They're everywhere, populating just about every idle piece of real estate available, dispensing anything you may need at short notice, in more varieties than you can hope to imagine. We're talking about the all conquering Japanese vending machine.
If Hong Kong can boast the highest population density of any city in the world, Japan can definitely boast the highest vending machine density of any country in the world, with the number of vending machines in action by the end of 2007 standing at a lazy 5,405,300.
The reason for such a staggering number is primarily their convenience, but we're not particularly concerned with that. What is interesting however is the type of item that can be procured using vending machines in Japan.
Here they are, and this is by no means an exhaustive list, the research continues...
Food / beverage
Horse racing tickets
Used schoolgirls underwear (banned since 1995)
Phone battery chargers
In addition to these, the latest vending machines offer stand up comedy, speech in local dialects and internal cameras to take take you step by step through the production of your coffee.
Can't wait to see what's in the works for 2009...