died in the wool ______

To have no set purpose in one's life is the harlotry of the will -Stephen Mackenna-

Friday, May 20, 2005

konbini: teas to oden

Boss is in Kyoto, no press release today (although possibilities of sending solar panels to Amchi doctor communities in Tibet have come to light. wow!) And it's tea time.

One of the best things about Japan is the relative quality of the convenience stores (or as they say here 'konbini'. Maybe it's not quality really. All I know is that the first 7-11 I ever went to was in Japan, and when I check out the food at the gas stations (which have become the convienence stores thanks to the US car culture, well, maybe not in New York, but that's the exception) I usually leave with nothing; it's inundated with overly sweet overly salty overly fizzy downright untasty garbage.

Especially the drinks here are very drinkable. There's:

Black tea: which is usually sweetned (don't think lipton here; it's totally different)and comes with lemon or...

Royal Milk tea: The above with milk added to it. I thought it would be revolting. Now I laugh at myself for saying that because I drink it fairly regularly.

Jasmine tea: nuff said

A bazillion kinds of green tea (natch), which I'm only just starting to be able to distinguish.

Then there's juices. In the states I used to have a box of Vruit (or one of knudsen's great juices with my lunch everyday in high school long before V8 started making crap mix juices. Well they sell in the convenience store here , and pretty cheap too.

The conveniece stores also have maki rolls like negi toro (cubed raw tuna and onion) natto (fermented soybeans, definately an acquired taste (which I love!)) and the typical onigiri (rice balls, which I don't eat anymore really, but I digress)

Almost every convenience store in Japan also has oden. I blamed oden for making Japan smell for my first couple years here, but I have finally developed a taste for a few things from the oden trough. It started out with just daikon and the eggs, but now I like atsuage and even those pouches with the mochi in them. It has a lot of vegetarian options!

Sure, Japanese convenience stores have the same American garbage like potato chips, really bad fried meats/fried foods, carbonated drinks etc. but they aren't exclusively so. It's no wonder that Americans are so fat.

One intersting thing about convenience stores in Japan is that they also work as the only garbage cans in Japan. Whether its fear of another gas attack of the subway, or trying to save on municipality budgets, convenience stores are the only place you can find trash. If you look the picture, you'll notice that there 3 garbage cans. One is for burnable garbage, one is for non-burnable (these are often amusingly written as 'combustible'), and one is for recyclables.

You can also purchase concert tickets, pay your utilities/phone bill, and in recent years have become the only source of 24 hour ATM's in Japan (most ATMs close early evening).

All in all, compared to the US, it's interesting how integral the convenice store is to life in Japan.


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