Japanese Vending Machines

Japanese Vending Machines 6

Here we have the godfather of all Japanese drinks, and the one offer that I refused on this trip, even on a dare. That’s because I’d already tried it once in my lifetime, and once was enough. I first visited Japan with my family at age seventeen, and in the 1980s Pocari Sweat was even more prevalent in vending machines than it is now. Curiosity finally got the better of my brother, who, figuring that “sweat” must be a misprint of “sweet”, bought a can, which we all tried. “Sweat” turned out to mean some kind of sports drink. Or sweat. Possibly, our father surmised, from a peccary.

Of course they didn’t give any lengthy warnings in English on the label in those days. If only they’d told us it was “a healthy beverage that smoothly supply the lost water and electrolytes from perspiration”, we would have declined the opportunity to absorb it into our human bodies, thank you very much.

I was more intrigued by the Amino-Value next to it: the one that promised to Make Your Body New. But Kim didn’t dare me to drink that; I got off Sweat-free. Instead, he pointed to another machine full of bamboo leaves and lemons and dared me to drink anything from it. Which I happily did... because I’d spotted the bottle with a discreet picture of red fruit on the label, indicating a tasty and refreshing bottle of apple juice. Yes, plain apple juice, from plain old apples that hadn’t been stuffed into the mouths of peccaries.

May 2006

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