Sounds like fun except for being sick.
What is the most unusual vending machine item you've seen? I hear they put almost anything/everything in vending machines there.
Most vending machines are just water/tea/coffee drinks. I do find it interesting that a lot of the soft drinks are made by the big brewery and distilling companies (Kirin, Suntory, etc). I am pretty sure if AB-Inbev tried to sell soft drinks in the US someone would claim they were trying to lock kids into their brand or something.
I have seen beer and pornography in vending machines. No panties yet (that is the thing that sticks out in my mind as a weird vending machine item I had heard about in the past). One cool thing is that the vending machines in the train stations let you pay with your train card.
I did see a woman with a ferret in her purse last night...
So I went back to Popeyes. I was just there for a bit the other night and sat by an American. Last night there were zero Americans or Europeans other than me. I lucked out and sat by a guy that speaks pretty good English. I am pretty impressed by the beer geek culture in Japan. Lots of young women were drinking stuff like Rogue Yellow Snow IPA (I saw more women drink IPA last night than I do in a typical month at home, not counting my wife). People mostly do not order the same beer twice. The craft beers are generally very good. I don't think I have had a bad one yet and I have had several great ones. They definitely like hops and a lot of their beers are in the West Coast (US) style.
There is an English beer bar and a few Belgian beer bars that I might try but given how close it is and that it is the consensus best place in Japan I will go to Popeyes a lot. It also helps that the food is cheap. Before 8:00 PM you can get a free half plate of one of eight items if you buy a beer that has a crown by it on the menu (about a quarter of the menu, so 18 beers or so). Food is generally very expensive in Tokyo and I am on per diem so getting by cheap at Popeye's one night allows me to go for something higher end the next.
I talked to a few people who have been travelling on business to the US for decades and recall beer in the US being crap other than Anchor, Sam Adams and Sierra Nevada. I got a kick out of the idea of Japanese business men looking for a bar that had Anchor Steam in 1980. They said there used to be tons of breweries in Japan before WWII and then it was all Sapporo/Kirin/Asahi/Suntory until about 10 years ago. So very similar patter to what happened in the US with prohibition.
My favorite beer so far is a 2007 Hurricane Barley Wine that Popeyes had on draught. It was Madeira like, lots of dark fruit, huge silky body. Some of the online reviews mention hot/solvent but I thought the alcohol was well hidden for 15%. It was definitely warming but not solventy or harsh. Maybe the 4 years did it some good.
My second favorite is the Baird Divine Vamp III India Black Ale which I have had on both visits. I think I like it better than any "black IPA" I have had in the States. They have been making this for years (at least since 2006) so I guess we have to start calling black IPA Japanese Dark Ale. The Cascadians will be so disappointed.