Japan loves vending machines. Full stop. They are absolutely everywhere and in what appear to be the strangest and most random places. They carry all sorts of delicious beverages and one of my new favourite pastimes is to go to the vending machine at school and pick out a new random drink to try. At present, my favourite are the numerous varieties of delicious iced coffee (アイスコーヒー) in a can. I have been told that once winter arrives, the vending machines switch to dispense containers of hot coffee. Hot vending machines! Why has Ottawa not thought of this yet? Sometimes it`s just too damn cold to walk all the way to the Bridgehead. Hot coffee outside your door (and all doors, for that matter) at all times!
I have a theory on why they have vending machines everywhere (and consequentially why this wouldn't work in Canada). Vending machines help Japanese people to rid themselves of the mountains of change they all carry around with them. Scrooge McDuck levels of change. Japan is a very cash-based society. While most major places accept credit cards, it does not seem very common to use them. I saw a lil' old obaachan (grandma) whip out what looked to be the equivalent of at least $500 at the grocery store, slowly count out her money, and then return the wad of ca$h money to her lil' obaachan bag. No one batted an eye. It is also common place to pay for small amounts with large bills. I find myself constantly apologising for using a ￥5000 note to pay for a ￥150 soda and no one ever cares.
Another reason this works so well (and why it would be a hot mess in Canada) is that Japan has a very different take on trash than North America. I will likely write an entire post later dedicated exclusively to the beauty and madness that is the Japanese garbage system. BUT for now I would say that in Japan your garbage is YOUR garbage. There are very few (if any) public trash bins and so you take your garbage home with you and put it in your own garbage can. Vending machines don't cause a build up of litter and recycling because you take that empty iced coffee can and you damn well carry it around with you until you get home. It's wonderful.
I am currently on a bit of summer holidays and it is the middle of Japanese Obon (post forthcoming about Obon) so my days have been spent exploring Goto and its many beautiful beaches (life is tough). The other day I attended my first festival (matsuri) in a small neighbouring town and it was delightful.