The Japanese urban will never look complete without the "jidohanbaiki" (the Japanese word for "vending machine") populating every space -- but these convenient machines can also be found in end-of-the-road areas. Vending machines atop a mountainside? Photographer Eiji Ohashi documents this unique feat.
Vending machines have become normal infrastructures in the urban landscape all over the world. Surprisingly, the United States surpasses Japan when it comes to vending machine populace. However, the machines are not as iconic and appealing anywhere else than in the Land of the Rising Sun. It seems like a trivial fact, but the machine symbolizes more.
When the Great Tohoku Earthquake of 2011 hit the shores of Japan, one of the first items that were listed 'wasteful' were vending machines, and they were the first infrastructures set-up in the aftermath. Eiji believes that humanity can survive without the vending machine, but the convenience it provides to people is very important. Important in the sense, the vending machines can be found in rural areas, obscure locations -- mountain tops, seemingly-ghosted towns, abandoned-looking roads, among others.
In Hokkaido, the city where Eiji lives, winters get as harsh as they can be, blizzard being one of the greatest challenges among them; of course, the inconveniences come in, so does the danger of going far to buy a hot drink in grocery stores or shops. As an elderly gentleman such as Eiji himself, it can be challenging. Hence, people like Eiji would no longer need to go farther -- they step outside and find the nearest glowing machine to provide their comforts in the most difficult situations.
That's why Eiji is so fascinated with the picturesque look of a glowing vending machine against a snow-ridden evening; how a simple object can provide poetry -- the sole source of warmth and light in dark, cold times.
Watch out for our exclusive interview with Eiji soon. Meanwhile, check out his website