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With Pokemon, Aibo, and the emergence of J-Pop, Americans are finally beginning to shake that fixed stereotype of the "uncreative" Japanese from their eager wallets. Sick of the same old entertainment, we are are opening up to new ideas but with nearly 60 million Americans considered technically obese, it might be time for us to loosen up to another aspect of Japanese creativity-food. Namely, fast food.

Walk into any convenience store, or burger joint in North America and you're faced with only one choice, high fat content and even higher calories. Those same places in Japan however, offer fresh salads of all varieties, soba, and even sushi. Mos Burger, a popular fast food chain, offers the usual cheeseburgers, fries, and fried chicken, but most of their menu consists of healthy alternatives, including burgers with buns made of rice and stuffed with chicken, burdock and mushrooms.

Or how about Japanese Rice Dog which offers a healthy alternative to that fourth of July favorite, a dog wrapped in rice and made of chicken or shrimp, served with pickles and a glass of ice cold green tea.

At the fast food restaurant Morinaga Love, you can chow down on salmon burgers and miso soup. Worried about dessert? No problem, a baked yam should satisfy your sweet tooth without clogging your arteries. These are just a few examples of how Japan has tailored it's fast food to the country's busy population without sacrificing nutritional value.

Convenience stores waste no creativity either. They serve bentos of every variety, sandwiches, and a line of hum bow filled with everything from green Thai curry to chocolate filling. Most dishes have the calories marked studiously on the package for the diet concious and the food is replaced on almost an hourly basis.

To the contrary, popular hubs such as McDonalds and Burger King have made little effort to do as the Romans do. In fact, McDonalds serves sandwiches in Japan seemingly intended only for the likes of Alfred Hitchcock or Henry the Eighth. With double cheeseburgers topped with fried eggs, slabs of bacon, and generous dabs of mayonnaise, or fried and battered macaroni between two sesame seed buns, McDonalds seems well on it's way to making up the caloric difference between the U.S. and Japan. Diabetes is on the rise among Japanese youth. Let's hope those healthy alternatives aren't beaten out by American chains and instead thrive enough to make it to our shores.