By Louis Wai
Hawai‘i Herald Columnist

Vending machine mania. So, take out a piece of paper and make a list of all the items that you think you can buy from a vending machine. Remember now, this is Japan, the vending machine capital of the world.

OK, so, coffee, yes. Cigarettes, yes. Candy, yes. Ice cream, yes. Eggs . . . Eggs?! Yes! Even fresh chicken. Chicken?!

In Nanjo, southern Okinawa, you can purchase different kinds of eggs and chicken from a refrigerated vending machine. The eggs and chicken are both uncooked. These machines are on the roadside, so you simply drive up, deposit your money, a window opens and . . . voila, fresh eggs and/or fresh chicken!

The egg hatching machine. Photo by Louis Wai.
The egg hatching machine. Photo by Louis Wai.

I don’t know who refills the machine, but there is a structure behind the machine that looks like it might be part of a farm. My best guess is there must be some kind of store that sells both eggs and fresh chicken and would have the license to sell with attendant safety regulations.

Fifty innings and still going strong! Photo by Louis Wai.
Fifty innings and still going strong! Photo by Louis Wai.

Only-in-Japan-style-baseball. Here’s another only-in-Japan story. Have you ever heard of a baseball game lasting 50 innings? Only in Japan! This was a high school game between Chukyo from Gifu Prefecture and Sotoku from Hiroshima ken — it was being played in Hyögo Prefecture using a hard rubber baseball (restricted flight). The game took four days to complete and the score was 0-0 until Chukyo scored three runs in the last inning to win, 3-0. Both teams’ pitchers threw the entire 50 innings and by the end of the 45th inning had thrown a combined 1,252 pitches.

Check out the scoreboard. Photo by Louis Wai.
Check out the scoreboard. Photo by Louis Wai.

This was the semifinal game, so the winning pitcher also pitched in the championship game that followed — and on the same day, winning the championship game, as well! The winning and only pitcher threw a total of 1,047 pitches during the tournament. I’m guessing that the players probably preferred that the innings were played over four days; otherwise, they would have had to practice longer.

Right-turn nightmare. I’ve written on many occasions about the driving habits of people here. From my personal experiences, there are basically two types of drivers — those who are aware of what’s happening around them, and those who are totally clueless. Generally speaking, most drivers are cautious and attentive. But an incident the other day shocked me.

Imagine a T-shaped intersection with a car leaving the side road and wanting to turn right (remember that a right turn here is like a left turn in America). As it edged into the main road, a van coming from the car’s left that wanted to turn right into the side road went around the car exiting the same side road. The driver of the van actually made a question mark loop in front of the car in order to turn into the side road. The van probably saved about a half-second by going around the car, instead of being considerate and letting the exiting car go first. What made this incident even more horrifying and dangerous was that the van was carrying preschool children! Still, this kind of driving is rare here. If it had happened in Hawai‘i, what do you think? Road rage?

My break-easy over-easy. You can buy fresh eggs here — and I mean really fresh, like the day they’re laid. I love my eggs over-easy. The downside to frying a really fresh egg is that the yolk membrane that keeps the yolk intact is very tender, so the yolk almost always breaks when I try to turn over the egg. I’ve tried different spatulas, tilting the frying pan, over-cooking and under-cooking the egg, but I still break about half the yolks because the eggs are so fresh. So what do you call an unscrambled cooked egg whose yolk breaks, but is not mixed with the whites? Answer: Simply broken.

Okinawan word of the week: Kuga, meaning egg; in Japanese, it is tamago. And here’s a bonus word: tui, which means chicken, or bird, in Uchinaaguchi; in Japanese, it is tori, as in yakitori.

Louis Wai was born and raised in Hawai‘i. He practiced law in Honolulu for many years before earning a master’s degree in English as a Second Language in 2008. He moved to Okinawa in 2010 and now teaches English to various groups and individuals.



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