Archive for April 27, 2007

In Japan, Vending Machines = Life

To understand why vending machines are so popular in Japan, imagine a rectangular compartment on your street corner that provides everything you could possibly need in an average day.

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Fancy some farm-fresh eggs for breakfast? There’s a vending machine for that. Would you like a creamy, steaming café latte to go with your eggs? There’s a vending machine for that, too.

Is it raining out? Just look for a vending machine stocked with umbrellas. Trust me, they’re out there.

Got a taste for hot ramen noodles, oden in a can, microwaved popcorn, dumplings or French fries? Buy lunch for the whole family at the vending machine; it’s always prepared to-go.

Got a hot date this evening? Don’t forget to stop by a vending machine kiosk, where you can pick up flowers, liquor and condoms.

Rather spend the evening alone? Head on over to the friendly porn machine — the blinds covering those products only lift up at night — filled with adult magazines and DVDs. (Anonymity can be good sometimes!)

You’ll also find vending machines that sell toys for kids, sticker photos, disposable cameras, batteries, toilet paper, and name cards. I’ll never forget enjoying a pint of Haagen-Dazs green tea ice cream (sadly, not available in the States) from a vending machine outside the beautiful Golden Pavilion in Kyoto.

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Even if you go into cardiac arrest, there is a vending machine for you. Since last August, 170 machines contaminating AED (Automated External Defibrillators) have popped up in the land of the rising sun. Daniel Craig’s 007 would be pleased.

vending machines in Japan are open 24/7, every day of the year. They won’t look at you askance or judge you for your purchases, and they’re especially convenient for citizens of a cash-based society. The Japan Times reports there are 5.51 million machines in Japan, raking in a total of nearly 7 trillion yen (around $58 billion) per year.

The products aren’t necessarily the cheapest, however, so if price is your main concern, you’re better off heading inside a store and interacting with a real-life clerk.

Still, after running around the city and hanging out at different vending machines all day, you’ll probably need an energy drink to keep going. Oh, look! There’s a vending machine for that!

Sarah S.

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April 27, 2007 at 3:25 pm 5 comments


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