Eiji Ohashi: Roadside Lights Seasons: Winter

January 4, 2021

I know I should stay all professional and analytical as I write my book reviews.  But I’ve got to say out loud, I just *love* this book and I am so glad to add it to my bookshelf!

It’s a bit odd that a book about vending machines in the winter in Japan can bring me so much emotional joy, but it just does.   Every time I flip through the pages, I have a range of emotions surface from melancholy and loneliness, to hope, comfort and persistence. 

The vending machines sit alone, in the dead of winter, with no people in sight, and yet the humanity is there.   The lights and products inside the machines speak to a level of care.  Someone maintains these machines, so they can provide at all times.  The machines may seem lonely, but they are also a constant and comfort.  Always available and at the ready. 

The landscape settings vary from the majestic to the gritty, but the vending machines are like a common character that visits and explores the country.   And I appreciate the dedication the photographer has had in traversing deep snow and cold nights to capture these images.

Photographer Eiji Ohashi made images of vending machines for more than twelve years for this project.  “In my experience of having traveled abroad, there are very few places outside of Japan where vending machines stand along roadsides in such a matter-of-fact way.  I believe this speaks, at least a little, of the country’s general safety and the Japanese people’s desire for convenience.”

The accordion fold book comes beautifully printed and in a slipcase for protection.  It sells for $106 plus shipping from Japan where you can choose one of four covers.