VENDING MACHINES. WHO doesn’t love them? And the undisputed world champion of the vending machine is Japan, where you can buy pretty much anything with the drop of a coin or mobile payment. But whilst you can buy anything from iPods to marijuana to umbrellas, can you actually survive without buying from another human being?
That’s what reporter Tom Edwards wanted to find out, so he set out with two friends to spend 24 hours buying anything they needed from vending machines.
What won’t surprise you is that the challenge wasn’t really a challenge. If you want something in Japan, you can get it from a vending machine. What is interesting is the breadth of choice, and some of the gimmicks.
Sure, you can buy cheesecake, ice-cream, miso soup and the horrifying-sounding cheese curry, but you can also buy gold (real gold) and even a hotel room for the night.
Favorite machine is selling beverages, where it uses a camera to take a picture of you, combines it with temperature, perceived age and time of the day to suggest a drink for you.
Perhaps the best part of this entire escapade is a little bit of trivia Tom learned from Takashi Kurosaki, the boss of the Japan Vending Machine Manufacturers Association.
He explains that vending machines in Japan took of in 1967, when expensive ¥100 coins using silver alloy were replaced with a new alloy of 75% copper and 25% nickel. This meant there were a lot more ¥100 coins around, and vending machines switched to allowing ¥100 coins instead of requiring multiple ¥10 coins. This made them a lot more convenient.
Lastly, there was one essential thing Tom and team couldn’t find in a machine: Beer. This final point surely marks the whole endeavor as a failure.