Unseen Japan

The Japan You Don't Learn About in Anime.

A long-serving train car on Tokyo Metro's Ginza line isn't heading entirely for the scrapyard: a part of its gets to live on in the station. (Picture: Tokyo Metro web site)

A Subway Train in Japan Gets a Second Life...as a Vending Machine

News   Posted on February 27, 2019 in business, environment, subway, vending machines • By Jay Andrew Allen • Read Related Articles

Occasionally, I have a realization that there are Japan-related topics that we haven't talked much about on Unseen Japan. One of them is vending machines.

Known as 自動販売機 (jidou hanbaiki), or more popularly by the shorter 自販機 (jihanki), vending machines, along with 24/7 convenience stores, are part of Japan's "convenience culture" - a piece of societal infrastructure that makes working long hours and being far away from home just a little bit easier. The combination of convenience culture and Japan's love of automation means you can find vending machines that dispense, not just soda, but a wide array of goods - up to and including freshly baked pizza.

The first ever pizza-dispensing vending machine in Japan is now operating in Hiroshima
And the pizza it makes is actually good, according to Japanese netizens.

While vending machines may be a common sight, there's a fairly uncommon machine in the Tameike Sanoo Station of Tokyo Metro's Ginza line. What makes its special isn't its content, but its construction: it contains the remnants of a decommissioned subway train. The machine has been dubbed "THE VENDING TRAIN", and has become the surprising subject of social media attention.

A video on YouTube shows the machine being put together, and explains a bit of its history:

The train was the last car from the 01 line of trains on the Ginza line, which was in operation for 33 years. The cars were slowly taken out of service and replaced as they reached the end of their lives. But no one wanted to simply see the stalwart line go out of service completely, so the final car was instead disassembled and its parts reused to make a drink dispenser.

Working conductors who were interviewed for the video talk about the train as if it were a human being. One conductors says: "It's a veteran, but I almost want to say it's like we did a heart transplant and told it, 'start over!'" Much in the same way that Marie Kondo urges people to thank objects for their service before throwing them away, one can detect the Shinto tradition's belief in the living status of all things in the way the conductors talk. Conductors seem to take a certain pride that a train that's "supported" them and supported hundreds of thousands of passengers is getting a second chance at life.

The vending machine sports the old train's destination marker, train number, Tokyo Metro trademark, and car number plate. More than that, the machine also speaks, using five phrases recorded by working conductors - meaning that a little part of the conductors, too, will also live on in the machine.

Visitors can check it out on the station platform near the central gate by the exit for platforms 11 and 12 at the Tameike Sanoo Station.

(JP) Link: A Train's Parts Become a Vending Machine; Ginza Line "Re-Employment" Becomes Hot Topic

地下鉄車両のパーツを自販機に、銀座線の“再就職”が話題
東京メトロ銀座線の溜池山王駅構内に設置された、ある自動販売機が話題になっている。 退職した車両が自動販売機になった「THE VENDING TRAIN」。2017年3月に営業運転を終了した東京メトロ

I'm the publisher of Unseen Japan. I hold an N1 Certification in the Japanese Language Proficiency Test, and am married to a wonderful woman from Tokyo.

Comments



You May Also Enjoy Reading...

New notes on currency

The Revolutionary Faces of Japan's New Currency

Essay   By Alyssa Pearl Fusek  ·  May 09, 2019 • Tagged with history, currency, money, business

Japan may be pivoting to a cashless society, but cash is still king - and the figures chosen for its new currency express both the nation's pride in its past and its hopes for the future.

The Woman Who Was Worked to Death

Essay   By Jay Andrew Allen  ·  May 07, 2019 • Tagged with business, economy, health, work, suicide, mental health

Nine months after starting work at Japanese advertising firm Dentsu, Takahashi Matsuri leaped to her death. Her death sparked a series of reforms - but some say it's still not enough.

2.5D upcoming musical productions

Bring Me To Life: How 2.5D Musicals Bring Anime and Manga to the Stage

Essay   By Krys Suzuki  ·  May 06, 2019 • Tagged with anime, manga, entertainment, theater, technology, business

Many live-action manga and anime adaptations are received poorly. So how has musical theater captured the imagination of fans worldwide?

Woman depressed at computer

May Blues: Will Japan's Regularly Scheduled Depression Be Worse in 2019?

News   By Jay Andrew Allen  ·  April 30, 2019 • Tagged with psychology, mental health, economy, business, work

Will the Japanese workforce's annual battle with depression be even worse after a 10-day vacation?

7-11 Convenience Store

Unseen Japan Kaiwa 4: An Inconvenient Conbini

Video   By Jay Andrew Allen  ·  April 27, 2019 • Tagged with economy, business, lifestyle, society

Why has the 24-7 Japanese convenience store suddenly become controversial? How critical are such stores to daily life in Japan? And why did Anthony Bourdain always head to a conbini when he landed in Japan?