We’ll give you a hint: this vending machine will provide you divine protection while on the go.

A characteristic feature of the Japanese landscape, whether urban or rural, is the omnipresent light of the vending machine. While your average vending machine sells hot or cold drinks, we’re happily familiar with the vending machines that go above and beyond the call of duty, selling disposable diapers or mystery snacks for the hungry, wandering soul.

But if by any chance your soul needs, dare we say, an extra edge of enlightenment, then look no further than this vending machine in Kyoto which sells Buddhist figurines and protection charms.

Located near Kouryuji, one of the oldest temples in Kyoto, the vending machine is on the platform of Uzumasa-Kouryuji Station. Our Japanese-language reporter, Great Muromachi, trekked out to hunt down the spot of this mysterious vending machine.

▼ At the platform bound for popular tourist destination Arashiyama…

▼ …we pass a quaint shop with nothing to see.

▼ “Regional Speciality — Buddhist Statue, Protection Charms, and Fortune Vending Machine”

If there was a vending machine to represent Kyoto, it’d no doubt be this one, thought our reporter. As Kyoto is home for over 1,600 temples, maybe it would be more surprising if there wasn’t such a vending machine.

Great Muromachi decided to closely study the machine, seeing if he can find anything hinting at its history.

▼ I’d probably need to ask grandma or grandpa about which Buddhist figure this should be.

The machine also sells omamori and omikuji, respectively protection charms and fortunes travelers can purchase from temples for a small fee. Scanning the machine, Great Muromachi also found some text underneath the rows of buttons explaining more about the background of the vending machine.

▼ (Translation below)

“The history of this vending machine goes back to the last century. Back then, I was renting a house inside the train station, and from my window I would stare at the trains while grinning.

Inside that house was an old tobacco vending machine, so I thought about selling tobacco. But because smoking is bad for the body, I decided to not sell it.

After deliberating what I should sell, I decided to offer something that could give good fortune to others through the vending machine.

I hope through this machine, I can deepen everyone’s interest in this town’s ancient history.
From the owner”

Touched by the tender feelings of the vending machine’s owner, temptation also struck the Great Muromachi as his gaze into the machine deepened. His eyes fell on a particular statue of what appeared to be a feminine figure riding on top a dragon.

The want was great… but is it really worth 1000 yen? (US$10) Our Japanese-language reporter was struck into an internal battle of the decade: to impulse buy or to not impulse buy?

▼ Impulse buying, in the end, gets the best of us all.

Upon closer inspection, Great Muromachi’s pick was the equivalent of the Madonna among Japanese Buddhist figures: Kannon, the Bodhisattva of mercy. Perched on the back of a dragon, the statue is a reference to her additional duties as a patroness of fishermen.

▼ A comparison between the figure and a painting of the goddess. Not a bad rendition!

▼ Great Muromachi decided to carry this mini-Kannon with him as a traffic safety charm in his jacket.

Regardless of your personal faith, we definitely recommend checking out this hidden power spot in Kyoto. And if you want an extra blessing, be sure to visit this graffiti temple in Kyoto where visitors are encouraged to mark the walls.

Photos: ©SoraNews24
Insert image: Wikimedia Commons/The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo
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