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Last temptation of rice crackers

Illustration by Marie.  

It is at times of sheer desperation and extreme neediness; times when I need a fresh JY10,000 bill broken so I can get beer out of the vending machine, that I buy rice crackers. My reasoning at these times is so far from logic as to be a speck on the rationality horizon.

In England, if you want to break into say… STG5, spending anything less than a pound is asking for trouble. Requests of "just a Mars bar please" are an open invitation to abuse. To proffer a STG50 note (about JY10,000) is to cause uneasiness from the outset, and, unless you are buying something substantial with it, such as a complex electrical appliance, you will be considered a danger to society and arrested.

Japan, oh Japan. Land of plentiful, unashamed, safe cash. A kingdom where carrying a bushel of notes causes no due alarm. One could positively chuck one’s money into the air with the assurance that some kind person would help to pick it all up.

Certainly, wielding large denomination notes for all one’s small purchase needs is all but a national pastime. This brings me to the crux of my tale of woe.

Many a time I have successfully burned through a JY10,000 bill in record time and feel the fanciful urge to do the same thing again. Furthermore, this commitment to more spending is always, I feel, in need of a bit of liquid celebration.

And so I am faced with the dilemma. I want to buy beer from the vending machine placed so conveniently near my house, but I have no means to use it because it only takes JY1000 bills. However, I have lots of money and nothing I really want from the nearby, alcohol-free 7-11, my only link to change. If I were Japanese, I would have no problem. I’d just sashay in, buy a JY100 Cup Noodle and be done with it. My problem is twofold: a) Cultural habit precludes the buying of small purchases (see above) and b) If I have to buy something that I don't want, let it be, at least healthy...?

And this is where the irrationality takes over. Rice crackers are not healthy substitutes for other crunchy snacks. They belie all the evils of crisps, tortillas, butter popcorn and other primordial comestibles.

But, I forget this every time I am in this situation. What is more, I never opt for the tasty prawn cracker I know I am able to digest. Oh no! At times of stress, all I really want are the outlandish green ones with sprinkly stuff. They MUST be more nutritious, and look! They cost a little more than the others so I won’t feel so bad about the JY10,000.

So here I sit, having finished my meager beer but still faced with three quarters of a bag of rice crackers that taste like something between dry cleaning chemicals and soil.

And I shall have to eat every one of them to pay penance for using STG50 to pay for a bag of crisps.

Many thanks to Evelyn Anderson for this Rant.

Metropolis Online
381: The Crisp Linen Suit Syndrome
Unbearable heat and crisp linen suits
380: Smile
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379: What sign are you?
When signs start to complicate life
378: Off with the gloves
Battle of the readers
377: Stop before you shop
Stores that scare away gaijin
376: Home sweet home
Modern housing in Japan?
375: Nihonjinron
Theories of Japaneseness and insecurity
374: Plastic bags
Do we really need them for everything?
373: Doctor knows best?
A scary visit to a Japanese hospital
372: Don't forget the finger wagger
So you've never complained about Japan?
371: A-choob tale
The Sneezing Salaryman
370: The gaijin language snob
Dare to cross his path
369: Nihongo
One man's struggle...
368: Making sense of Roppongi
Why do I keep going back?
367: Hateus Japanus Expatricus
Great bar bores of the world
366: Plants and animals
Darwin's turning in his grave
365: No more groping - for now
Women only train cars
364: Man's best friend
Pets have it rougher
363: In praise of Tokyo taxi drivers
A good ride all around
362: The Big Boot Brigade
Masters of the oversized-shoe
361: The case of the missing garbage cans
Where art thou o garbage can?
360: Ramen for the soul
Japanese chicken soup
359: Revenge of the nerds Part II
Geeky guys with hot girls
358: Little old ladies
Grandmas packing a punch
357: Starbucks sanctuary
Stop the Starbucks insanity
356: Pet name problem
My sweet little... carrot?
355: Unclean Jeans
Jeans McNasty
354: My chosen profession
Lindsay Nelson's the name, English teaching's the game
352/3: Merry Christmas... sort of
Merry and not-so-Merry Christmas in Japan
351: Last temptation of rice crackers
Breaking big bills the hard way
350: Revenge of the nerds
Gaijin girls are just jealous

ISSUES 300-349
ISSUES 250-299
ISSUES 233-249