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Business trends

Japan businesses rediscovering the magic of vending machines

Ubiquitous devices go high tech, low tech, spooky, even tasty

This vending machine at Okano Shoten in Uchikocho, Ehime Prefecture, used to sell cigarettes, but now makes 10,000 yen a month selling a variety of origami items.

TOKYO -- Vending machines are a common sight around the world, selling beverages, cigarettes and other items. In Japan, famously, they offer a host of surprises. Companies are rediscovering the power of the old-fashioned sales tool to lure customers.

Hikarie ShinQs is a shopping center in Tokyo's Shibuya district, a place bustling with young people. Go up the escalator and you are greeted by a 2-meter-tall milk bottle. The peculiar-looking vending machine never fails to grab visitors' attention.

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