In Japan, vending machines started to appear in 1950s with drink machines, and then really began to take off in the following decades. Today, Japan has the highest per capita rate of vending machines in the world (the US, however, has a high number of machines, most of which are soda heavy), with the vast majority still being drink machines.
Over the years, it seems like people have put almost everything imaginable in vending machines, especially in the years before convenience stores really took off in the country and starting appearing on nearly every corner.
Yet, vending machines, like the country's unmanned vegetable and fruit stands, do still serve a very useful purpose, especially in rural areas: round-the-clock retail.
Here's a round up of some of Japan's more unusual vending machines.
Traditional Japanese seals ("hanko" or 判子).
Amulets at a Buddhist temple
Cup noodles... with foreigner kids
Flowers, how lovely!
Local sake in glass cups
Rusted batteries in a very old, rusted vending machine
PC glasses for kids
More sake (plus beer)
I love sports games
Toy cars and tanks. Yes, tanks!
Udon and soba noodles
Second-hand mobile phones
Yakiniku (焼肉 or "grilled meat") sauce
Here's a boring vending machine in an exciting place: Mt Fuji
In case you missed it, here's a tour of vending machine hell.
変な自販機や懐かしい自販機 [まおか] はんこ [東海道の文具のブログ] 「さわやか」と書いてあるけどあまり爽やかじゃなくてむしろジャングルぽい自動販売機 [ネタフル] 個人的に笑った･心に残ったツイート [まとめ] 某所にて [ディープダンジョンかづの] 秩父宮ラグビー場ロッカールーム公開 [スポーツ] メガネとしては国内初！ [もちあるいてなんぼ] 自動販売機 [美魔女] 佐々木酒造 [あいさにブログ] 漫画自動販売機 [小倉かおるのブログ～平凡なサラリーマン日記～] 西伊豆戸田温泉の自動販売機 その２ [いちさんのブログ]
Top picture: Pixospective
Culture Smash is a regular dose of things topical, interesting and sometimes even awesome -- game related and beyond.