This is a perfectly normal thing to hear in the morning. In fact it had never occurred to me that I might be surprised to hear this during the morning. But yesterday, I was. And that is because of the “speaker” from which it came.
A vending machine. I was greeted by a metal box full of drinks. In my own language. In Japan.
As I exiting Hachigata train station, I noticed some vending machines and decided to get some water. In my somewhat bleary state I scrounged around for some change and proceeded to shove it into the machine. As soon as the first ¥100 clinked down through the machine, a chipper little voice proclaimed: “Good morning!”
I stared at the vending machine. I know technology is advancing at a fast clip…but being greeted early in the morning by a vending machine will take one by surprise. Especially because it was speaking English in Japan.
When my water dropped down, the vending machine thanked me for my business, wished me a nice day and asked me to come again.
I have purchased many a drink from vending machines in many different countries, but this was the first to talk. I also know that stranger things have happened. But sometimes Japan really is just…odd. Odd to my North-Midwest American raised brain, that is.
A bit more about the vending machines in Japan. They can be very odd.
When we were last in Tokyo, we ran across a vending machine full of whole bunches of bananas. Right outside a bookstore. Japan is, in fact known for having bazaar contents of vending machines. Check this out. They have everything from eggs to umbrellas. Also, if you have heard about the alleged "panties" vending machines in Japan, it's no lie according to Snopes.
Besides the bananas, I have only seen the occasional strange drink. Like pancake flavored drink. Please don’t ask me why this drink exists. I haven't the foggiest idea who actually purchases these things. It's a mystery. oh-I have also seen beer vending machines. This one here is about a five minute walk from our apartment.
Living abroad and experiencing the roller coaster of culture shock (and reverse culture shock when you move back home) can make a person feel a bit like Alice in Wonderland.
Curiouser and curiouser.