Sunday, July 30, 2006

Vending Machines

If aliens chose Tokyo as their first stop, they'd absolutely think that the planet was occupied by superior beings. They'd take one look at all the vending machines and turn right back around. No one can help but be impressed with the sheer number of machines and the unbelievable variety available here.

There are scattered all over the city, at least one on every block. In some places they are clustered in the same spot as if in a military line awaiting inspection. I read that there is 1 vending machine for every 20 people in Tokyo. Considering there is more than 12 million people in Tokyo alone, that means they've managed to squeeze more than 600,000 vending machines into an area slightly over 2,000 kmsq small. Amazing.

So what kinds are there?

Well, there is the cigarette vending machines I mentioned briefly in an earlier posting.

Then, of course, they have the ones that dispense beverages. Drinks include green tea, milk tea, chocolate milk, coffee, cafe au lait, water, soda, juice, sports drinks, energy drinks, beer, wine, whatever. But get this, they can dispense the drinks hot or cold. You can get them canned, bottled, boxed, or poured into a cup if that's what you fancy.

The list of what can be bought from these machines are exhausting. But here are the weirdest ones I've seen or heard of:

- Ready to eat foods like Instant Ramen noodles
- Uncooked bags of rice... not sure who needs to cook rice on the go
- Fresh fruits and vegetables which are restocked daily by local farmers
- Clean Underwear generally around hospitals for doctors/nurses and maybe visitors who can't get home
- Porn such as videos, books etc
- Designer condoms conveniently located between the drink and porn machines
- Used Underwear for those with that particular fetish

Alas, I must confess that I have let my readers down in not locating the Used Underwear machine. Along with my partner in crime, I scoured the grime of Tokyo in search of it with no success. But we haven't given up cause we've been reassured that it does exist.

Now I'm thirsty. Gonna grab a drink from the vending machine outside my building. Want anything?

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