The Ur-Vending Machine

I was walking along a little back street in Tama when I came across the great grand-daddy of vending machines: this little neighborhood vegetable hutch. People leave their backyard surplus in the bins and anyone can buy it by dropping ¥100 in the slot marked “Put Money In Here.” I know that there are lots of other places in the world where this kind of honor system is used so neighbors can trade what they make and grow, but finding it in the middle of a typical Tokyo suburb made me smile.

Read a novel set in Tokyo

In the wake of a deadly earthquake, fans erupt in a frenzy of mourning when it’s discovered that their favorite pop star is among the dead. But when Detective Kenji Nakamura is sent to investigate a death at a local shrine, he finds evidence that suggests the impossible: How could the head priest have been murdered by…read more