Japan is well known for its vending machines. With good reason too, as despite the ever-increasing number of convenience stores, the vending machine is still ubiquitous. Yet seeing one that’s no longer operational, let alone left to rot, is surprisingly rare, so below is a selection of the ones I’ve stumbled upon over the years. Some are still there, some may well be long gone, but in their own decaying way, all of them were oddly interesting.
Brilliant series here Lee! These are a far cry from what we see now with touchscreen displays on many of them.
I really like the juxtaposition with colors and textures these forgotten machines have with their immediate surroundings. The yellow Sapporo machine and blue one wedged between the wall especially stick out
Yeah, a couple of more modern ones, but most of the kind you don’t see anymore.
Good to hear that element comes out through the photos. Definitely how I saw them.
My favourites vary, especially as a few have good memories attached. This morning it’s the first, the Coca Cola machine and the yellow Sapporo one.
Btw that’s the first for me to see a vending machine that sells or rather sold magazines. I’m assuming it must’ve been for racier reading material? Any thoughts?
Hmm, that’s a good point. Racy material would make sense, but then when I have seen machines selling adult stuff, they have always been tucked away somewhere discreet. Never out in the open like this.
Also, they were in a small town, and the machines are clearly old, so my guess (although I could well be very wrong) would be that they were regular magazines. The machines just being the best way for people to get their reading material in a time before convenience stores, and in a town without many shops.
Thank you for the added information;) that does indeed make more sense:)
You are very welcome!
What a great idea for a photo series. Isn’t it odd that an abandoned vending machine is kind of sad (or is that just me?)
Definitely not just you. I get the same feeling. Not sure why though. Perhaps ‘cos we are simply so used to seeing them in good shape and working order? Or the fact that at certain times they are so very welcome that it seems a genuine shame to see them neglected like this?
I think also because there has to be a human story behind it and it’s clearly one of loss. At one point that spot was lively enough that someone thought it would be worth having a vending machine there, and now it’s obviously not – and all the things that that means.
That’s a much better, and far more poignant explanation than mine. One that definitely rings true for the photos above. Very true for several of them.
Very cool series! I’d love to have bought a Sapporo beer from the yellow one! 😉
Cheers. Likewise, a very inviting machine and location!
A superb set of photographs. There is something forlorn about them in a kind of Wall-e way. Built to serve us and then abandoned.
The faded red on the Kirin one is special, but why have the magazine ones been overpainted in the same green as the road markings?
Thank you. Yes, there really is. Forlorn is the perfect description.
I have a real soft spot for the Kirin one too. Especially with the One Cup machine next to it. As for the magazine ones though, I have absolutely no idea why they did that…
David Lowe says
There’s still quite a few broken-down National NEO ‘Hi-Top’ battery vending machines laying about. I guess they were once popular in the days before convenience stores made them obsolete.
Yeah, I’ve always been fascinated by the battery vending machines, but like you said, they must have made sense before convenience stores were everywhere. Weirdly I’ve seen a few modern, functioning ones. They really don’t seem to make sense at all…
Sad that Kirin seems to be getting a reputation for morally defunct investment in Myanmar (ref: Japan Times). No. 1 spot for being topical?
The fire extinguishers and the red machine with the keys in is amazing, as is the last image; the shrub jauntily angled to reveal the aged patina of the machine contrasting the duck egg blue background and pristine bicycle – (sh)rubarii!!
It really is, but nah, first just ‘cos it seemed to work best that way.
Thank you! I really like the last machine in particular. In fact, that’s the one that inspired this set, as I recently went back to photograph it, and then that’s when the idea came to me.
Well done Lee. Nice series. Wondering about the signs in that one. Does “DISK” mean “Discontinued”?
Thanks a lot. Nah, they are just stickers someone has put on at a later date. Street art of sorts. No idea what it refers to though.