I’ve posted in the past about my dislike of paying $5 for a cup of mud-like filter coffee, and I’ve been actively seeking better alternatives. Today I bought a small filter coffee at Maccas for just 100 yen. After I paid they said they could also do me an Iced Coffee for free. So that’s two coffees, one iced and one hot, for around $1.30 in total.
Coffee still takes like mud, but at least it’s reasonably-priced mud.
A few weeks ago I went to Osaka to catch up with my friend from Takarazuka, Crazy K.
To save money we looked for a cheap hotel. Because Japan’s urban areas are some of the most densely populated in the world, the main way hoteliers can reduce their costs is to reduce your space. In the case of our particular hotel they reduced it to this:
It was a bizarre mix of high-tech and high school. After checking in at reception we were given keys to our metal lockers where we could stash all of our stuff. We then refreshed ourselves in the communal baths, bought drinks and snacks from the onsite vending machines, watched TV in the 1980s communal lounge, and then retired to our $25 coffins to die sleep.
The capsules were actually surprisingly comfortable, and I would’ve slept quite well if I hadn’t foolishly consumed caffeinated coffee at 11pm, and if drunken salarymen hadn’t entered loudly at 3am triggering a half-asleep and justifiably grumpy capsule occupant to start shouting “Oi”, “Ooi”, “Ooooiiii”. How considerate.
The next morning I witnessed a quintessentially Japanese sight. A crumpled businessman emerged from his capsule, got dressed outside his high-school-style metal locker in a shirt, cufflinks and a fine business suit, and styled his hair for a power meeting, thereby transforming himself from a shrivelled drunk to a successful business professional in just 5 minutes. It was like I was witnessing the accelerated metamorphosis of a caterpillar to a butterfly. Well maybe not a butterfly… perhaps just some kind of ultra-efficient grey moth.
Yoshinoya – It’s often described by worshipful Japanese pundits as “The Japanese McDonalds”. Well, its not really the Japanese McDonalds. That would instead be the actual McDonalds, which is the same as McDonalds Australia except with radioactive caesium.
Yoshinoya is in the business of selling Gyudon – a bowl of rice topped with fried beef. At any time of the day or night you can pop in here and within 60 seconds be sitting in front of a pile of steaming……….. Gyudon. In part of an ongoing price war with a couple of its rivals, Yoshinoya has cut the price of a basic bowl of Gyudon to 280 yen (just over $3). I was about half way through my bowl before I started to consider whether or not it is actually possible to produce a bowl of Gyudon for $3. I concluded that there must be some parts of a cow (probably somewhere deep in the middle) that are available in some countries (probably China) at a low enough wholesale price for Yoshinoya to make a profit on a $3 rice bowl.
The most striking thing about my local Yoshinoya, however, is how indeterminably sad it is. All of the staff are ladies in their 60s, still working for $10 an hour at this classic fast food joint. The customers are almost all middle-aged men who come alone, stuck working long hours in jobs they hate. They gruffly place their orders without any common courtesy whatsoever. The 60-year-old female workers subserviently run to the kitchen to fulfil them. The decor is dated and tired; the food uninspiring.