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The coin passed straight through the chute and rattled in the coin catch. My laundry mission had hit a snag.

I was in a Japanese Laundromat where everything seemed to be unattended and entirely automatic. LED lights spiralled the doors of the washing machines, bringing to mind Las Vegas and slot machines. Large cartoonish instruction charts hung on the wall, with professional-looking English translations. Those translations still managed to omit important details like which buttons to actually push and when.

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