Have you ever been to Japan before? The Japanese have vending machines for basically anything. There are around 5.5 million vending machines in Japan. That is one vending machine for every 23 people in Japan. Japanese use vending machines for basically selling everything. It has become a part of Japanese culture as a whole. Due to the high density and high real-estate prices in Japan, vending machines are the best way out for companies to supply their customers with the products they need. With vending machines, companies do not have to invest so much in a place for a store and could still be super close to their consumers. The Japanese had been making good use of it since the 1950s and have developed some really interesting and unique ones up to this day.
We will be sharing some Japan vending machines facts along with some of the most fascinating kinds of vending machines that you can find. You might find some Japanese vending machines weird and unnecessary. However, you will still want to know both the weird and fun ones. After reading about some Japan vending machines facts, you will definitely want to make your visit to Japan anytime soon to experience all these in person.
Japan Food Vending Machines
Food vending machines are the most common ones in Japan and all around the world. However, you might get shocked to know that the Japanese have vending machines for basically every food they have. You can even find some vending machines selling bizarre food.
1. Japan Drinks Vending Machine
Starting off with the basic vending machine type you can find not only in Japan, but anywhere else in the world. However, Japanese manage to make theirs look a little different and more original. You can find these drink vending machines everywhere, especially in places that people often pass by. In terminals or stations, you can buy all sorts of drinks from vending machines before you hop on your trains or bus.
2. Ice Cream Vending Machine
The perfect vending machine for the summer weather. In Japan, you can find vending machines filled with various flavors of ice cream. This is something not common in the rest of the world, but you can find this kind of vending machine easily in so many places. There are apparently 27,000 of them all across Japan. In Japan, they are known as the seventeen ice cream vending machines. The one located in Shinagawa Aqua Park generates the most sales compared to the rest. Since it is uncommon outside Japan, these vending machines are very popular among tourists and foreigners. It works in several different languages which makes it easier for foreigners to purchase.
3. Japan Cup Noodles Vending Machine
Another unique vending machine you can find in Japan is the cup ramen vending machine. You might have heard about the cup ramen museum in Japan, but Japan also has a cup ramen vending machine for you. It is not a vending machine that you can find easily on the streets, but you can find them in places that people will spend a longer time in such as: capsule hotels, 24 hour manga cafe, or internet cafe. Every cup ramen vending machine comes with a special place for you to get hot water too so you can cook, and enjoy it on the spot.
4. Egg Vending Machine
One of the vending machines you can only find in Japan is the egg vending machine. Can you believe that you can buy eggs from a vending machine? You can absolutely do so in Japan. You can easily find them in farming areas. The fresh eggs were harvested, placed in the locker-like vending machine, and you can buy it straight from there. Apparently, these fresh eggs do not require refrigeration and could last up to two weeks. Thus, it is possible to have them sold in vending machines. Buying an egg could never get more exciting than this.
5. Hot Food Vending Machine
When you are in a hurry, the hot food vending machine will be your go to. Japan offers the so-called 24 hour hot menu vending machine. When you are late for dinner or in a hurry, you can always have access to hot food at any time of the day. The concept of this vending machine is to store frozen foods and have them cooked inside the vending machine. This is definitely something that you can find easily outside Japan.
6. Ramen Vending Machine
Ramen is Japan’s must-try dish. Now, you can have them from a vending machine. This ramen vending machine is relatively new. The Japanese find it necessary to have it especially after the recent pandemic. Before coronavirus, ramen restaurants open until wee hours making ramen fans who have irregular work hours could still eat them. However, after coronavirus, these ramen restaurants are forced to close early. Thus, they decided to set up these ramen vending machines so that all ramens could still have them at any time of the day. It comes in a pack of pre-cooked ramen kits so you can heat them up at home. You can get restaurant-style ramen at home. It will taste as if it is delivered to your doorstep or even better
7. Japan Vegetable Vending Machine
The vegetable vending machine is one of the vending machines you can only find in Japan. You can easily find these vending machines in the residential and rural areas of Japan. When you need to do some groceries, you don’t have to go far to the mart and make a long queue to pay for your fresh vegetables. You can just go to the nearest vegetable vending machine and make a quick purchase.
8. Grilled Meat Vending Machine
Japan has some of the most unique vending machines you never thought you would ever need. One of them is this grilled meat vending machine. This type of vending machine started to get popular during the pandemic. In order to keep the virus from spreading, restaurants were closed for some period of time. These vending machines are used to keep up with the lost income during this challenging season. Even if the restaurants are closed, people could still purchase their meals using a vending machine. This meat has been well seasoned so you just need to cook it yourself at home.
9. Dashi Vending Machine
One of the weird vending machines in Japan would be the dashi vending machine. You might mistook this one for the ordinary drink vending machine. Dashi is the basic stock that Japanese use in their cooking. It comes in cans or bottles, thus it might come out just like a drink. Since most people in Japan use this for cooking, they sell it in vending machines for easy access to the product.
10. Curry Vending Machine
Japanese people love their curry so much that they have it in vending machines. This is another type of hot food vending machine that provides you with different kinds of curry dishes. Apparently, these curry vending machines have been around for at least 30 years. These days, the technology has been improving and will allow them to serve better quality curry and rice for all.
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11. Gyoza Vending Machine
Just when you think a curry vending machine is already out of this world, wait until you see these gyoza vending machines. Gyoza is a traditional Japanese dumpling that has been a favorite of many people. These gyoza vending machines have been around for several years now. However, the recent coronavirus situation has forced gyoza producers to step up their vending machine game. By selling their gyoza using vending machines, they could make up for the decreasing income when their restaurants are forced to decrease operation hours or suspend all operations.
12. Rare Sake Vending Machine
Aside from the liquor vending machines, you can also find sake vending machines. These vending machines even sell the rare sake for you. Sake is a Japanese traditional alcoholic beverage made from fermented rice. If you are a big fan of sake, you might want to visit the Ponshukan Sake Museum. There is an extensive sake vending machine which allows you to taste different kinds of sake.
13. Bread In Can Vending Machine
In Japanese vending machines, you can find not only canned drinks, but also canned bread. Selling bread in vending machines might be risky. The machines might have flattened the bread along the whole process. Thus, the Japanese have figured out a way to prevent this by putting it inside a can. Don’t forget to find these bread in can vending machines on your next visit to Japan.
14. Edible Insects Vending Machine
You can also find some weird vending machines in Japan. One of them is this edible insect vending machine. It is not super common to find in Japan, but they have started appearing in many places. Insects have been popular recently as an alternative source of protein in dealing with food shortages. Thus, a young entrepreneur in Japan started this edible insect vending machine with the hopes that people will take notice and decide to try it out for themselves or buy it as souvenirs. There are different varieties of insects and some come with flavors such as salty or chocolate flavor.
Japan Non-Food Vending Machines
Japan also sells unique non-food things on their vending machines. The Japanese are all super busy so these non-food vending machines will be their go to for shopping. We will cover some of the most unique non-food items cold in Japan vending machines.
15. Flower Vending Machine
When you don’t have time to order some flowers as gifts, you can buy them on the go through these vending machines. The flowers are already wrapped nicely into bouquets. It is super easy and fast, perfect for the busy people in Japan. Before a date, don’t forget to buy some flowers from these vending machines.
16. Tobacco Vending Machine
Not only alcohol, you can also find tobacco or cigarette vending machines in Japan too. There are around 570,000 cigarette vending machines all across Japan. Ever since 2008, the Japanese government has set up rules to prevent minors from purchasing them. The government requires “Taspo” for cigarette purchases in vending machines. You can only issue a Taspo card if you have reached the legal age of 20 years old and have a Japan address. Thus, not only minors can’t purchase them, but also foreigners.
17. Japan Film Camera Vending Machine
If you forget to bring your camera on your trip to Japan, you don’t need to worry. You can find these vending machines which sell some disposable film cameras. So, you can still take nice pictures of your trip in Japan. Brands like Fujifilm and Kodak have set up their own vending machines around the city that sell these film cameras.
18. Pokemon Vending Machine
As the homeland of Pokemon, Japan also has some of the best Pokemon vending machines in the world. Just like this one that you can find in Haneda airport, you can get a special edition Pokemon merch before hopping on a plane home. These vending machines are fully digitalized. Each merch also comes with special packaging that is only available on these vending machines. Definitely a must have collectibles for all the Pokemon fans out there.
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19. Japan Buddhist Amulet Vending Machine
Another funny Japanese vending machine that you can only find in Japan is the Buddhist amulet vending machine. You can find it on the streets and also near the temples. These vending machines will save you a trip to the temple for obtaining a Buddhist amulet. Just find these vending machines on the street and you can have your amulet with you at any time of the day.
20. Mystery Vending Machine
Last but not least is the mystery vending machines. When you think vending machines in Japan can’t get any weirder and more interesting, you will find this mystery vending machine. You basically won’t know what you will get from this one. They will put up all the pictures of the items that you might get on the vending machine. Since vending machines are part of the culture, this one feels like a little game and attraction for some extra fun. You will find tons of Japanese vending machines weird and unnecessary like this one, but this is where the charm of Japanese vending machines lies.
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What is so special about Japanese vending machines?
Japanese vending machines are special because you can get all the things you might not expect to get from a vending machine. Vending machines are effective for sales. They are fast, low cost, and easily accessible. Japan is one step ahead compared to the rest of the world in terms of vending machines. They have the best technology that allows them to sell basically anything using a vending machine.
How much do Japanese vending machines make?
One Japanese vending machine could make around $300 per month. If it is located in a strategic location, it could make up to $3750 per month. Looking at the profit you can make, owning one or two vending machines would be a great source of passive income for you.
What are the most popular vending machines in Japan?
Drinks are the most popular items sold in vending machines. It ranges from juices to coffee to alcohol. Snacks would be another popular item sold in vending machines. They are popular because it gives people easier access to buying small snacks and drinks especially during commutes.
What are some weird vending machines in Japan?
Snack and drinks vending machines are too ordinary for Japan. In Japan, you can find vending machines that sell vegetables, Buddhist amulets, umbrellas, and even real life puppies. You can basically buy anything you want and need from wedding machines.
How do Japanese vending machines work?
Just like any other vending machine you could find anywhere else, you need to make a payment first before choosing what you want to buy. Most vending machines in Japan still accept cash and some also accept payment with transportation cards too.