Visiting Japan, you may get the chance to visit several notable landmarks: Mt. Fuji, Tokyo Skytree, Asakusa. But now, you’ll need to put at least one more spot on your list: the strange Akihabara vending machine corner in Tokyo.
I’d seen rumors of this fabled place online. While the corner doesn’t seem to have a name, it is relatively easy to find. About a five minute walk from Akihabara Station, you’ll find this strange vending machine corner tucked away on a quieter block.
Before you get the wrong impression, the contents of the vending machines are not the oddest part. In fact, most of the items are normal. Even the stranger items are fairly tame.
No, the biggest draw is the atmosphere, the odd mix of items, the signs. In particular: the signs.
I would not go to this vending machine corner at night. Instead, I arrived sometime soon after dawn. Actually, even though the darkness was not an issue, the lack of people was unnerving.
The quietness adds to the eeriness of the signs. You can see even more photos of the signs and corner itself at Another Tokyo and BQ to get a feel for the atmosphere. The website ReTrip has a great collection of the text of the signs, which range from humorous to “guy on the street corner hearkening the end of the world.”
A few samples of the signs at the Akihabara vending machine corner, translated into English:
- Everyday, everyday, earthquakes. Have you prepared your canned food, emergency rations?
- Room-temperature drinks (presumably a joke based on the fact that some vending machines have hot and cold drinks)
- We live in a warring period. To the front lines, to victory. In pursuit with Pote-Long snacks!
- There is a reason we’ve continued to drink Mitsui Cider for 135 years. Ask Sachiko. Sachiko was scary. (Nobody seems to know who Sachiko is…)
- With konpeito (on KitKat vending machine)
- Warning: This is a not a toilet. If you urinate or defecate here, man or woman, I will photograph and videotape your face and nether regions and put it on the internet forever. (In the farmost corner of the vending machine area)
- Water bottles for sale inside, to prevent sickness
- I’ll cut off all 20 of your fingers and toes. (in relation to anyone who graffitis, etc… a little extreme)
- Confetti/Konpeito-Bomb Baan, At T. Trading Corp, Manager S. is overbearing toward his subordinates and flattering toward his boss — a genius. He is taken by the mama-san at a nearby cafe and always goes to eat napolitan spaghetti there. So his subordinates call him Manager Napolitan. The end. (written on a mysterious package in a machine)
- Fire warning: If you smoke or dispose of cigarettes in this area, a 5,250 yen penalty will be collected. (very specific)
- There were quite a few more that didn’t seem appropriate to post. There were even more that I could not understand the meaning enough to translate.
Inside the Vending Machines
Although the signs are the main attraction, I lied when I said the Akihabara vending machine contents weren’t a little odd. While, in fact, much of the products seem normal, some strange ones are certainly mixed in.
- A vending machine with lots of toy bullet trains
- Toy kabuto mushi (rhinoceros beetles) mixed in with other more conventional products
- Konpeito included in packages with other more conventional prodcuts
- Scented candles
- Popcorn vending machine (not so strange, but not common)
- Himalayan salt
- Suppon (soft-shelled turtle) drink
- Wind chime
- Canned bread
- Mystery packages with short stories written on the outside
At Another Tokyo, the writer bought one of the mystery packages and found cookies and kaki-pis (slightly spicy snacks that go with beer).
I was only brave enough to get a regular bottled water.
Have you been brave enough to visit Akihabara’s most unique vending machine corner?
Akihabara Vending Machine Corner Details
Address: Near Tokyo-to, Chiyoda-ku, Kanda Suda-cho 2-19-7
Hours: Open 24 hours (probably)