Walking and the pedestrian environment
May 6, 2006
Vending Machines (Tokyo)

A small sampling of slightly abnormal vending machines in Tokyo.

I'm amazed that every visitor to Japan has seen a used-panty vending machine. No matter how hard I look, I can't find one! Probably I'm hanging out in the wrong (right) neighborhoods.

There are plenty of non-sociopathic abnormal vending machines, if you keep your eyes open.

100 yen vending machineSoft drink vending machines are everywhere in Japan, a fact that is well documented. The going rate these days is 120 yen for a small can of coffee, tea, juice, or carbonated beverage, and 150 yen for a larger bottle of sports drink, water, or other beverage. Surprisingly if you look around a bit you can find a 100 yen machine. My non-empirical study shows that 1 out of every 50 or so is 100 yen. Ten years ago the switch was made from 100 to 110 yen, and 100 yen machines were left around as bait. After the switch to 120 yen, there are almost no 110 machines, but you still see 100 yen machines. You can even find machines where everything - even the bottles - are 100 yen! God I can't wait to see a mashup map of 100 yen vending machines. The day is coming.

Drink and food vending machineEven more rare is a soft drink machine with snacks for sale as well!

Drink dispensorThis one's pretty old school. It poors your drink into a little cup, and takes about 20 seconds to complete. Last time I saw one of these was in Seattle's King Street Station, which is about to undergo its first renovation in 40 years.

Battery vending machineHere's a machine left over from a past era - a battery vending machine. It no longer sells batteries. It's outside a National (Panasonic) repair shop.

Rice vending machineAnother out-of-date machine. This one sells rice. It looks like it was bought second hand at some point, and repurposed by this small, family-owned business to sell brown rice. I wonder what other old machines can be found if you look hard enough? Ten years ago there were beer vending machines everywhere, but now you don't see them at all. Well, I think they still have them at hotels and other private places, but not out in public where kids might use them.

Parking vending machineThis isn't actually so rare, but I thought I'd throw it in. Parking vending machine.

Condom vending machineHere's a rarity, a condom vending machine. I'm sure they're in night club bathrooms and such just like in Seattle. But this one's just right out on the street. And it's not even near a love hotel district or hostess club den. Just a sign of an active, virile neighborhood.

Posted by Rob Ketcherside at May 6, 2006 11:36 PM
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