I don’t know about you, but when I find myself here in Japan where I have somehow been for the last three years, and I am desperately scanning the shelves for a drink, oh god anything will do. That’s why I naturally gravitate toward the bottles of stinkwater that have free toys latched onto the tops. This method has ensured the adorning of my various man bags, murses, European carry-alls, bropouches, and fanny packs with a variety of mind-numbing baubles running the gamut from tiny rubber sushi to a bear dressed like a chef to the plastic likeness of a brown-suited salaryman literally on his hands and knees begging for forgiveness.
Yes, some six months on, as the best-selling Super Mario 3D Land begins to inevitably decline at the marketplace, Nintendo has chosen to team up with Japanese beverage company ITO EN to light up our lives with a series of keychains themed after the game. There are two series, one in red packaging and one in yellow, both containing the same six identical characters, but one series has a small star coin and another has a leaf power-up. In the following photo you can see two of the possibilities, a Koopa Troopa and a raccoon-tail Goomba. The other four are Mario, Tanuki statue Mario, Fox Luigi, and Toad.
The drinks retail for an average of about 140 yen, a small price to pay for expressing yourself by way of brandishing a keychain. I bought two bottles of barley tea and sipped at them gingerly while pretending I was a dog farmer preparing for the annual harvest. The Goomba stared at me as I felt the tea swishing in my mouth, its cold plastic eyes penetrating my soul.