Dan in JapanJump to Table of ContentsReturn to Main Page
 [1.15] Beer Vending, Viva City, Hikone Castle Last updated 
15 Jan 1999 

Beer in a Vending Machine 15 Jan 1999
Yes, in Japan you can buy beer, whiskey, and all kinds of alcoholic beverages in vending machines. This set is located in the middle of a residential district. Imagine seeing that out your window between your house and the houses on the other side of the block. You do not need any sort of ID to use the machines -- cash is all you need. You don't see that in the US. There are all kinds of strange vending machines in Japan. I'll have more pictures of the odd ones in later sections.

Viva City 15 Jan 1999
Today was my first time at Viva City, a mall-type structure in South Hikone. I rode my bike to the Hikone train station, the train to the Minami Hikone station (it takes three minutes), and then walked to Viva City.

Before I entered, I noticed a Toys 'R' Us beside the mall (I haven't gone in as of this writing).

Inside Viva City there are restaurants, bowling alleys, a karaoke room (I think), a multi-screen movie theater, a video/gambling arcade, and quite a large shopping/grocery area. We first went to the food mall and I ordered a curry croquette dish. It was pretty good. When I tried to order a drink, I pointed to the Coca Cola dispenser and said "Coke". This confused the people behind the counter. So I said "Coca Cola". Apparently, when ordering Coke in Japan, you should simply say "Cora". When I tried to specify "Medium" (since there were three cups with S, M, and L below them), I again confused them. You need only say "S", "M", or "L", I found... they won't know what the full words mean.

Sam Blair (JCMU student), who was sitting across from me ordered an "L" "Cora", and I took a picture of the container it came in because I thought it was humorous. I'm not sure if they have such a thing in the US.

After I was finished, I took a picture of the restaurant in front of me, and the Dairy Queen beside me (pictured: Sam Blair). How much does a small soft ice cream (sofuto kureemu) cone cost? 200 yen.

Next Sam wanted to show me the "cool horse game". We entered the video arcade, and I noticed immediately that the line distinguishing video games from gambling games from vending machines was very blurry. The game Sam showed to me was called GI Classic EX. It's a horse race "simulation" with computerized betting. There's a big table where the little horses run around (I think controlled by magnets under the table), surrounded by video consoles. You sit at a console, drop some tokens in, and bet on which horse(s) will win (you can see the odds for each horse in the little rectangles). If your horse wins, you get paid that amount of tokens (e.g. 2.2 in this picture) back.

After losing money on the "cool horse game", we walked out of the arcade, but stopped to watch someone play "Dance Dance Revolution", a dancing video game. It has 4 big switches on the floor, with a video screen showing a certain sequence of dance moves. Your feet have to touch whichever switches the screen says -- in perfect time with the thump-thump music that's playing. The guy we were watching drew quite a crowd; he obviously had practiced the game before. Behind the dancing game there was "Dodge Racer Full Scale", a car racing game where you actually sit in a real car body and use its steering wheel and pedals while watching a 170 degree panorama of projected video screens. 300 yen per play. Here's the picture of the dancing and racing games.

We next visited the large grocery area, and were stopped in our tracks by a woman giving out free samples of Suntory Hops beer. Yes, you got free samples of beer when you walked into the grocery store. We took our sample, and laughed at the idea of someone doing that in the USA. So, we walked around and back toward her. She tried to give us more free beer, but we just asked if we could take her picture.

When we left Viva City, we were sure to stop outside the KFC behind it and take a picture of the Colonel. I've seen a couple other KFC's in Japan, and I think they all have life-size statues of the Colonel.

Hikone Castle at Night 15 Jan 1999
On the way home, as we were riding our bikes, we saw Hikone Castle lit up on top of the hill. I have a few pictures of Hikone Castle, but I still haven't been there yet (we do have a scheduled "field trip" there later). The picture you see here was taken from very far away and at night, so it's not the clearest of photos.

back | forward | contents | home Shigaraki Tanuki Statue