Japanese Only

A link to this video showed up on BoingBoing today. In the 18 years I’ve lived here, the only establishment I’ve seen that refused foreigners and wasn’t a shady pub or run-down love hotel in a neighborhood full of foreign prostitutes or massage parlor-type place was a pachinko parlor on the outskirts of my hometown. Anyone who thinks that normal places in Japan–restaurants, hotels, public baths, shops, whatever–are in the habit of prohibiting foreigners from entering is mistaken. Since I don’t try to go into sleazy bars and such I’ve never, not even once, been refused service anywhere. The fact that there are a few businesses out there run by organized crime syndicates that don’t want my money doesn’t bother me in the least.

The FINAL word on used panty vending machines in Japan.

Here it is, all in one post. Please digg it. Do it for Japan. Every misinformed Japanophile needs to learn the truth once and for all.

1. This is NOT a photo of a used panty vending machine: http://www.photomann.com/japan/machines/bizarrex.jpg

I can’t read all the text because of the low resolution of the photo and the big scratch on the face of the machine, but what I can read is, “ladies & mens brand new lingerie” in the center and “imported from USA” on the right. My guess is the machine was either in or near a love hotel.

2009/12/15 Update: Someone just pointed out to me that the vending machine reads, “米国直輸入実証済みのスゴイ商品” (Imported directly from America, tried and true amazing products.)

2. Snopes is WRONG. (gasp!)
The page reads,

We’d read that this practice ended in 1993 and reported as much in the original of this article (which was penned in 2001), but since that time numerous readers living in Japan have written to say that not only haven’t the machines gone away, but that they’ve themselves seen them.

How many of those eyewitnesses could read enough Japanese to tell if a vending machine was selling new knickers or used ones?

3. It is illegal in many prefectures to sell schoolgirls’ used panties.

This Google search retrieves page after page of the laws in many prefectures that forbid the sale or purchase of used schoolgirl panties (even fake ones) anywhere, including in vending machines. Almost all of them use exactly the same wording. The average fine for breaking the law is 300,000 yen.

So how did this rumor first get started? This page sums it up best. Apparently, in 1993 someone in Chiba City put used panties in one or more vending machines. Subsequently, skanky underpants were classified under the law as second hand goods, which require a license to sell. This law is actually to prevent the sale of stolen goods, as explained on this page, which answers the question from a concerned mother whose daughter and friends were making a killing by peddling their skid-marked skivvies over the internet.

Are we all clear on this now?

Just this second I thought of the easiest way to get proof on video, if there’s anyone out there who’s still not convinced: I’ll go to a police box with my camcorder and ask a policeman.

P.S. In Japan, there aren’t any convenience stores staffed by robots either.

Used Panty Vending Machines and other Bulls#!+

In respone to the comments to this post on Digg.com:

Repeat after me: There are no used panty vending machines in Japan. The third most common vending machines after soft drinks and smokes aren’t the ones for porn. We don’t have supermarkets staffed by robots. You don’t see “many many bars and other services that have big signs saying ‘NO FOREIGNERS’.” Are the Japanese “beta testers for future technology”? I don’t think so. At least not the ones in my neighborhood.

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.

read more | digg story

Chinese Whispers about Japan

This interesting little factoid, dear listeners, is an extreme–but common–exaggeration. It showed up on digg.com this morning.

15 million Japanese No Longer Use Paper Money EVER

Today, however, for 15 million Japanese, paper money is a thing of the past, according to the Japan Research Institute. No longer solely used for online purchases, e-money, accessed via a smart card or mobile phone, has become a way of life for many consumers in Japan.

read more | digg story

“Shiny Mud Balls” are not a fad. (Well, maybe)

I think I first read about this “fad” about a week ago on Boing Boing. Search Google for “shiny mud balls” in English and you get 186,000 hits. Search for the same term in Japanese (光る泥団子) and you get 413 hits. The latest fad taking Japan by storm? I think not.

For what it’s worth, I asked the expert this morning (Tony, 8yrs old) and he had never heard of them. Maybe they’re all the rage in another part of the country. Some place where people don’t use the Internet much, I guess.
Shiny Mud Balls

Update: Siuyee, our resident Quality Control expert, notes that if you remove “shiny” from the search term you get 19,700 hits. So it’s quite possible that I’m totally wrong, and my kid’s a nerd. Maybe all his classmates are mass-producing shiny mud balls and hiding them when he comes around. What I do know for sure is that I’m at work eight hours a day and I’ve never seen any of my Japanese colleagues make one…

While we’re at it, let’s also tackle the myth about Japanese being in love with their robotic dogs and manservants. Sony recently stopped production of the Aibo and Qrio to return their focus to products they can actually sell. For a profit.