A vending machine for almost everything

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)


11 thoughts on “A vending machine for almost everything

  1. Nice piece. 1 vending machine for every 23 people? べんり です ね! 

    Japan must be one of the few places on earth where you can place a vending machine in the middle of nowhere and it still works. Thankfully people are tracking them down and putting videos up on the internet.

      • The direct translation of those characters is benri desu ne! Convenient, isn’t it.

        I never use vending machines but after reading this post and watching some of those videos I have the sudden urge to try a few out when I get to Japan. One of us is going to have to track down some of these down and post about it. 😉

  2. I did a post some time ago and I learned a lot about Japanese vending machines but I had no idea they has so many per person. I know you can buy almost anything from a vending machine – food is just a small portion. Great post Mabel. I’m also sending you an email.

    • Thanks, Tom! I didn’t get to see a lot of non-food vending machines back then, just the ones dispensing gachapons or capsule toys in Akihabara. Should look for more kinds of machines the next time 🙂 I’ll check for your email.

  3. Pingback: Where people worship « slouching somewhere

  4. Best story about Japanese vending machines! I’m just worried that not every item will be as tasty as some people may hope it is.

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