Japan is a lot of things. Land of high-tech cities and bullet trains, anime and geisha, sumo and sushi… it is also the land of vending machines.
It’s found in almost every street and according to the Japan Vending Machine Manufacturers Association (via japan-guide.com), there is one vending machine per an estimated 23 people. That’s a lot of vending machines if you consider that Japan has a population of over 127 million.
I started thinking of vending machines in Japan after seeing this video (below) in fellow blogger Genki Jason’s page on some very amusing finds on anything Japanese. While I saw the usual vending machines for all sorts of drinks (both hot and cold), canned soup, and even yakitori (not good at all though), there were still a lot I didn’t get to see–like the vending machine that dispenses ramen! And not the instant cup noodles variety.
The guy behind the videos has an entire channel devoted to different vending machines all over Japan. This video shows a machine that dispenses onigiri and hamburgers!
Vending machines are said to be found all over the cities and even in rural towns. The ones in the video below seem to be somewhere desolate and forgotten. And the machines look decrepit and abandoned, but turns out, they still work and get checked every day! And look what it dispenses:
It seems like in Japan, you can be in the middle of nowhere or walking home late at night in an empty street and there will be a vending machine beside you. Glowing.
Some of the places in the footage feels a bit isolated though. You don’t have to interact with anyone to get your drink or meal. I still find it a bit foreign…maybe because I come from the Philippines where buying a bottle of soda and chichirya (snack) can mean stopping by a sari-sari store (literally translates to “variety”) or the Pinoy’s humble version of a convenience store, which is constantly populated by people–from the tindera (vendor or store owner) to kids playing nearby to the tambays sitting by its benches shooting the breeze. It’s an integral part of the average Filipino community.
Vending machines offer convenience. Maybe someday it will offer conversations as well. (And if it’s in Japan, it’s never far off)