Thursday, December 27, 2012

Will Miss #7 - weird vending machines (reflection)

I didn't buy any of this, but I'm guessing it feels wet. (This machine was stocked a few months after the March 11, 2011 earthquake, when people were terrified of drinking tap water but the bottled water shortage had eased off.)

Japan is known the world over for its copious and odd vending machines. The neighborhood that I lived in in Japan, Asagaya, at one point had a vending machine full of marital aids including fake vulvas. That was quite awhile back, before I had a digital camera, and I sincerely wish I'd taken a picture of it when it was around. It was absolutely on the fringe of weirdness, and that's saying something for a country that sells bread in a can and condoms in street accessible vending machines.

There are vending machines here at home, of course. They are huge monolithic and sleek drink machines as well as beat up and vandalized newspaper ones. Other than that, it's a bit of a wasteland and what little there is, is far less interesting and variable than what I saw in Tokyo. 

I truly do miss the weird vending machines, but I actually miss even the more mundane ones like the drink machines which carried a greater variety of beverages and rotated out the options much more frequently than those I have seen here. 


  1. I have only seen one vending machine with odd items in it, but it was in a bar. I am actually pretty bummed at the sad selection that are available in vending machines, usually 4 flavors of soda, water, and a sweetened tea. I usually carry something with me to drink because the only option I would really go for is the water but I can get water free anywhere since I use a filtered, re-usable bottle.

  2. The selection definitely leaves something to be desired. I didn't actually buy much from vending machines in Japan, though I did at times in a pinch, but I still liked looking at them, and, as my pictures have shown, was amused by many of them!

    Thanks for your comment!

  3. I don't miss the weird and wacky machines but I do miss the weird and wacky (odd)locations you sometimes found them in.

    And your point about greater variety and changeover was really good.

    Check YouTube and search under "Begin Japanology:Vending Machines" to see a good program about the history of the machines and the future of them.

  4. In addition to the selection, Japanese machines are better in so many other ways. Some examples:

    -You can put in a 500-yen coin and make several selections before it gives you change (American machines always spit out change after the first selection).

    -Many of them let you get your drinks hot or cold.

    -Many of them have a cup to dump your change into, instead of inserting each coin one by one.

    This is simple stuff that American drink machines really should offer, but they don't.

    Speaking of selection: the breakroom at my office has two drink machines and one snack machine. In 14 years, the selection hasn't changed once. The exact same candy bars and chips every single day. Ugh.


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