Using internet in my lab, and too lazy to upload photos, so will talk about something I've been itching to talk about for a while now: vending machines!
In Sapporo (and Tokyo), you will be hard pressed to find a vending machine that isn't at most 5 minutes by foot away from another vending machine. That is only in areas very few people go, in more populated areas you find them in pairs or more every 10 meters or so... All of them have drinks in them: from black tea to green tea (many many kinds of tea) to different soft drinks, fizzy drinks, juices and water.
You pay for the same drink quite a bit more from vending machines, they're something like one and a half times as expensive as from the スーパー (suupaa: supermarket lol I love how the words are compacted), or from the コンビニ (conbini: convenience store hehe again). A lot of them even have specific garbage cans for the bottles and cans you get from the machine, which is pretty cool.
I found it so interesting that each one had different kinds of drinks, so I started making a point of checking each one I walked past out. Not only does the variety differ from one to the other, but so do the prices sometimes. A small example from Akihabara (heaven for all geeks and otakus in Tokyo): one machine had 330ml cans of Mountain Dew for 120 yen (something like 1.2ish doodoos). Then less than 5 minutes away, while looking for a used vacuum cleaner, ended up in an Indian repair shop (I think? They also sell traditional-looking Indian clothes, found many interesting places but that is a tale for later) and I found a machine there that had the 500ml can for 100 yen! Strange me thinks. Nearly as strange as there being someone keeping tabs of all this world-altering stuff!
So while talking about this, I found out from a reliable source (which means there are no references for any of this :D ) that these vending machines are usually owned by mobsters, and that there are a lot of disagreements about who gets to put which machine where, since very populated intersections or areas are highly sought after, and really make lots and lots of monays!
And now onto some plagiarism, the following is copy-pasted from Wikipedia:
Japan has the highest number of vending machines per capita, with about one machine for every twenty-three people. Japan's high population density, relatively high cost of labor, limited space, preference for shopping on foot or by bicycle, and low rates of vandalism and petty crime, provide a fertile environment for vending machines. While the majority of machines in Japan are stocked with drinks, snacks, and cigarettes, one occasionally finds vending machines selling items such as bottles of liquor, cans of beer, fried food, underwear ^^, iPods, porn magazines, sexual lubricants, live lobsters, fresh meat, eggs and potted plants.
In 1999, the estimated 5.6 million coin- and card-operated Japanese vending machines generated $53.28 billion in sales.
And that is the end of today's lesson boys and girls, hope you all learned something new about the world we live in. A bientot.