Japanese vending machines (jidoohanbaiki) became an integral part of Japanese pop culture back in 1964 during the Tokyo Olympics. They developed out of the sudden need to supply large numbers of people with a myriad of goods and a severe lack of space and staff. Over the course of the last four decades due to the decrease in available space, both the variety of goods and the number of vending machines have increased dramatically, and today there are well over 6 million machines throughout Japan.

Vending machines can be found even in the smallest of Japanese towns. They can be found singly or in clustered groups near train stations, shops, service stations or by the side of the road. Some are complex, some simple, some old, and some new, but all of them represent a whole new edge to dispensing goods through a box. They are so sophisticated that these machines compliment stores and stalls with almost an equal amount of variety concerning items for sale.

You can buy anything from health drinks, hot and cold coffee in different brands, sake, and whiskey to foodstuffs to literature to entertainment to clothing (hats, shirts, underwear) and gifts (fresh flowers and even real pearls). The machines all take coins, and also accept common notes and give change. Some even accept the highest currency of 10,000-yen notes.  These machines are rarely vandalized and the big problem is keeping them stocked and serviced.

There has been a new up and coming trend to create some really weird vending machines. Perhaps it represents a need to stand out among many others or maybe it’s just a matter of asserting artistic prerogative. You decide.

Consider the image above which is called The Thinking on the Toilet Fluorescent Skeleton. If the title doesn’t put you off, it is unlikely anything else about this vending machine will. Check out the details. The greenish skeleton is using a Japanese -style toilet while the other figure (in the lower right and gleaming red in case you missed it) is using a western style toilet.  Assorted accessories are noted in the lower portion of the picture.

Another really weird vending machine is the Geza, machine illustrated above that offers a complete set of different positions about this type of Japanese bowing, when you must knee and prostrate yourself on the ground in such a way that your head touches the ground. It would seem that if you were familiar with this custom, you wouldn’t need to buy a set of them to tell you how to do it.

But who knows?

What do YOU think about this?




M Dee Dubroff is the penname of this freelance writer and former teacher originally from Brooklyn, New York. A writer of ghostly and horror fiction, she has branched out into the world of humorous non fiction writing and maintains eight web sites covering a wide variety of topics. She also writes feature articles for several local newspapers. Her book entitled: A Taste of Funny, and her website, Eat, Drink And Really Be Merry (http://www.ingestandimbibe.com) feature many well researched and humorous articles on the subject of food and drink.