I’ve decided to start taking photos of all the weird and wonderful vending machines I see across Japan. I wish I had thought of this idea years earlier, since I will probably never return to some places. I have seen cooking oils, beer, fruit, ice cream, heated drinks, cup noodles (and yes, the hot water is added), meals, souvenirs like key chains, clothing… It never ceases to amaze me what you can buy in vending machines. I’m also always impressed by how your chosen item comes out of the machine. One time I was at a roadside station in Nagano Prefecture. I put in my money for a café latte. Next thing I know, the TV screen on the front of the machine switches to a live video of the coffee being prepared inside. It showed the drip coffee getting filtered into the paper cup, the milk getting steamed, the sugar being added, and then the plastic lid being secured on top. It was just like I was at a café being served by a real person. So much so, I even said ‘Thank you!’ as the automatic door opened and I took my coffee that was waiting inside. Fantastic! Honestly, vending machines are one of the reasons I love Japan so much… you can literally find them ANYWHERE in this country, and you can buy almost ANYTHING from them, at ANY TIME! On top of that is all the modern technologies like TV screens, touch screens, animated displays, touch-n-go pay system. Convenience at its best.
So anyway, the first vending machine I want to show is this antique one that sells Toshiba “King Power” batteries. It has got to be one of the original vending machines in Japan, and is definitely the first one I have seen that stocks batteries! I stumbled across it a few weeks ago here in Tokyo and it inspired me to write this post. I presume it still works, although I didn’t test it out. But you can buy a range of sizes from 2 x AAA batteries for ￥100 (AUD$1), to 2 x size D batteries for ￥300 (AUD$3). It only accepts ￥100 coins, and for each coin you put in, a light above the coin slot lights up to let you know how much you have inserted, rather than the digital screen that modern machines have now. So just insert your coins, push the button for the battery you want, and voilà. Pretty cool, I say!