Yes, in Japan you can get almost anything from a street vending machine. Haagen Dazs green tea ice cream, beer, cold canned coffee, rice, film, manga, pornography, sake, hot coffee, Pocari Sweat, live beetles, CDs, you name it, it's in a vending machine somewhere in Japan. And yes, of course, the renowned girls' underwear. -_-

Japan is a vending machine paradise. Any time you want a hot coffee or a cold beer, all you have to do is peer around the corner. There it is: 24-hour-a-day stimulants/depressants, right at your fingertips. There are currently about 5.4 million vending machines in Japan, about 1 for every 22 people.

Why are they so popular? One reason in that space is SO expensive. Vending machines produce more revenue per square meter of scarce land than any convenience store ever would.

Another reason is that Japan's crime rate is remarkably low. Sometimes a vending machine will hold 80 000 yen (800+ US dollars) in cash in isolated areas where alarm systems are useless yet STILL no enterprising thief takes the bait. North Americans soft drink manufacturers would not even THINK of putting a machine in such a stand-alone location.

This does not fall under the vending machine category but it is interesting to note. In Japan you can play a game called Marine Catcher, which is essentially manuvering a mechanical claw to grab prizes below. Only in the case of the Marine Catcher your prizes are live lobsters. Cost to play, about five dollars US.

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