The Strange World of Japanese Vending Machines

Most urban dwellers are used to the sight of vending machines on their streets and have become accustomed to buying drinks, newspapers and cigarettes from them. However, in Japan, this form of selling has been taken to its, possibly illogical extreme. Take a look in to the strange world of the Japanese vending machine.

Shibuya station near Tokyo is hi-tech. So hi-tech, that instead of having to find a vending machine to quench your thirst, the vending machine finds you! Even the Japanese school girls in this picture look a little surprised though, so we can only imagine that it is not too common a site in Japan!

Who needs people to sell vegetables when a machine will do just as well? Here a variety of green things are on sale to those who wish to purchase. To many people in the rest of the world this would seem like quite an odd idea - those who like to have a good squeeze of their veggies before buying them would have to break the glass first.

Eggs from a machine? Fortunately for the buyer, once the coins are inserted you are able to open the door and retrieve your eggs. How, though, do the next eggs arrive in their place? Whirr, crack, whirr, crack!

The design museum at Ueno just couldn't get the staff to dispense its souvenirs, so it installed a few machines instead. This one allows you to purchase small busts of famous philosophers discreetly and without letting the world know that you are a complete and utter Plato-head.

You can never get an ice cream when you want one in Europe. No such problem in Japan where you get a vending machine that will deliver your ice cream fix to you without any need for human contact.

As well as the plethora of smaller vending machines, the Japanese, renowned for miniaturizing electronic items, took a leaf out of America's book for one or two things! Some vending machines literally tower over those who wish to make a small purchase. One can only keep fingers crossed and hope for an earthquake free minute while standing in front of one of these!

After a hard day at the office, there is often the urgent need for a drink. A strong drink. However, what happens when there is no time to go to the local bar? Why, just drop your yen in to this machine, and you will get a bottle of an extremely strong sake in return. Perhaps the youth of Japan are to be more trusted than that of other nations. If this was placed in the UK, it would be emptied by hordes of under-aged drinkers in no time at all. Now, that gives me an idea...

You may not want sake - it could be a little too much for that early evening tipple. So, you can choose from a huge variety of beer and alcohol instead. Yes, incredulous western readers, this is out on the streets and civilization has not come to an end! Homer Simpson would love Japan!

That very same evening, the weather turns horrible, and you realize that you have left your umbrella at home! In most places there would be no option - just get wet on your way back home. In Japan, head for the vending machines! Here, even umbrellas can be purchased from static ‘shops' with no shopkeepers! No more rain-soaked journeys, then!

You may also get a ladder in your pantyhose. Well, help is not far away in urban Japan. This machine would have gone from brilliant to amazing, amazing had it also offered a range of clean underwear. We can't have everything, though!

If you are peckish and want something hot and substantial to eat than there is no faster food in the world than that which can be found in Japan. Not only that, the noodles are endorsed by aliens! Yay! Some great flavors too... the beef and shrimp sounds particularly appetizing!

If you don't fancy noodles, then you can always go for something a little more occidental. A hot dog and fries, anyone? It looks, too, as if you can choose between your fries lightly done and crispy. There are a variety of meals here which look distinctly odd, however. Perhaps those pesky aliens are at work here, too!

It is so annoying when you run out of food for your prize carp. Fortunately in Japan there is help at hand. A few coins and you don't have to make that special trip to the pet shop! Honestly, however, this is from a botanical garden where people can buy the food to feed the denizens of the ponds.

Finally, if you are a gentleman whose reading habits veers towards the naughty, then you are never too far away from your next porno fix. Whether it is "Deep Kiss" that takes your fancy or another of the myriad of titles available, you can rest assured you can find it in a vending machine somewhere in Japan.

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