed and snail mail is nowhere near what it used to be. The markets for pizza and taxis haven't changed that much in comparison though.
Mostly a lack of, for a better term, conformity. There is very little crime in Japan and people trust each other way more.
In the US, those vending machines would get vandalized and probably stripped of their metal in under a week. Even if there was a market demand for them, the cost to service those machines would be astronomical.
It's because there are police everywhere, which keeps petty crime under control. There is a bounty for turning in lost money (and if it is not claimed after a certain period the person who turned it in can keep the whole amount).
Police are also mostly respected here because they (mostly) are helpful and don't harass citizens. Someone being beaten or shot by police like overseas just doesn't happen here.
> lack of diversity
I once worked at a place that was known for being a safe place for ethnic Koreans to "come out" about their real ethnicity. I was considered to be safe to work there because some were public figures and I would not recognize them, or at least not blab on social media about x TV presenter having Korean heritage.
I guess my point is that a lot of things in Japan are completely different to how they appear to a casual observer. Even asking Japanese people is not going to get you far, because most people will not tell you their real feelings or opinions unless you are a very close friend.
> close friend
I terrorised one Japanese work colleague by crying in front of him on a train (can't remember whether in London or Tokyo), but another long-standing Japanese colleague/friend would be entirely cool about it I suspect!
Both are East Asian. It's really hard to understand for my European mind.
European as in west-European? That part is relatively culturally and ethnically diverse; northern and eastern Europe are a lot less so, and tolerance towards foreigners is lower there. The English and French still really dislike one another for example, and they're much closer together than Japan and Korea.
Also all foreigners in Japan seem to hate each other for ruining the "purity".
You might revise your opinion about that somewhere around the hundredth time somebody tells you that you have to communicate with them by fax.
Advanced tech doesn't have to be high tech.
When just arrived in Tokyo for the first or second time and still feeling a bit nervous I went into an empty noodle place and was completely lost until the cook put down what he was doing and in utterly perfect English walked me through the whole process...
You can get hot drinks from bending machines in the middle of nowhere and just have to input a phone number in the GPS to be guided to a ryokan deep in the mountains of Akita, but kerosene heaters are almost universal (central heating is not a thing outside of large/business hotels) and many businesses require fax or physical stamps.
Why is that a problem though? Does it make their life worse in some way?
If you're there, and you're actively paying attention, you'll see an awful lot of nails.
I'll clarify that image by tell you they roughly get 9000 asylum requests a year according to the Japanese Government themselves . They are however extremely reluctant in accepting any of the requests, which is what I assume you were speaking about.
To some I can imagine that's quite a shock and horror, for some, it's a dream.
"Japan accepted just three refugees in the first half of 2017 despite receiving a record 8,561 fresh asylum applications, the government said on Tuesday"
"Only four refugees were accepted in the first half of 2016, when fresh asylum applications totaled 5,011, the Justice Ministry said."
Also known as xenophobia.
>For example, I read somewhere it gets less than 100 asylum seekers a year.
And this is by definition a good thing?
Don't forget the awesome working hours and working culture! It's so good that they even have a word for the awesome overworking: Karoshi .
I wouldn't romanticize Japan this hard as you are doing right now, it has it's own sleuth of problems just like any other country.
 Karoshi (Overwork Death) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kar%C5%8Dshi
I suppose it's probably due to the Japanese aversion to preservatives / prevalence of convenience stores, but one would think they'd have come up with some tricks like the ones they've perfected with cup noodles.
I'm not certain if that scheme is done for fraud prevention, or if it is done for convenience in order to have fewer employees.
Well, it sure stops both the indecisive idiots and the morons who can't unweld themselves from their phone.
One of my favorite moments was at a Superdawg in Chicago Midway. The standard, high-maintenance indecisive Californian was at the head of the line: "Well, I don't know. Maybe the <blah> but ..."
The enormous lady at the counter brandished a HOLY GODDAMN FUCKING HUGE ladle right under the Californian's nose with a relatively normal volume, but forceful, "Look, ah gots payin' customers lined up. Git outta da line, and come back when ya know what the hell ya want. NEXT!"
I guess you don't have to really shout when you wave around a ladle that big.
It brought tears of joy to my eyes. I wish customer service would do this more often.
"No soup for you!"
I was 14.
Ski resorts are my main source of vending-machine beer. Nothing better than cracking a can of Sapporo Classic in your first gondola ride of the day.
The animation on getting drinks out of vending machines in Shenmue (Dreamcast game) makes a lot more sense now.
Every vending machine can verify signatures using a CA certificate.
Charging stations and a vending machines also have a signing key signed by that central certificate. Whatever is written on the card is signed by whoever wrote it.
Charging a card goes like this:
- Read everything from the card (data + signature)
- Verify signature + expiration dates, etc
- Extract amount on card
- Decrement said amount
- Write new amount to card
- Sign data on card using local signing key
It's a bit more complicated than that, but you get the idea.
In some systems the logs of all transactions are reconciled asynchronously (if and when internet connection is available)
so if a card is cloned it can eventually be detected and blocked.
That's a great answer though, thanks for writing it up!
I'd expect that there would be a strong incentive to have the cards require network access to verify balances or else some enterprising hackers could potentially reverse engineer the process to add additional funds to the card.
A 2-liter bottle seems like it starts becoming flat remarkably quickly.
So, the average carbonation level of 4 bottles of coke is perceived higher than the carbonation level of 2 liters.
Or when I am at Taco Bell and I just want a small cup of soda, instead of that giant cup they give, I always get the "are you sure?"
(Before I realized this, I was once perplexed by where to throw out a food wrapper. I went into a restroom in the subway station and threw it out in the only receptacle I saw, which turned out to be the hand dryer. That was embarrassing.)
Hokkaido is also one of the poorest prefectures in Japan and has struggled since the economic bubble collapsed 3 decades ago. You see a lot of abandoned houses, and whole towns look empty as youth have moved to Sapporo or other larger cities for work and leave only the elderly to farm or fish, etc.
The Spike Japan blog stopped in 2014 but is a very interesting look into the rural collapse of Japan, and Hokkaido specifically.
Note that if you go just by that blog, you'd not want to visit. It's a great place to visit, to ski, etc. but there is the other side that SpikeJapan highlights.
I just started taking Japanese classes yesterday and I can't wait to go back next year.
I never really figured that one out.
It kind of looks like a miniature Fuji-san.
"If you had to reduce it to a sentence, the answer might be: anything that gratifies one's intellectual curiosity"
Photos of other cultures.
Top of the range products feature large digital signage on the front. Also, body-shape / gait recognition (age / gender categorisation).