Alright, those ubiquitous vending machines which seemed to occupy just about every street corner in Japan plied me with a lot of interesting drinks. During those 17 blazing-hot summers I spent in the Kanto, I got to know the international brands of Fanta and Coke and Canada Dry but there was also Suntory's oolong tea and milk tea, and the amazing Calpis. Then there were the isotonic drinks best represented by Pocari Sweat. If you've drunk Gatorade, you will know what I mean by isotonic drinks. My initial assessment of the blue-and-white Pocari Sweat was that it actually tasted like sweat, albeit cold and sweet sweat.
As you can imagine, it didn't leave a great first impression but over the years, I came to appreciate it and its rival in the market, Aquarius. In fact, not only did I invest my coins into the vending machines to actually get a can of Pocari but I even went to the trouble of bringing it home with me once in a while. It grew on me instead of exude from me. Hey, when I was battling 35-degree-plus temperatures with 80% humidity on a daily basis and losing tons of electrolytes and midi-chlorians through my pores, I was more than happy to gush anything isotonic down my throat.
Pocari Sweat held a good place within the Japanese market. And it didn't suffer from bad press, either, thanks to commercials like the above. I used to first see these TV ads for the product on some of the video tapes I got from friends or rented out. They starred the It Girl from the early 90s, actress Sae Isshiki（一色紗英）, who when I looked at her again in one scene had a passing resemblance to actress Haruka Ayase（綾瀬はるか）who co-hosted last year's Kohaku Utagassen (and who also had her chance to shine as a Pocari Sweat girl.
Thanks to those ads, I often equated Pocari Sweat with summer. What also boosted that opinion was the very summery song provided by singer-songwriter Tetsuro Oda（織田哲郎）, "Itsumademo Kawaranu Ai wo" (A Neverending Unchanging Love). It was almost Pavlovian how this commercial tune made me at least envision that blue-and-white can in my brain. I can see how the band TUBE got its mojo from Oda's creations. With that saxophone and sunny arrangement, winter is almost immediately forgotten, replaced by sand and surf.
As of this point, "Itsumademo Kawaranu Ai wo" is Oda's lone No. 1 single when it was released as his 12th single in March 1992. It ended the year ranked at No. 15.
Weatherwise, we reached a high of 11 degrees Celsius. Not too bad for February here. Just another 4 months and 14 degrees to go.