Japan is the country with the most vending machines. There are 6 millions. Statistically 1 machine for 20 Japanese !!! The power consumtion is huge. Aprox. 1000W for one machine will end up to 6GW or 4 nuclear power plants !!! If you put it that way: The 4 destroyed reactors in Fukushime Daiichi were only need for all the vending machines. On the other side this machines are necassary. You won’t miss them in summer. They are live saving like the air condition in the hotel (And they need even more nuclear power plants).
The vending machines offer cold and hot drinks. I don’t know how the Japanese are drinking hot canned coffee? I always burn my fingers.
Another advantage of vending machines are trash cans. Beside in Hiroshima I never saw a public trash can in Japan. Usually there behind an entrance gate or at a train platform. Places you need a ticket for. The only free accessable trash cans are next to a vending machine.
There are vending machines for everything: Coffee, tea, lemonade, beer and sake … (but beer and sake are declining, because Japan has tightened the youth protection) … cigarettes, batteries, SD-cards for digital cameras, eggs, underwears, lingerie. And to clean up with the myth: There were vending machines for used female underwear in Tokyo. But they were removed after public protests. Looks like there are limits even in Japan.
Paying is easy. The vending machines accept coins and notes. This is a nice benefit by the way. You can change money because on some places you have to pay without getting change. You should always have some coins in your pocket. Some machines also accept Suica and Pasmo. This is the RFID-version of a credit card. The Suica started as a payment system for the Tokyo subway. The vending machine in the picture above also has a IR interface and a display scanner for payments by mobile phone. I still don’t know what the bunny-button is for.
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