Care for a smoke?
In Japan vending machines which sell cigarettes are quite common. One's which sell bear up to a pint are also common. Whereas in America the cigarette market has been cracked down on the government and health food administration, in most Asian countries including Japan, the cigarette enterprises are sponsored by the government. This is to ensure soldiers, self defense army, and the like all have a ready supply of smokes when they get that nervous itch.
I'm afraid that the cigarettes are a lot cheaper than in the U.S. too. If you look at the price the Marlboro cigarettes (the most expensive brand in the machine), one pack only cost 300￥ (yen) which is the equivelant to about $2.70 in America. Last I checked American cigarettes were near four dollars per pack, with tabaco taxes soaring high.
The Good the Bad and the Ugly.
The good thing about cheap cigarettes in Japan, people can smoke if they want without feeling too much of a financial burden placed upon their wallets, however, the BAD is that most Japanese don't know how to deal with stress and nearly 87% of the population smokes. Many start in middle school! Think of a group of 8th graders smoking regularly without a care in the world because it's a culturally accepted way to deal with stress. Another BAD is that ever restaraunt allows smoking, and often time the non-smokers end up hacking (half-to death) or losing their appetites when the lightly flavored Japanese food all begins to taste like ash. Only Mos Burger has created a seperate enclosed "smoking" section, and I commend the fast food chain for making a bold move where others fear to lose customers. Another BAD is that Japanese don't have an smoking ediquette and will blow smoke directly in your face when they pass you on the street. The first time this happened I almost kicked the persons ass up and down the street, but once I realized they were all like that I learned to give them a quick cold glance of -want to die now? The return glance is either one of not carrying or total ignorance, but if there is one thing in this culture that would set me off to relieve some of my own stress, it would be to shove an entire pack of lit smokes down someone's throat and have them recite me 100 times that they will never blow smoke in people's faces again.
The UGLY... people who have never smoked in their entie lives, like Sayaka's mother, became adicted to cigarettes just a little over two years ago when she started a new company job. With lots of weary hours and high stress of having to perform at the company and come home and be the go to mom, this mother started smoking at 48 years old. Now if that sounds wrong to you too, then that makes two of us. Her teeth are already like six different multi-colored browns, she has more stress than before (so the cancer sticks she sucks back apparently had no effect on the stress levels) and she smokes now even at the most relaxing calm and sanquine moments. The oral fixation and addiction is so great, that everyone seems to be smoking here. I find it probably the greatest inconvenience about being in Japan, espescially with all the enclosed and tight spaces which leave little or no room for that type of habbit among those who despise it or who are serious about quiting.
Americans take for granted how lucky they are to have a health administration which knows the harmful effects of cigarettes (cancer sticks). I don't mind smoking a cigar now and then, but sometimes it's nice to breath natures fresh air without hacking and coughing a lung up, or having to hear someone else do the same. If you enjoy smoking, it would be better to do it outside then inside a tightly packed izakaya (small confined Japanese traditional returaunt). Until you've been in a room no bigger than a closet on a bench or sitting on the floor with seven or eight other people who are all smoking, then I beg you to think twice before smoking in confined places. It's just not a good idea.