Monday, 3 December 2012

Vending Machines

Japan is well known for its vending machines - drink machines can be found on every street corner and out in what seems to be the middle of nowhere by the edge of a rice field. The norm is drink machines, with heated cans or bottles replacing a row or two of the regular chilled drinks during the colder months. Drinks can vary from sodas, juices, green tea, coffee, and milky black tea to beer, sake, corn soup, or even red bean soup.

Some stations have newspaper vending machines and recently I've seen more snack machines - selling chocolate bars and bright yellow boxes of "Calorie Mate." Parking areas or service areas on the highways have vending machines that will (supposedly) heat up a box of french fries or tako-yaki, and others that will make you a fresh cup of coffee - right from grinding the beans - and show you the whole process in real-time via an internal camera.

Then while shopping the other day I saw a new kind of vending machine... a Proactive face wash machine! It was huge - easily the size of three regular drink vending machines across, and appeared well-stocked.


But I still think my favourite vending machine has to be one that I heard about listening to my favourite news podcast, CBC's As it Happens, the Bibliomat, a home-made vending machine that dispenses used books at the Monkey's Paw second-hand bookstore in Toronto!

16 comments:

  1. When I read "face wash machine", I thought, "It's a machine that washes your face?! Like a car wash?!"

    That's what happens when you wake up at three and jump on the internet to check whether pesky questions about Mrs Akiyama have been answered. (THANKS!) I haven't had coffee yet - this is a bit early even for me - so the head's not functioning yet.

    Have you seen the used-book vending machines in Tokyo? There is (was?) one at Ikebukuro Station. I found this link.

    PS: Monkey's Paw looks very lekker!

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    1. A vending machine that washes your face... Sounds disturbing, although they have machines that do just about everything else...

      A book vending machine at Ikebukuro station?!? I will HAVE to go and check it out! Orate convince you to come adventuring with me... Did Iemtioned I know of an umeshu place in Ikebukuro? ;)

      PS - I'd love to check out the Monkey's Paw, and now you have another place to add to your to visit in Canada list!

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    2. OK, let's go hunt us some books! Who knows what is possible with proper fortification! ^^ If we can't find that vending machine, there's always Junkudo ...

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    3. Wheeeee! Book shopping here we coooooome! :D

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    4. Details to be discussed over umeshu. ^^

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    5. I think we had too much umeshu and too much fun to be discussing details! We'll have to meet without so much distraction next time! ;)

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  2. I would love a used book vending machine! That is awesome!

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    1. According to the AIH interview (do you listen to any of the CBC podcasts?) you aren't the only one! The bookstore owner / machine designer said he had hundreds of orders from around the world!

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  3. Love the vending machine culture here. There is a banana vending machine at Tokyo Station. Just outside the Marunouchi Line entrance. 100 yen a banana by Dole, I think. Pretty expensive.

    I also remember seeing umbrella machines, and there is a canned bread machine in Akihabara Station. Then there is oden, udon,soba, all in a can machines.

    Do gachapon machines count as a vending machine?

    For hot food, I remember my ferry trip to Shikoku where I lived off of am/pm vending machines. They had frozen dishes that were nuked for you within a couple minutes.

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    1. A banana vending machine?!? Seriously? That is hilarious!

      I remember the Oden and canned bread machines at Akiba, I used to transfer there and always eyed the machine suspiciously, never gaining the courage to actually try anything...

      The AM/PM machine sounds like a better version of one we tried at a parking area - the fries were still frozen in the very middle although the edge bits were hot and crispy! Ugh ugh ugh!!

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    2. The AM/PM one was okay. Cooked things well enough, but it was still frozen food. With nothing better to do, you just experiment and try everything when you are on a ferry.

      I haven't tried the exotic foods yet either.

      Yes, a banana vending machine. I also remember seeing an apple slices machine this year. Saw a friend put a picture on Facebook that reminded me of it yesterday.

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    3. Canned bread?! (@_@) Oh, the horror, the horror.

      Talking about bananas, why is Tokyo Banana regarded as typical Tokyo omiyage? What's a banana got to do with Tokyo?!

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    4. Yup, Canned bread. When I leave Japan, I'll probably have to buy a can to see what it's like.

      I know. What's up with Tokyo Banana. Also, Tokyo Rusk. They are all good though. Maybe they just steal a lot from Kanagawa because I'm now thinking of Hato Sabure and the Han-tsuki stuff.

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    5. Tokyo Rusk? I had to Google that. When I think of rusks, I think of chunky stuff that's dunked in tea or coffee; not dainty chocolate-covered cookies. South Africans refer to rusks as "beskuit", and for us it's mostly breakfast food. Link here.

      Ooo. Hungry. Homesick! Suddenly. :(

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  4. Two ideas on Tokyo banana:

    1) it was chosen by someone in Tokyo and is supposed to symbolize that Tokyo is paradise!
    2) it was chosen by someone OUTSIDE of Tokyo and is supposed to symbolize that anybody is BANANAS to live here...

    Take your pick! ;)

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    1. Now that? That is a perfect response! :D

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