Weekly Musings 090

Welcome to this edition of Weekly Musings, where each week I share some thoughts about what's caught my interest in the last seven days.

Sometimes, things hit you from different angles all at once. Which is what happened with me over the last week or so. Mainly in a good way, but a way in which left me scrambling to get this edition of the letter out.

With time at a premium, I dug into my archives and found something kind of finished, but which needed a bit of TLC. Which is what you're about to read. I hope that you enjoy it.

With that out of the way, let's get to this week's musing.

On the (Japanese) Vending Machine

Like white-gloved pushers in the Tokyo subway and tales of $50 watermelons, stories about interesting, practical, and downright weird vending machines are one of the images burned into the world's knowledge of Japan. A knowledge that most of us didn't pick up first hand, but rather acquired through the often superficial and often distorted lens of the media and popular tales.

The actual number and variety of vending machines lives up to those tales. That was true when I was travelling around Japan in the early 1990s. I'm sure it's still true today.

Before I stepped off the plane at Osaka's Itami airport, I'd read about Japanese vending machines in various breathless newspaper and magazine pieces. I took those reports with a volleyball-sized grain of salt, figuring that some of what was being written about were novelty machines or ones that sprinkled lightly throughout the Japanese urban landscape.

I was wrong. So, so wrong.

What I'd read about before setting foot on Japanese soil was just a taste of the vending machines I'd bump into (sometimes literally). Some of those machines were plain and utilitarian. Some were surprising. A few were unexpected. None of them were boring.

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