Rural convenience store at anime holy site offers canned coffee and bittersweet romance from same machine.

The thing that makes Japanese convenience stores great is how they’re really like a compact grocery store, take-out restaurant, and general store all rolled into one. Particularly in rural communities where they might be the only shop in the neighborhood, they need to be stocked with everything someone could need, like food, toiletries, and in the case of one Nagano convenience store, even love.

On a visit to Lake Kizaki in the town of Omachi, Japanese Twitter user @matsujun5213 stopped at the local branch of the Y Shop convenience store chain. The store has a short row of vending machines in its parking lot, for customers who don’t want to bother coming in or arrive after the store is closed for the day. In addition to canned coffees, soups, and sodas, though, the machine also sells love letters.

▼ The button for love letters (LOVE レター) is on the top row, third from the right.

While this isn’t the only vending machine in Japan that offers love letters, it does have a unique distinction in that the letters are offered in the same machine alongside other more mundane products. The previous love letter vending machines we’ve seen have been capsule toy machines that sell love letters only, usually as part of a bank of other machines selling novelty goods. The Lake Kizaki Y Shop, though, just has them mixed in with the rest of its vending machine lineup, in case someone is craving both a lemon squash soda and a love letter.

The letters come rolled up with a sticker seal, making them look authentically like something someone might leave on your school desk or cafe table. They’re handwritten too, and unrolling his, @matsujun5213 found a surprisingly emotional message.

“How are you doing these days?

I never do anything for you, but you always give me all the selfish things I ask for. It feels like you’re always right by me, watching over me.

I’ve finally begun to feel happy where I am now, but I still think that I was happiest when we were together.

You did so much to make me happy, so I hope I can make you happy in the next life.

I hope we can both be happy until that time comes, and when it does, I hope you’ll be with me again.

So, for now, I’ll just say I’ll see you again someday.”

“They really put a lot of effort into this,” @matsujun5213 tweets about the bittersweet story he purchased for 300 yen (US$2.70)

▼ By the way, the view from the parking lot is quite nice.

While the concept of a love letter vending machine might seem like something you’d only find in Tokyo’s Akihabara or another otaku-oriented neighborhood, Omachi does have a sentimental anime connection, as the Lake Kizaki area served as the model for the setting of romantic comedy Please Teacher/Onegai Teacher. Though the anime TV series ended all the way back in 2002, the Lake Kizaki Y Shop still remembers the town’s five minutes of anime fame, and a corner of the store remains dedicated to Please Teacher and its sequel spin-off Please Twins.

The impetus for the love letter vending machine, though, isn’t necessarily anime-related. The store’s owner simply thought “Getting a love letter makes people happy, and I thought it’d be nice if we could give people that feeling,” and mentions that a workshop of writers composes them.

The Lake Kizaki Y Shop started selling the letters three years ago, and @matsujun5213 stopped by the store specifically to buy one. Unfortunately, on the day he arrived the machine was being repaired. When he went inside to ask about the letters, though, he was able to purchase one directly from the staff, showing that even when things look bleak, you should always believe in love.

Shop information
Y Shop / Yショップニシ
Address: Nagano-ken, Omachi-shi, Uminokuchi 12076

Source: Twitter/@matsujun5213, J-Town Net via Livedoor News via Otakomu
Images: Twitter/@matsujun5213
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