Ito En — "Salon de Cafe, Black"

by David Cady

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As soon as I spotted this beauty in Chitose Funabashi station, I knew I had to buy it. It was just after nine a.m. on a Monday and the platform was thick with commuters waiting to begin their twenty-five-minute ride to Shinjuku. A lucky few sat on benches thumbing their cell phones, but most people stood in twos behind arrows indicating where the train doors will open, silent, patient and impeccably dressed. My usual "lucky" spot on the far end of the platform had been getting crowded lately, so I decided to try the opposite end that morning. While heading toward my new roost, I passed a drink machine and instinctively scanned the items on display. Mirth — yes, my feeling was one of mirth, the mirth of a richly rewarded butterfly collector — ensued when I saw a can of coffee rocking Alphonse Mucha's "Tete Bysantine Brunette" on its metallic green hide.


Art nouveau and canned coffee? Yes, of course! These Ito En people are geniuses. With avid fingers, I slipped 120 yen into the machine and pressed the button. These machines, so selfless, so loyal. The coins set off distant whirs that culminated in the satisfying plonk of the can being disgorged into what shall henceforth be referred to as the dispensing tray. A reverb-rich announcement explained that the train would be arriving shortly and advised us to stay behind the yellow line near the edge of the platform. I put the can in my backpack and strode toward the second-to-last arrow, which I have since made my new lucky spot. Sipping the coffee now, I find it to be too bitter. But I've always been a milk and sugar guy.

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