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The Marble Bust Vending Machine

I saw this gashapon vending machine in Akihabara the other night, and stopped dead in my tracks, trying to imagine what kind of kid would pester his mom for $4.00 to try for a little plastic statue with a piece of gum stuck to its head.

Turns out, a Japanese movie with the catchy title “Thermae Romae” is in theatres right now, and because the time traveling “Roman” (played, of course by popular Japanese actor Hiroshi Abe) suddenly pops up in a modern-day Japanese bath, the promo items feature statues with onsen-style washcloths balanced on their heads, washing their hair with faces protected by Japanese lather shields, or mysteriously carting around koi fish.

Mommy, pleeeeeeez?! All my friends have one!

If you’d like to visit the Akihabara area the next time you’re in Tokyo,  maps are on my website, The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had.

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Jonelle Patrick View All

Writing mystery books set in Tokyo is mostly what I do, but I also blog about the odd stuff I see every day in Japan. I'm a graduate of Stanford University and the Sendagaya Japanese Institute in Tokyo, and a member of the International Thriller Writers, the Mystery Writers of America, and Sisters In Crime. When I'm not in Tokyo, I live in San Francisco. I also host a travel site called The Tokyo Guide I Wish I'd Had, so if you're headed to Japan and want to check out the places I take my friends when they're in town, take a look!

8 thoughts on “The Marble Bust Vending Machine Leave a comment

  1. I’ve been wanting to see that movie!!

    Hahaha, I can see the connection now between the film and these little toys now though.

    Ahhhhh, Akiba………fond memories………and the bug porn on the upper levels of the manga shoppes…. :S

      • I didn’t see it myself. Actually, I’m not even sure if that’s what it was. All I know is my friend went into the 8th level of some shop just ahead of me and quickly had himself pale-faced and running back toward me in the elevator. “HOLD THE DOOR! HOLD THE DOOR!” he screamed as I jammed my finger on the ‘lobby’ button. Later he explained to me that he had seen something horrific….. and that it was all porn. He wouldn’t tell me any more, so I’ve just assumed that it was bug porn, lol.

      • Oh, hmm, I bet it was a dōjinshi shop, where they sell manga made by fans. In these, anything (and I mean ANYTHING) goes, including some very strange, er, bedfellows. Out of curiousity, I bought a Star Wars-themed one entitled “I Have A Bad Feeling About This” with a cover featuring Qui-gon and the young apprentice Obi-wan. When I took off the shrink wrap, as you can imagine, it lived up to its title, and then some…!

    • I’m sorry to say, these are such old gachagacha now that I don’t even see them in the little stores in Akihabara that sell vending machine toys. You could try seraching Thermae Romae or テルマエ・ロマエ (which is the name of the movie that inspired them)plusガチョポン。

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