Japan is the land of the vending machine. You are hard pressed to find a 100 meter stretch of any built-up part of Japan (500m, perhaps, in the countryside) lacking a machine offering you something to buy.
The vast majority of vending machines in Japan are for canned or, less commonly, bottled, drinks, hot and cold - soft drinks and alcohol. However, a significant proportion of them offer other goods, too, mainly food, but also cigarettes, and other much whackier stuff. Some of them even sing!
I came across a vending machine, however, that offered the written word: a newspaper vending machine. Something of a rarity, but perhaps in this age of electronic media it is an apt response to the threat of the LCD screen than newspapers are facing.
This machine, cutely named “News-kun” (“kun” being an affectionate suffix added to a boy’s name), sells, from the top, the Tokyo Shimbun (shimbun meaning “newspaper”, beginning in 1884 as the Konnnichi Shimbun) for 100 yen, the Tokyo Chunichi Sports (published by the same company as the Tokyo Shimbun) for 120 yen, the Tokyo Yukan (i.e. Tokyo evening newspaper) for 40 yen, the Tokyo Sports for 130 yen, the Nikkan Gendai (a tabloid known for its harsh criticism of among others, Koreans, the Soka Gakkai, and the Liberal Democratic Party) for 130 yen.
Helpfully, the machine shows the date at the top. For some reason, the 500 yen slot has been taped over, but it still takes 100, 50, and 10 yen coins. Like all vending machines in Japan, it gives change.
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Tuesday, May 18, 2010