This is not an unusual sight in Japan. Many restaurant chains and small joints use these machines to save on labor costs and to streamline the ordering process.
Don’t be fooled by the look of the machine, many good affordable restaurants use those. If you are lucky they will have a fancy display with pictures. Making a choice will be easy.
If you are less lucky, everything will be written in Kanji without photos. Don’t be discouraged, I’ve often been in this situation as well. Adopting a puzzled expression on your face is a good solution. More often than not, a staff will come and help you choose with whatever English they know. Not only your getting great food but some original human interaction, perhaps with the cook himself.
As for the technicalities: simply insert some bills in the machine and push any button you like. Paper receipts will come out for each item, you should bring those to the table of your choice where a staff will come acknowledge your order. FYI beer is spelled like ビール.
Finding a good train route or schedule in Japan can sometimes be tricky, but with the right tool it can become much easier. Of course, google map can do it, but its interface can be sometimes complicated to use while in a rush.
That is where Jorudan becomes handy. With its clean interface that is easy to use on any smartphone, one quickly understands why it is a popular choice among the Japanese. Whether you need to take metro in Tokyo, local trains in the countryside or move rapidly across the country with the Shinkansen, Jorudan has all the info necessary, and will provide a route with transit time as smooth as it can be.
Picnics under the cherry blossoms (o-hanami) are an important part of Japanese culture. So important that the Japanese meteorological office produces a forecast of cherry-blossom season every year!
The 2014 cherry blossom season will start in less than one month. To better synchronize your visit of Japan to the famous blooming tree, please consult either of those two official websites: Continue reading Cherry blossom forecast 2014
It is not so easy to find a good application that will allow the use of offline GPS maps in Japan, especially since it can be hard to get access to any WiFi or telephone network when travelling and therefore make Google Maps inconvenient. From browsing the internet, I found the Maps with Me application that works on my Nexus 7 tablet Continue reading GPS maps of Japan for Android phone and tablet