When Americans think of vending machines, they tend to think of candy bars and soda cans. Pretty standard stuff. But just because things are vended automatically doesn't mean they have to be standard and boring. Widely acknowledged to be a land of technical wizardry, Japan boasts vending machines that dispense everything from rhinoceros beetles to sex toys. To find out what exotic goodies your small change could buy in the Far East, check out our list of the quirkiest products dispensed by Japanese vending machines.

A wayward teenager's dream come true: beer, sake, and even whiskey are freely available from Japanese vending machines, with nothing but a sign warning underage drinkers away. Some machines are now fixed with cameras that photograph the purchaser, but for the most part, the country operates on an "honor code." Alcohol is an integral part of Japan's culture, with even temples, such as the Saikyo-ji temple outside Kyoto, offering vending machines that sell beer. Cigarettes, which sport endearing names like Peace and Hope, are available as well.

Pornographic material, designer condoms, and even dildos are dispensed by vending machines across Japan's red light districts, particularly in Kyoto. Travelers report that the price of pornographic videos and other sex aids ranges from 2000 to 10,000 yen ($16- $82.) Often, such machines are protected by metal bars and are shielded by shades that roll up at night.

Soda vending machines are by no means uncommon around the world, but in typical fashion, Japan takes things one step further. Japanese vending machines dispense "Water Salad" -- water produced by Coca-Cola that is apparently salad flavored. The machines are also cleverly programmed to change the prices of drinks depending on how hot it is outside -- prices go up when temperatures rise. And in a laudable attempt to be environmentally friendly, many of the country's soda dispending machines stand next to recycling machines that allow consumers to automatically exchange their used cans for a small sum of money.

If it begins to look ominously stormy (or exceptionally sunny) while you're out, you can tap a couple of buttons at the nearest machine to obtain immediate shelter from the elements. You can't expect instant gratification without paying up, however -- the machine-dispensed umbrellas are significantly more expensive than store-bought ones, reportedly costing up to 1000 yen ($8) each.

A nation that eats a lot of rice, Japan has vending machines that dispense entire bags of the grain. Simply choose the amount and type of rice desired, deposit the money, and you've avoided the lines at the grocery store. Buyers who want to stock up -- or feed hungry sumo wrestlers -- can even purchase 10 kg (22 pound) bags of rice, for prices reportedly ranging from 3600 to 4,800 yen ($30-$40.)

Just to make sure you're never stranded, ultra-convenient Japanese vending machines in many public places like department stores and train stations dispense packets of toilet paper. They cost 50 to 100 yen for a package, small change that's well worth it if you're forced to venture into any of the country's main public restrooms that do not offer toilet paper.

In some areas like Miyazaki and Gifu Prefectures, live rhinoceros beetles are automatically dispensed for between 100 to 300 yen (80 cents to $2.50.) The beetles are popular pets among Japanese youngsters -- males sport impressive horns and big jaws, and are thus sold for a lot more than their female counterparts.

You've probably watched at least one sci-fi horror flick in which machines become smarter than human beings and get to decide the fate of mankind. Somewhat along those lines, in Japan, you can get insights into your fate simply by popping a few coins into a vending machine and waiting for your "fortune" to be automatically dispensed. Reported locations for these mechanical oddities include shrines and temples.

Fast Company

The Quirkiest Vending Machines

When Americans think of vending machines, they tend to think of candy bars and soda cans. Pretty standard stuff. But just because things are vended automatically doesn't mean they have to be standard and boring. Widely acknowledged to be a land of technical wizardry, Japan boasts vending machines that dispense everything from rhinoceros beetles to sex toys. To find out what exotic goodies your small change could buy in the Far East, check out our list of the quirkiest products dispensed by Japanese vending machines.

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