Don't worry - all you Coke fiends can still get your fix in Japan

There's a vending machine in the downstairs lobby of the Suzuki school. It sells water, cold tea (with and without milk), various cold coffees, and coke. There are three more vending machines directly outside the front entrance with a similar assortment. In fact, walk about 20-30 feet in any direction in downtown Matsumoto and there's a good chance you'll run into a vending machine or two. It seems that about 70% serve non-alcoholic beverages, and I'd be willing to wager that the next highest percentage would serve cigarettes, followed by alcohol and whatever else.

Every day for lunch I treat myself to something from one of these machines (they range from 100-150 yen) and so far I've managed to stay away from the coffee and Coke (and Fanta!) without repeating myself. I figure I can have all the Coke I want back home and anyway, I'm more of a Pepsi girl. Despite my best efforts sometimes when I look at the labels on the backsides of the drinks (the parts you can't see when they're in the machine), tucked away below all the Japanese characters, there it is - the familiar Coca-Cola logo.

(I've also avoided the Minute Maid Limen Ade (sic) but there was a very convincing commercial for it on Mrs. Ishii's T.V. this morning involving a broken high-heeled shoe and lots of dancing)

Today the one I chose had no English indication of what was inside of it, but it was sort of a cloudy white and I figured it couldn't have any coffee in it and stay that light. I think it was dairy-based (again because of color) and my first impression was that it was kind of like drinking a liquid form of Yoplait lemon yogurt, but I later revised that to being more like those orange push-up pops that has been melted and watered down. It was good.

About half-way home today the thought occurred to me to count the vending machines, and I was so disappointed that I didn't start sooner. Not including the ones at the school or between the school and the park (which is the most metropolitan) I counted 15 vending machines. There's a pair that I have been eyeing all week now outside a liquor store that I've desperately wanted a picture of, but so far have been too self-concious to do it (there's usually someone fairly official looking hanging about when I'm walking - which also happen to be during "rush hours") The one machine contains malt-liquor. The other contains something undetermined as of yet, but I think I might need some because there's a frumpy looking cartoon on the front that turns thin and pretty when it uses whatever's in the machine. Maybe on Sunday if it seems like I can sneak one inobtrusively on my walk I will.

(completely off the subject, but I really feel like I can't just take pictures of whatever I want here. These are people's houses and graveyards and gardens, they're not tourist traps. It's not their fault that they just happen to live right in my path. Still, it's regrettable because so many of these houses look so Japanese they could be in a textbook )