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.