The history of Japanese vending machines


Ping Mag has a great write-up on the hallucinogenic consumerist scope of Japanese vending machines:

To go back a bit, the first known vending machine was a pneumatically driven holy water vending machine in an Egyptian temple in Alexandria in 215 B.C. The first Japanese machine made its dedebut over 2 millenniums later in 1890 and the oldest existing stamp vending machine from 1904 can still be seen at the Museum Meiji-Mura. Since then, the number of machines has risen to an astonishing 5,405,300, making Japan the country with the highest concentration in the world (one for every 23 people!) While half of these are standard soft drink vending machines, a surprising number of contraptions sell more unusual fare. There are 118,000 machines selling razors and socks and an impressive 5,500 issuing cans of noodles.

The much-fabled-but-never-seen used panty vending machines — which Internet legend would have us believe are ubiquitous fixtures in every Tokyo subway men's room, but which I once spent half-a-day fruitlessly hunting for — do not make an appearance, because they are imaginary vendomatic leprechauns. Sorry, huffers.

Vending Machine Extravaganza [Ping Mag]

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