Japan is famous – or perhaps infamous – for its gamut of amazing but often unusual technology. Vending machines are perhaps one of the most well known of these, having the highest number of them per capita in the world (around one vending machine for every 23 people). As such, it’s probably no surprise that the Japanese have so many different varieties, these, of course, including some particularly strange ones. So, for your ogling pleasure, here are some of Japan’s most impressive (in what way I’ll leave up to you) vending machine specimens.
- Used panty vending machines
Sorry to disappoint, but these simply don’t exist (and, if the authorities are to be believed, actually never have). The rumour apparently started in 1993 when someone in Chiba City put used panties in an indeterminate amount of vending machines (it could have been simply one), leading to them being legally classed as second hand goods, which require a licence to sell in Japan. Additionally, one of the most infamous pictures of a used panty vending machine in fact depicts one selling new men and women’s underwear imported from America.
- Live lobster vending machine
One of the stranger examples, and also one that is actually rather cruel when you think about it (well, you don’t really need to think about it that much). Somewhat bizarrely labelled “Sub Marine Catcher”, the machine is essentially a tank filled with live lobsters that just so happens to have an arcade-style grabbing claw fitted. What you do after catching one is anyone’s guess; how do you transport the thing, anyway? Fortunately some places do offer to cook your lobster should you catch one, but it’s hardly the same as carrying a cuddly toy home.
- Tie vending machine
Great for if you’re caught short and suddenly find yourself in desperate need of a tie. However, the existence of such a machine begs a number of questions. Firstly, where would one place such a machine (railway stations and even offices are probably the prime candidates, to be fair)? Also what situation would require you to suddenly purchase a new tie? Surely you would already be wearing one if you needed it (although I suppose this doesn’t account for any unfortunate tie-related incidents).
- Fresh produce vending machines
In Japan there are many vending machines that sell produce such as fruit, vegetables and even eggs fresh from the farm. Regardless of what is being sold, their design generally features a series of doored compartments with the products inside, with customers paying and then pressing the button next to the compartment that contains what they want in order to get it. Certainly one of the more mundanely useful Japanese vending machines, although it is allegedly possible to accidentally open the door of a compartment that is already empty.
However, some things remain sacred; you still can’t get desktop computers for home from a vending machine (at least not yet).