Teaching In Socks


small sacrifices
September 14, 2008, 5:12 pm
Filed under: Japan, Teaching, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , ,
Coffee in Disguise

Coffee in Disguise

I’m not entirely sure which demographic this coffee targets. Clearly, the rainbow themed packaging would have a different connotation in the United States. I won’t even mention the Freudian “Suntory Boss” logo. Although, I will admit, on its own I think the Boss logo is cool– this may be inspired by the fact that on some of the ads, they use a picture of Tommy Lee Jones. I’ll drink any coffee that is Tommy Lee Jones approved.

Regardless, inside that purple top is a Transformers action figure. He is small and there is some assembly required, but he comes totally free with this coffee. Thus, I purchased the can and am now the proud owner of both a caffeine buzz, and empty rainbow coffee can and a Decepticon action figure. I am not surprised I fell for this gimmick, in spite of the packaging.

The ad wizards have known that  free robot action figures have been my Achillies heal in the past. It’s not like my house is swarming with them, but I am confident that somewhere in Corporate America there is a Dossier titled, “Ted and the McDonald’s ‘Free Toy Robot’  Happy Meal Giveaway:1988-89” that floats around and is occasionally cited in grandiose power point presentations.

I won’t go into too much detail, but with the exception of the time they interrupted “Muppet Babies” to show the protest in Tienanmen Square, all of my memories of that year consist of greasy hands and Chicken McNuggets. I may have consumed thousands of Chicken McNuggets.

In fact, if the advent of the TV-Talk Shows and Fast-Food backlash had come a bit earlier I’m sure my experience would have merited a free trip to the Maury Povich Show where studious audience members would have berated my parents with shameful insults while I, oblivious and greasy, played with robots 4-7. You can’t blame my parents though. My desire to collect the entire series of robots was instinctual, primal and  unstoppable.

Old habits die hard and I’m sure the next few weeks with my find my blood pumping caffiene and my apartmetn litered with preference-ambigous rainbow cans.

(Note: I now have two, and had to talk myself out of #3 this evening also, it appears this advertising agaency Suntory has chosen have recieved some accolades for their work: Award for Tommy Lee Jones)



Vend Diagram
August 29, 2008, 4:58 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , ,

I’m going to keep it light for the weekend. Attached are images and descriptions of the vending machines that are keeping me alive.

Here is sector one.

The Grail

The Grail

Nothing exceptionally special here, however i would like you to take notice of the volume of machines, and perhaps the ration of machines to customers at this given moment. It’s usually like this, and since I’ve arrived,  I can’t recall seeing a queue, or small riot demanding more machines. Maybe I missed the great “storming of the machines”  and there’s a holiday dedicated to it that I am unaware of but frankly I see five drink machines bunched up together. It’s a bit of an overkill. Perhaps even machine cannibalism.

I do enjoy the variety though. Within in these machines there are roughly around 100 different buttons you could hit that would provide you with a can of brewed, chilled coffee for 120yen. Would you be surprised if I told you that I caved to this dark master every morning?

That said, each variety has 2 buttons of territory, but you’re still looking 50 different varieties of coffee, all somewhat reasonable priced. We may not have a Starbucks in town (that I’m aware of) but this lonely mall corner caters to my needs.

Scientifically, this corner alone contains enough caffeine for a few third world countries. If only we could deliver it to them somehow it would provide that igniting spark of energy eventually leading to a repaired developing world with a new economy, government, agricultural practices, transportation infrastructure, criminal justice system. social hierarchy…but I DIGRESS (coffee does that to a man).

Back at the coffee corner I should mention that they have more than coffee. In fact there is a plethora of choices available: your typical selection of teas, juices sports drinks for the active shopper (Gatorade, however, is absent as it is not a global thirst quencher) as well as water–which happens to be the most expensive item of the lot at 130 yen. Typical.

Here is sector two, which is a mere 7 meters from sector 1.

The Moneymaker

The Moneymaker

This is really celebration station for me.  In the center we have the juice box machine. This is the best value at 100yen a box, and is a panacea for the health-conscious sugar addict. I turn to this machine when I’m feeling guilty about drinking too much coffee, or more accurately, when people ask me why my hands are shaking and I realize that I’ve had too much coffee. In retrospect, I should probably make more use of this machine in the future because I have a feeling students can understand me better when I’m not trembling with the excitement of a caffeine buzz. My pronunciation is a little more articulate and my sentence structure perhaps a bit more diligent.

To the left, yes that is a cigarette machine.

On the right, is what I refer to as paydirt. Yes, you are seeing that correctly, those are ice cream cones in a vending machine. I have tried every flavor except the ones that look gross–namely Pina Colada and some form of fruit slush that I haven’t been able to deterine the fruit base of. Rule of thumb, if you can’t locate an exact citrus foundation of something orange and yellow and you are in a foreign country, stay away from it, it could be ANYTHING. There are no “safe” colors here.  You have to remember that in Japan, no matter what color the food is, or the medium in which  it is presented to you, it could always, I repeat always, be fish.  Sometimes, you just don’t want fish.

Regardless, I have sampled the six other flavors fearlessly, and I have no favorites but tend to stray to the chocolate side of things (insert whatever inappropriate punchline you can think of here on your own time, this is a family site).

I apologize if this dissapointed. I know most of you were expecting a more otherworldy array of contraptions, like a coffee machine with a tiny dog baraista inside it, or perhaps a machine with an army of sushi making robots. Unfortunately, I haven’t found those…YET. In the meantime, this vending machine cornucopia keeps me alive, gets me through the day, and pushes me down the path towards early-oneset-diabetes. So worship it accordingly.