I know I'm not the only one who has heard about those vending machines where you can apparently purchase used women's underwear, although I have yet to come across one myself. We've all heard of the toilets with built in water fountains and heated seats that emit a flushing sound at the push of a button should you not wish your co-workers to hear what depraved things you get up to in the bathroom. The advertisements shown here featuring western celebrities saying bizarre things have been doing the rounds on the internet and cropping up in films for many years now. In short, what I'm trying to say is you would want to have been living under a soundproofed rock at the bottom of a remote valley with no means of transport to anything resembling civilization not to have heard of some of the interesting and odd things that exist in this wonderful country.
A google search of "interesting facts about Japan" will give you the usual generic stuff: they eat horse meat, they have an aged population, there are over 200 volcanoes, the country is comprised of 70% mountains, the first geishas were men, karaoke means "empty orchestra" etc... I have come across some far more interesting things than that which I am now about to share with you. Aren't I good?
|A cup of boist* towelettes in a restaurant|
1) They will give you boist* towelettes everywhere. When you sit down to eat in a restaurant and even when you get take-out food from a convenience store they will put one in your bag for you. These little towelettes are for cleaning your hands before you eat. The handiest place you find them is in arcades so you can clean your sweaty palms before you go back for round two of Time Crisis. Gone are the days of quickly wiping your hands on the front of your jeans while you have a few spare seconds waiting for the screen to load.
2) Magic buttons in restaurants. Never before have I come across these fantastic little pieces of technology although maybe they are common in other countries? Simply press the button on your table at a restaurant and a server will appear seconds later to take care of your every whim. Customer service is incomparable here. I can only imagine the Irish would take advantage of these buttons. I can also imagine myself as a waitress chucking one at someone's head after they pressed it for the umpteenth time.
3) There are vending machines everywhere. And when I say everywhere I mean... everywhere. It is difficult to go a single street here without finding one. There is rougly one vending machine for every 25 people in this country. It would be impossible to die of thirst unless you had no change, no arms to take out your change, or no friends to take the change out for you. You can get things like soft drinks, chocolate, ice-cream, beer, sake, bottles of whiskey, cuppa noodles, cigarettes and even flowers, eggs and vegetables. Also porn and underwear for those so inclined.
4) Internet cafes. Pay 100yen (c.€1) for an hour and you may drink as much coffee or juice as you want and eat as much soft cream (ice-cream) as you please. You can also rent a booth in an internet cafe for 2000yen (c.€20) for 9 hours meaning if you miss the last street car home you can kip in a booth and wake to a nice breakfast of all you can drink juice and all you can eat ice-cream before making your merry way home.
5) People hand out free packs of tissues on the street during summer. There is advertising attached to the packs of tissues which I dutifully ignore as I can't understand it. I'm not very good at saying no to them though and I have an ever expanding collection of tissue packs in my handbag. Maybe I'll sew all the tisues together and make a blanket for winter...
|These are just the ones I could find. There are more hiding|
at the bottom of my bag and around my apartment
Here are 5 random facts for now. I'll come back to you when I have 5 more. Seems like a good number.
*Replace the 'b' with and 'm' and you'll know what word I mean. I can't stand the sound of that word it makes my skin crawl. I can't even bring myself to write it.