The other day, I was reading through June 1 journal entries of times past. I came across the June 1, 2007 entry in Triumphs & Tribulation VII. I was making my Fussa debut as I walked off of the Yokota Air Base military installation for the first time. Walking around the neighborhood over the course of 2 hours, I discovered how different Japan really was from anywhere I had lived or even visited in the West. I noticed things I’d never see in North America. That brings me to this week’s moment in the Flashback Friday series: the Japanese vending machine.
How I first came across this moment? I came across the vending machines for the first time on the installation. There was one inside of the gymnasium on the eastern side. But it was the one along the sidewalk across the street from the then newly-built 7-Eleven that captivated my interest. It was a Coca-Cola vending machine. But instead of just showing buttons of what the options were, there were actual real-life replicas of the beverages displayed…both hot and cold.
What it meant to me then? I was very much fascinated. I actually stopped and snapped a picture. I had never seen anything like that before. I thought it was pure genius. In fact, in that entry of Triumphs & Tribulations VII, I wrote that I thought I saw “the most genius thing ever”. The concept of having actual replicas of the beverages made the selection process much easier for me when it came to Japanese-branded beverages. I had an idea of what they looked like. That mattered a lot to me.
What it means to me now? Nowhere else in the world have I seen that with vending machines. If it was genius in 2007, it’s revolutionary in 2022. I believe all vending machines should adopt the concept. Nevertheless, when I first saw it, I was certainly moved.