Vending machines are everywhere in Japan, despite the rapid spread of 24 hour convenience stores. Soft drinks, cigarettes, and alcohol are by far the commonest, but all kinds of products can be found.
The photo above shows half of a bank of vending machines in Miyoshi, Hiroshima that are selling eight types of rice in 10 kilo bags. An absolute lifesaver if 100 people drop by unexpectedly for a meal and the supermarket is closed.
These next 2 are my favorites, and sadly they have been removed. They were located in Gion, Kyoto, and sold a dazzling array of lingerie and underwear as well as Baby-Doll nighties, stockings, tights etc. All the items are guaranteed unused, as it is illegal in Japan to sell used panties from a vending machine. The inclusion of schoolgirl gym outfits gives a clue as to who these machines are aimed at. There are a lot of love hotels in the neighborhood, and I suspect some male customers of said hotels might sometimes on the spur of the moment decide that his companion would look good in some kind of costume.
This last one I saw outside a chicken farm in Yamaguchi Prefecture, and one hopes the fresh eggs are replaced daily, as the sun was beating down on the vending machines when I passed by.
Some people say that its strange that Japan doesnt have chocolate or candybar vending machines, but in fact they do, though not many. Mini Aero's and Kit Kat's are sold in some soft drink machines. They are in jars the same size and shape as the drink cans, so are easily missed.
Japan Gion vending panties
Wednesday, August 30, 2006