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What Is The Big Deal About Vending Machines In Japan?

Millions of machines across the country are ready to provide you with whatever you need whenever you need it!

Set of Pikachu-themed Vending machines in Japan
Pikachu-themed Vending Machines

Even if you’ve never been to Japan, you may have heard that they have vending machines everywhere, amiright?

You’ve probably seen and used a vending machine at least once, so you know they are efficient. But Japan takes the vending machine culture to a whole new level!

I often come across curious and interesting Japanese vending machines, and I’ll share some in this post. These machines show how far Japan’s love for the device goes.

The Phenomenon of Vending Machines in Japan

Vending Machines for ice cream and snacks in Japan
Vending Machines for Ice cream and snacks

Vending machines are convenient devices for small purchases. It’s a faster and easier way to grab a snack or drink without waiting in line to pay with the cashier or even interacting with one.

But in Japan, vending machine options go way beyond snacks and drinks. The country has over 4 million machines; about half sell hot and cold drinks and food. The variety of products never ceases to surprise me, from snacks and ice cream to Ramen and even caviar.

However, what amazes me the most are the non-edible products! You’ll find vending machines that offer umbrellas, toys, souvenirs, and surgical masks, among others. There are even some very unusual products.

Gyoza vending machine
Prices are generally very attractive!

The vending machine concept works so well in Japan due to the long working hours, culture, and the people’s non-confrontational tendency. Plus, the country is so safe that you can place machines anywhere. The chances of it being damaged are low.

With relatively low maintenance costs, high profits, and uninterrupted operation, vending machines can easily reach more places and buyers than stores. Some can even provide free water and other vital items during emergencies or disasters.

They are an essential part of the Japanese lifestyle.

Weird Vending Machines in Japan

Super rare 10 yen vending machine
Rare 10-yen Vending Machine

The number of vending machines in Japan has decreased for the past few years due to technological and demographic developments. Even the number of Konbinis (convenience stores) is a problem in some areas.

To counter that, some vending machines have become very innovative. For example, using AI to sell personalized makeup, checking social media to suggest the snack that best suits a person’s taste, and more!

However, high-tech devices are exactly what people expect from Japan. One fun activity for curious tourists is to travel around the country looking for machines that sell the most unique items!

You’d be surprised with everything you can get from vending machines.

Weird bug vending machine in Japan
Vending Machine selling edible bugs

You can find machines that sell even more unusual items with a good look! And I don’t mean things like canned cakes, seafood, or birth control.

Some vending machines in Japan sell edible crickets, beetles, and mysterious boxes with weird short stories. For example, in Akihabara, there is a horror vending machine corner where odd-looking machines carry such strange items!

Another type of weird vending machine tourists look for is the one that sells underwear. However, they are harder to find and restricted to specific places due to issues with minors selling their clothing.

Interesting, isn’t it?

How often do you use vending machines? Would you like your area to have more of them like in Japan? Or do you prefer going to a store and having human contact occasionally?

The love for vending machines is another fascinating aspect of Japanese culture that every otaku should know.

Feel free to send me your topic suggestions for the next post through my socials or join the Otaku Community! And check the related posts below for more exciting things about Japan and anime.

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