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I recently saw a newspaper vending machine, which is also very different from the ones I see in America. Japan always has vending machines for the most unexpected things.
They're pretty common. They're often found in front of older electrical appliance shops. Interestingly, many of them only sell non-alkaline batteries (which are cheaper). I suppose that it is because they are generally better for using in things like gas ranges and flashlights. Until convenience stores became ubiquitous, they were some of the only places you could buy batteries at night. Another place I used to check for batteries back in the day (at night) was gas stations. :-)
Wow that's pretty unique. I've never seen that either. I love that the brand is National. I don't remember them as a battery maker..