Last year I posted some photos of old and broken Japanese vending machines. A set of fascinatingly sad metal boxes that I rather ambitiously suggested had their own distinct personalities, or at the very least a sort of quiet dignity all their own.
The more I see, however, and the more that does seem to ring true. There really is something about them. It could be simple nostalgic value, or perhaps it’s because they still stand tall as if ready and willing to serve once again. Whatever it is though, they are always an absolute treat to encounter, and objects I’m more than happy to go well out of my way to photograph.
All that said, some of these newer finds are distinctly more dilapidated than dignified, but I did get to shoot a kind I’ve been hoping to stumble upon for the longest time — the formerly elusive film version. A wonderfully rare blast from the past that compared to some of the others is still in surprisingly good shape.
Gotta love the optimism of “smoking clean & tender heart”
Yeah, they don’t do advertising quite like that anymore!
I like the variety of shapes and designs. They seem more unique than modern vending machines?
I’d say so, yes. Definitely more uniformity with many of the modern machines. More or less all selling soft drinks now too, so that standardises things further.
Ken C says
Ah, the One Cup headache-producing liquid!
Yes, not exactly the finest beverages in the world!
Great photos, some seem to still be in use, replenished with fresh stock
Thanks a lot. The Pokka machine in the next to last photo is the only one definitely still in use. The Takara one below the rusted CocaCola machine might still be operational, but otherwise all the others are long since out of use.
Every time that I return to Japan the huge number of these machines never fail to amaze me. Where else would you find one selling alcoholic beverages?!?
The Coca Cola machines remind me of days gone by when I lived in Tokyo (1969-71).
Thanks for an update. I hope you post more in the weeks to come.
I know eh? They really are a very visible part of the landscape. Even culture I guess.
You are welcome. Hopefully there’ll be many more to see in the future.
Here in the US, the very old vending machines command a huge price when properly restored. As a young man I can recall seeing the older mechanically actuated variety, put your coins in and crank a large rigid handle, to move a cold bottle into a small window for extraction. The only use for the electrical connection was to keep all the contents for sale cold and to light a small ad panel.
I have seen those exact vending machines now selling for 1000s of USD. These were languishing for years and rusting in a discarded state located unseen behind businesses and largely forgotten.
So seeing your photographs makes me wonder if some nostalgic collectors in Nippon will want these in the decades ahead.
That’s interesting. I’ve seen several old CocaCola machines here that have the little window. Top right if I remember correctly. Next time I see one I’ll have to check if it has a handle. None of them have been in working order of course.
I do hope so. It’d be lovely to see a collection of them brought back to life. They wouldn’t be able to stock the same drinks as they once did, but it’d still be worthwhile saving them.
No Fujicolor and out of stock of crane snacks for those with yellow hair. It could be grim for (retro) tourists!
No, but with news that tourists will soon be let back in again, maybe the machines will be re-stocked and fired up once again!
Andrew H says
First time commenter but I’ve been enjoying your photos for a while after finding you through the video you did with Lukasz from EYExplore. I really like this collection.
I remember taking a shot of an abandoned Asahi-branded beer vending machine when I visited the Japan Ukiyo-e Museum near Matsumoto. I found the shot from back in 2012. Like in a couple of your shots, it had been infiltrated by Kirin (and Sapporo) products.
I checked Google Street View to see if it was still there. In the available historical views I see it was covered with a tarp sometime between 2015 and 2017 and remained wrapped up until at least May 2019. It has finally gone in the latest 2022 images. It was opposite the Shimadachi Post Office north of Ōniwa Station if you want to take a look.
I don’t know why, but there’s something quite evocative about the photo of Mt. Fuji taped to the machine in the 11th photo.
Hello, good to hear from you, and I’m happy you found me from that video. It was a lot of fun to make.
Cheers. It’s always a treat to find machines like this, and they do seem to work well as little collections. I know what you mean about the Mt. Fuji photo too. A rather poignant addition.
Just had a look at that vending machine. What a shame it has gone. The old shop also looked great with its tattered awning. Even the similarly appealing old tobacconist across the street has gone. You definitely visited at the right time.
I dig the subtle charm of these old machines and am glad that you document such things. The Suntory machine lurking in the bushes!