IN JAPAN, everything comes — and goes — in vending machines.
Insert coins (or a credit card) and buy soft drinks and beer, cigarettes and condoms, eggs and fresh flowers from the millions of vending machines that dot Japanese streets — and even hiking trails. On a sultry summer trip, I happily got an ice-cold Sapporo beer from a vending machine inside a trailside hut in the Japanese Alps.
Now the yen for automation has spilled into Japan's pet world. A pooch can be popped into a dog-washing machine at Joyful Honda, a Tokyo superstore, for a half-hour shampoo, rinse and blow dry. A rather subdued toy poodle was one of its early patrons, getting the full treatment for about $11 U.S. The dog-washing machine is the offspring of a Spanish company that envisages its "Washamatic-Kan" in vets' offices, gas stations, shopping malls — wherever people and their pooches are found.
Don't worry, there's no spin cycle