Weill in Japan Jason Weill Web Productions
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Amusing Products

Tokyo is a wonderful place for a capitalist-minded, easily amused foreigner such as myself. Many of the pictures I took were not of landmarks or architecture or any other boring crap, but of products and other fine evidences of capitalism. Of particular note is "Engrish," the compulsion of Japanese marketers to twist around the English language to sell products with nonsensical or meaningless taglines.

This Kirin beer can is of "Good Value and Quality" and is "Brewed for Good Times."  "Sheer refreshment!  Open up the smooth taste that goes perfectly with good times." A friend of mine is convinced that every proper coffee vending machine has a Café Mocha button.  Even in Japan, where gourmet coffees have only recently established a foothold, I was able to find a proper coffee machine in the academic building. For ¥100 (about US$0.85), this is the cup of Café Mocha that you can get.  It's really tiny, but refreshing.  I like it way better than the "espresso" that the machine spits out. A slightly blurry shot of the coffee vending machine itself, well-stocked as always.  It sits next to a "brick" vending machine, which dispenses 250-mL cardboard packs containing juices, milk, and other flavored drinks. Coca-Cola was running three lotteries during the summer of 2002.  On all products, you earn points: 10, 20, and 30 points can be mailed in to buy an entry to the lotteries.  Top prizes are concert tickets, a Casio Exilim Camera/MP3 player, and a mountain bike respectively.  I bought an entry for the 20-point lottery, but I guess my Exilim is still in the mail. In Odaiba, this vending machine was probably the most expensive non-food, non-drink machine I found.  For up to ¥1800 (about US$15) you can buy soccer balls or disposable cameras.  I've seen film vending machines before in the U.S., but soccer balls? A mouse pad at the Loft department store in Kichijoji.  It says "Ellipse; Snow, moon, and flower / All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy."  I didn't buy it. Drink vending machines in Japan can have as many as 20 or more types of drinks.  This picture shows a few of the canned coffee brands that are numerous in Japan.  What's a "Mandheling Blend"? Yes, Virginia, they do have Mountain Dew in Japan.  They still use the old-style pre-"extreme" logo, though. The back of a Mountain Dew can.  Yes, MD is caffeinated in Japan too. Kit Kat Pineapple.  I bought one of these bars at a train platform kiosk.  It tastes pretty much how it sounds: Nestle chocolate-coated wafers with pineapple flavoring.  I like pineapple juice and even those albino pineapple-flavored candies, but this wasn't very good.  Rumors of a "Kit Kat Banana" abound, but I couldn't find one in Tokyo. Pure Sugar!  I saw this in a 100-yen shop.  Despite the fact that those sticks look an awful lot like Pixy Stix, the package contains only "stick sugar," or sugar in cylindrical wrappers. Ah, Japanese vending machines.  They say you can buy just about anything in them, although I found only one candy machine during my six-plus weeks in Tokyo.  I mostly saw beverage machines (alcoholic and non-alcoholic), cigarette machines, and one porno vending machine.  Cigarette vending machines turn off at night, while porno machines are covered by foil sheeting by day. This vending machine wants me to see my time. A soft-serve ice cream vending machine, sighted at Leisure Land in Odaiba.  I don't want to think about all the ways kids can screw up here. Smap! is a popular boy band in Japan.  To commemorate their most recent album, a beverage company produced a cherry-flavored soda in cans marked with the band's name.  The can design also serves as the CD's cover art. To celebrate the release of Star Wars: Episode II in Japan, Pepsi and Lucasfilm instated a commemorative bottlecap promotion.  Every bottle of Pepsi included one miniature figure and a sticker.  Six stickers plus about US$12 could buy a full set of special figures, and six stickers plus about US$30 could buy a commemorative stand.  Instead, we used the TV set as a stand.  (The minivan and Peppermint Patty figure were from other sources.) Packaged like milk, looks like fruit juice, but that's "Suntory White Liqueur."  Mmm, mmm. Among the many drinks offered in vending machines are "vitamin drinks."  Costing anywhere from ¥120-800 (US$1.00 to $6.50) these foul-tasting tonics are like liquid vitamin pills.  They're mostly popular with older people. Wild Consomme Pringles are just one of a few Pringles flavors you won't find in the U.S.  Their brothers include Crispy Curry, Mild Salt, and Funky Soy Sauce.  Wild Consomme Pringles don't taste very wild, just salty.