There’s a game I play at Japanese bodegas that always ends with some sort of interesting discovery. I call it drink (or snack) lottery. This is where one picks a random drink from the local 7-11, mini-stop, daily, lawson or whatever store is three steps away on the street you happen to be on. Or, if you’re stranded in a land with no bodega, you can choose from those that sit awaiting selection in the ubiquitous drink machines of Japan.
Some drinks offer clues as to what they are, like helpful pictures of fruit or clear bottles revealing the drink’s color. Since I’ve learned to read, the mystery has dissolved a bit, but only a slight bit. One would still have trouble making sense of “Pocari Sweat” or “Corn Soup” or “Apple Jelly” if one has not played the lottery for long. But I am a veteran, and can testify to what these items are. Pocari Sweat is a gatorade-type beverage (as far as I can tell, I’ve never tried it because I hate Gatorade, and besides, who wants to drink sweat?). Corn Soup is, indeed, corn soup in a can. And Apple Jelly is a liquified melted-jello, bubble-tea-wannabe type drink that I wouldn’t recommend to any adult past twinkie-loving age. It’s way too sweet, and I’m betting that the texture would gross out most Westerners anyway.
Yesterday’s winner of the lottery was Oronamin C Drink, and it won because of the curiosity of the hubby. He was inspired by the ads at our local bus stops. It occurred to us that one can determine you’ve been in a country long enough when their advertising begins to affect your purchasing choices, even when you can’t quite read the ad. Not a bad winner, it tasted just like Sprite and was bright yellow. I am suspicious that it is an energy drink, but who knows? That’s the whole point of the lottery, to indulge in a game of mystery and the adventure of not knowing. So pick one, take a swig, and ponder what you’ve tasted! Kanpai!