Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A Completely Unrelated Piece on Japan and its many Subtleties

From the moment I stepped off the plane I knew I was home. Well, not technically. I’m half-Chinese, but still I feel I share a deep seeded connection with anything Asian. Different cultures? Yes, but I break boundaries. Diversity? More like diversiME. So once my feet graced the earth on the island of Japan I was primed and ready. Adventure time in Japan had begun!

Though this was my second trip to Japan with the YPC, I never took advantage of the blog. There are so many subtleties in Japan that need to be shared! So I need all of you avid readers to know many of my ideas! For instance, the Japanese have, rather smartly, replaced human vendors all over the country with robots: robots called vending machines. And these aren’t your typical run-of-the-mill “I-want-a-fanta” vending machines. No, they are a little more… enticing. Need an umbrella? Umbrella-vend got chu. Need a coffee? Coffee-vend got chu!

Need a hot coffee? HOT-COFFEE VEND GOT CHU! Sound obscure yet? Not even close. These vending machines are EVERYWHERE. From the busiest train stations to the quietest alleys, you’ll find vending robots that will spit you out tea, coke-a-cola, water, cigarettes, beer, ice cream, and even hot noodles! You can even walk into some restaurants and order your food from the automated tellers and the cooks in the kitchen will prepare your food! The machine takes your money and the chef gets your order in a matter of seconds (that is, if you can translate the machine). No need for a waiter!

But Charlie, what about all the Jobs lost, taken by these machines?! Well little John Doe, think of all the jobs made! Kiosks run by people are still very present in Japan, but these vending machines exist and thrive in the middle of nowhere! It actually amazes me that I can wander down a narrow, rural street, put a 1000 yen bill (~ten dollars) into a vending machine located in the shadows, and get my drink and receive exact change! How do the Japanese keep all these machines stocked fully? I’ve never encountered an issue where I could not get my CC Lemon or my Calpico drink! The m

achines are never broken either! At what times do they collect the money?! How is the system run?! How are they so universal? My answer: Ninjas. It’s the only logical explanation.

Another interesting observation of Charlie’s is the incredible amount of rice fields present wherever you go in Japan. Yes, there are fields all over America, but these rice fields are not just on the outskirts of small cities and towns. You’ll have a normal block of houses and then suddenly- BAM! RICE FIELD! Right there. You weren’t expecting it, but now y

ou’ve come to accept it. They are all perfectly rectangular, perfectly aligned, and perfectly all over the place. It’s like duck, duck, goose: House, house, house, house- RICE FIELD! By the train tracks with no discernable house in sight, RICE FIELD! Squished between a concert hall and a shopping mall, RICE FIELD. “Yes it’s a wonderful day outside! I think I’ll enjoy a good game of baseba-“ RICE FIELD. I suppose people need to eat, and maybe as a New Yorker I find fields somewhat foreign on many levels, but you’d have to see the situation yourself to understand. Why do these fields need to be everywhere? Who put them everywhere!? My answer: Rice Ninjas. It’s the only logical explanation.

- Charlie

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