Japan - from Asahi to Zen
Traditional terms, and a pop culture glossary through the eyes of a raw gaijin.
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Vegetable Racks,   Vending Machines

Vegetable Racks
Japan has a well-deserved reputation for being an expensive country.    Few things prove the truth of this more than the first time you pay for fresh vegetables in the supermarket.    The prices are astronomical by western standards.    Roughly one of your euro-dollars for an apple?    A single apple??    There are discounts available, often on a Tuesday night, or at other times, but still, you're fruit and veg bill is going to skyrocket.

Fear not, help is at hand.    If you live in a surburban or semi-rural area there's a solution.    Farmers and smallholders grow their own vegetables, and sell the excess produce in Vegetable Racks, which look like primitive vending machines.    Generally speaking there are a few shelves, covered with a tarp, and a little bucket for you to put your money into.    Take whatever you want, and drop the appropriate amount of money into the bucket - usually 100 yen per bunch of veggies.

Interestingly the whole system works on trust - if you really wanted to you could walk away with all the vegetables and all the money and there'd be nothing to stop you.    But the system works - the growers sell directly to the consumers, and hey, sometimes, Japan is a wonderful place to live. :-)

See Also:    Rice

Vending Machines
vending machines Pretty much the same as in the west, apart from the variety of stuff that you can get from them, and the fact that they seem to crop up on almost every street corner.

You stick in your note or coins and you can get the usual array of hot and cold beverages, or you can get a beer etc., but also some much more funky stuff.    You can buy so many different and unusual flavours of ice-cream from vending machines it's mind-boggling.    Fancy some rubarb-and-green-tea-flavoured ice-cream at midnight?    Now you know where to go!    Coffee, beer, cigarrettes, ice-cream, chocolate, condoms, chocolate-condoms - whatever you want, they've got it, and best of all, there seems to be a machine on every block!    But the wackiest thing I've seen so far?    That prize has gotta go to the vending machine selling Vibrators.

The vending machines help the Japanese buy "difficult" items, alcohol, contraceptives etc., in complete privacy.    However, concerns about under-age drinking may bring some changes to what is available from the machines.

See Also:    Honne to Tatemae

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