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Vending machines at Olympics' media center offering unique Japanese goods proving popular

Members of news organizations are seen in front of vending machines selling official Tokyo Games goods at the Main Press Center in the capital's Koto Ward on July 17, 2021. (Mainichi/Rei Kubo)

TOKYO -- Vending machines at the Main Press Center for the Tokyo Games set up as a measure to prevent coronavirus infections are attracting attention for their unique Olympic goods.

    The five vending machines in front of an official shop at the center of Tokyo Big Sight in the capital's Koto Ward offer items adapting Japanese traditional culture, such as wooden cat dolls with a beckoning paw and the games' emblem on the back costing 16,500 yen (about $150) each. Other items include "Shirakawa Daruma" Bodhidharma dolls with five stripes in the colors of the Olympic rings for 3,300 yen (about $30) each, and modern items such as foldable tote bags with the games' design for 1,650 yen (about $15) each.

    A BBC reporter who purchased six items, including a "kokeshi" wooden doll of Olympics mascot Miraitowa for 8,800 yen (about $80), said that it was great to be able to buy them quickly while preventing infections by avoiding human contact.

    According to a sales representative, the vending machines were installed so that people can purchase items even when the shop is closed, and as a way to limit infections by having customers not directly deal with store clerks. However, as the vending machines occasionally beguile people, stickers were put on the floor to ensure they line up while maintaining social distance. The representative, who seemed busy responding to the issue, said, "We will keep urging them (to maintain social distance)."

    (Japanese original by Rei Kubo, Osaka Photo Group)

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