Japan has 5.5 million vending machines dotted throughout the cities and traditional residential streets. When I asked one Japanese man why there were so many, he shrugged his shoulders and said “it’s convenient”. Makes sense, but it’s something we don’t see often in Western cities. Even while holding onto so many anachronistic traditions, Japan instinctively embraces modernism in way that the West does not. For example, Western portrayals of robotics, AI and futurism tend to take on dystopian bent that results in the protagonists fighting for their lives against the machines. Think Blade Runner, Terminator, The Matrix, or Ex Machina. Japanese culture tends not to follow the same vein, and I think that this is reflected even in something as mundane as urban planning. Why shouldn’t there be robots in the family, neon lights outside a traditional woodworking shop, and a row of vending machines next to the Shinto shrine so that visitors can quench their thirst after paying their respects?