Vending the Rules

Photograph for TIME by John Stanmeyer/Saba.

Patrons at Tokyo's first fully automated convenience store eye shelved filled with everything from gum and batteries to noodles and magazines.

You deposit your coins and make your choice: dried squid or hair tonic, batteries or green tea, boxers or beer. It's all enticingly on display under the fluorescent lights of a truck-sized vending machine parked in the lobby of Tokyo's Shibuya Excel Hotel. The New Economy comes in a variety of offerings, and this is the ultimate in high-tech self-serve. Manufactured by Sanyo Electric, this fully automated mini-convenience store is part of a new generation of vending machines popping up in a country that's long been obsessed with coin-slot culture. Sanyo's Auto Shop Vendor isn't just bigger than the Coke-and-coffee machines...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!