The legend exists at the intersection of sex and technology in a country known in the west for weird pornography and Sony. The vast majority of these machines, about 2. The term, like so many others in the Japanese language, comes from the combination of two onomatopoeic words: gacha , the sound the crank makes, and pon , the sound the capsule makes when it lands at the bottom of the machine. Take the following photo, advertising used OL office lady panties, for example:. Kakou, in this case, means that the panties were manufactured to appear used — kind of like the Abercrombie jeans that are sold with holes and frayed edges straight from the factory.
The addition of those two kanji characters makes it instantly apparent to a native speaker that the panties are not, in fact, used.
Perhaps an enterprising gachapon machine salesperson realized that they could trick non-Japanese into believing the urban legend by slapping a single English word on the sign. After snaking through a maze of adult videos, vibrators, and sex dolls some lifelike, some more like giant anime characters , I found myself on the sixth floor of the gargantuan sex shop that, according to my German acquaintance on the street, had a real used panty vending machine.
I wondered if he got lost on his way to the coffee shop and ended up selling sex toys instead of lattes. At some point in the past six months, management had made the decision to move the machine to the basement — but it had already done its job of perpetuating the myth to the foreign visitors who managed to catch a glimpse. Did the real thing ever exist? Some shops around here sold used panties — not necessarily in vending machines — but the police cracked down on them.
Sometimes girls with fake IDs would try to sell panties or used school uniforms, so the police told the shops to be careful. Japan lags behind other countries when it comes to cracking down on sexualized images of children. The new law exempts sexually explicit depictions of children in anime, manga, and videogames — for fear that banning such material would violate the constitutional right to free speech.
Those in possession of real kiddie porn have even been given a one-year grace period to discard it before the law starts being enforced.
If found guilty after that, they face a maximum of one year in prison — a slap on the wrist compared to sentences in the US, where the same offense carries a minimum of five years behind bars. In the case of soiled schoolgirl skivvies, enforcement is up to local authorities. Neither violation carries jail time. According to Tokyo Reporter , businesses dealing with joshi kosei highschool girl items — used panties, socks, and school uniforms — have taken a heavy hit in recent months due to the struggling economy and intensifying police scrutiny.
With the upcoming Tokyo Olympics, one can expect or at least hope that the Japanese police will crack down on the illegal sale of dirty panties or risk soiling its largely positive image abroad.
Like many other commodities, their distribution has moved online. One site, based in Osaka, offers photo profiles — like some kind of perverted social network — complete with the purported age, occupation, and measurements of each woman who is selling her undergarments.
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Free daily newsletter featuring stories curated by our editors, delivered directly to you. Featured Stories J. Down in the basement After snaking through a maze of adult videos, vibrators, and sex dolls some lifelike, some more like giant anime characters , I found myself on the sixth floor of the gargantuan sex shop that, according to my German acquaintance on the street, had a real used panty vending machine.
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