The Vending Machines of Japan (AAAARRRRRRHHHHH!!!)

Every so often this topic comes up and it annoys the hell out of me. No matter what you read or who you tells you, from my point of view this is the truth:

1. Porno vending machines are very, very rare. Used schoolgirl panty vending machines are non-existent. If someone can find a used panty machine, I will videotape myself buying a pair and wearing them on my head all day long. And then I will eat them for dinner.
2. The “Robot Supermarket” apparently did exist at one time in the late 90’s. There was even more than one of them in Tokyo, but as far as I can tell they no longer operate. If someone can find the street address of one, I’ll vlog it. On the entire Internet, I’ve been able to find only one web page (from 1997) mentioning it.
3. What’s so amazing about cigarette vending machines? Did they disappear from the US?
4. Starting next year in 2008, there will be some kind of age verification system implemented in alcohol and cigarette vending machines in Japan. (Or maybe just in JR train stations?) I haven’t looked into it yet.

I have a new goal in life: creating the quintessential online video debunking the common myths about vending machines in Japan.

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Rich Pav

Richard has been living in Japan since 1990 with his wife and two teenage sons, Tony and Andy.

28 thoughts to “The Vending Machines of Japan (AAAARRRRRRHHHHH!!!)”

  1. Cigarette vending machines have been gone in the US for about 10 to 15 years. The last time I saw one was when I was a little kid.

    I encountred an age-verification enabled vending machine in Kyushu once. You need to swipe your Japanese ID card on it: gaikokujin cards don’t work, so foreigners won’t be able to use such machines anymore. The system doesn’t prevent underage kids, who can go to any conbini or supermarket and buy liquor, from obtaining liquor.

  2. Hmm.. Well, i vaguely remember seeing a schoolgirls’ panties vending machine somewhere in Osaka. Of course, i might have imagined the whole thing. The mind does that sometimes, fusing two memories into one.

    1. In the event that you didn’t see that vending machine…I can understand seeing any other vending machine. I don’t understand why you would have seen a bunch of schoolgirls’ panties lying around. heh

      1. LOl. Well you see these stories about strange vending machines in Japan all over the internet, and i have personally seen some vending machines in Japan that aren’t necessarily strange, just unique to Japan. It’s been a while since i came back from Japan so the memories sort of merge, you know? I forgot where i read this, but supposedly as much as 30% of what the average person remembers never happened.

  3. This is getting good! The Vlog of you walking around with dirty panties on your head will be priceless!

    Snopes is pretty reliable. If you scroll down to the bottom they even list their sources. The beginning and end are good but the middle is just some-body’s mundane platitude on Japanese culture VS Western culture… blah blah blah. Anyways, I won’t hold you to eating the panties but wearing them on your head and walking around Tokyo is required. Maybe you should hire somebody to film you so we can all get a good view on the hilarity that ensues?

    1. The Snopes article says people claim they can be found. Unless someone can offer stronger proof than just heresay, I say they don’t exist. In fact, I’m tempted to go to every adult shop in Tokyo and ask the owners if they know where I can find one. I wonder if any of them would let me film them answering.

      I’ve seen a UFO catcher type machines in arcades that dispensed panties, but not used ones.

    1. The photo can’t be enlarged enough to read the writing on the packaging, and there’s an enormous scratch mark on the face of the machine covering the main text. I can’t tell if they’re new or used. It looks like it might be in a love hotel, because it says there are both men’s and women’s underwear. In which case, they’d be cheap, sexy, NEW panties. Yes, I see the photos of schoolgirls on the boxes, but someone with a schoolgirl panty fetish might want his open-minded girlfriend to wear a pair. Some love hotel rooms even have different cosplay outfits available.

      I haven’t found any websites in Japanese about used panty vending machines, but from the Snopes article, in the early 90’s there was a machine in Chiba Prefecture selling them and there was an uproar from the local community. The town government figured out a way to make them illegal by classifying them as second-hand antiques, requiring a license to sell.

      Until I see a used panty vending machine with my own eyes or read a first-hand account about one from someone who can read enough Japanese to tell a box of old panties from new ones, I won’t believe they exist. One thing for sure, they’re certainly not on every streetcorner, which seems to be the impression some people have.

      While we’re on the subject of bizarre sex in Japan, I don’t recall ever seeing tentacle porn anime in a video rental store either, although I have to admit I’ve never looked. That’s another product that gets more attention than it deserves.

        1. It’s fun to read, but I have a hard time believing most of what shows up on that site. The Japanese language tabloids they get their articles from are similar to The National Enquirer et. al. But it seems like the people who translate the articles have a lot of fun doing it.

  4. Actually there are still cigarette machines in America. Last time I saw one was about a month ago, walking into a bar with some friends on South Street in Philadelphia. I forget the name of the bar. But honestly you’re not missing a thing.. $7.00’s for a pack of smokes is way too much money. Then again, I don’t buy my cigarettes from where i live (New Jersey).. We’ve all found this great place called Delaware. It’s a magical land where there is no such thing as “taxes”. 😉

  5. Yes, you can still find cigarette machines in bars and such places in the US where you are carded before you enter, but that’s about it. And they are indeed obscenely expensive. The one I saw in a night club wanted eight bucks for a pack, where they cost about 3-4 at the gas station.

  6. No, i definitely saw a panty machine in Kyoto about 5 years ago. Whether or not they’d been used, i’m really not sure. The machine in question was near a vegetarian restaurant. Precise location i can’t remember, but i want to say just east of the river, maybe around san jo dori..

    1. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. I will only accept 100% verifiable sightings in the quest for a used panty vending machine. It’s too easy for people who don’t read Japanese to mistake new panties in a vending machine for old ones.

      I wonder why they’d sell underwear next to a vegetarian restaurant. Maybe their curries are so hot that people often burn holes in their shorts.

    1. Actually neither are common. The number of porn machines seems to have decreased right around the time broadband hit the big time, and even before then they could only be found in the middle of nowhere on trucking routes. I’ve never actually seen a new panty vending machine in the wild, but it’s a lot easier to imagine one existing than a used panty one. But if one does exist, I intend to hunt it down, vlog it, and buy myself a lovely new hat. I’m uploading a podcast right now that I recorded last night, on which I blathered on the topic of vending machines and such for about 40 minutes.

  7. I wouldn’t say ONLY “in the middle of nowhere.” At least until a year or two ago, there was a porn machine tucked behind some drink machines in Nakano, one in an alcove near Yurakucho station that also had 24-hour cigarette and booze machine (both illegal), and a whole cave of them on Kanpachi-dori in Ogikubo, although, as far as I know, none of them sold any panties new or used.

  8. I think you mentioned in one of your podcast that you have ever been in (front of) a shop selling used panties. So when there are shops selling used panties, it isn’t very strange that there are also vending machines selling those. Maybe because people are ashamed to buy used panties in a shop.. nobody knows when you buy it from a vending machine somewhere in a back alley.

    but whoa, it would be kinda cool when such vending machines actually did exist! (especially because you would have to wear them on your head :p) The whole used schoolgirl pantsu thing is just funny or sick in a nice way I think, not unethical or whatever. No schoolgirls are harmed in the production, right?

    It is a fascinating subject though. What kind of people would buy used panties? and why… They are gonna wear them (on their head) or something? Give them as a present to their girlfriend?

    I wonder how the production process goes. Real schoolgirls getting paid to wear panties for a day? It just seems strange that schoolgirls actually would do such a thing. Is there some kind of certificate that proves their authenticity? :p Maybe Drew’s movie is right… boy, the buyers of those panties would be angry (and disgusted)if they knew that!

    1. Back in the early 90’s I used to know where there was a store in Akihabara that sold second hand school uniforms. There was a Mac store on an upper floor of the same building, and once I was curious to see what other stores were there and found it. I don’t remember seeing used panties, but it still freaked me out. I was new to Japan back then.

      I pushed the elevator button to get the hell out of there. When the door opened, there were two people in it who gave me a very unapproving look.

      I did some more research on the web today and found that selling panties that were worn by girls under 18 has been illegal in Tokyo since 2004. Better late than never, I guess.

      This sounds like the most plausable beginning to and outcome of the legend of the used panty vending machine:

      At some point in 1993, some businessmen in the bluelight (although maybe that should be the “pinklight”) district of Chiba City put some used panties in a vending machine and, voila, history was made. Sweaty, grimy history. Many of the local people got their own briefs in a bunch over the machines and complained and towards the end of ’93 and, using an obscure antique dealing law, the machines were removed. That’s what they get for airing their dirty laundry in public.

      But still, I really really want to get a quote on video from someone from the Japan Vending Machine Manufacturer’s Association on the real story. Snopes says the machines still exist, and I’m almost certain that’s not true. I want to set the record straight once and for all. I feel it’s my civic duty to do all I possibly can to repair the tarnished reputation of this fine country. I don’t exactly know why, but it annoys the hell out of me that so many people believe they’re commonplace.

  9. Now that I think about it in another way… it is disgusting! The (older) men sniffing the panties that is. It’s good that bill will put a ban on the trade of used panties and thus protects the innocent (naive) girls. Just read the comments on the first site…

    So if it is prohibited by law to sell used panties, I think that is convincing evidence that there certainly aren’t any vending machines for that purpose.

    It’s understandable that it annoys you. Some other people think they know the truth about the vending machines of japan although they probably havent even been there. Yet still those people are with many and so they can convince even more people about the existence of used panty vending machines.

    Oh and about the story of you taking a look at the used uniform shop.. I hope you don’t think it’s rude of me, but I think it’s funny!

    woops, I have to go and pick up my little sister from school and I’m already late! Anyway, to me this matter didn’t tarnish the reputation of Japan at all. Maybe I’m too naive. Anyway, byebye!

  10. you guys are all kinda kooky. Yes, there are still cigarette vending machines in the U.S.- (proof is at La Cantina in Oswego Il) and there are used panty vending machines in s. korea.

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