On my trip to Japan, I was amazed by the sheer number of vending machines dotting the landscape of this beautiful nation. These machines give a quick and hassle-free method to purchase a range of items, from beverages to food and other essential goods.
These vending machines save your from having to stand in line or interact with a vendor. How convenient! And to my surprise, their offerings extend far beyond the typical snacks and cold drinks.
In this article, I'll share some of the unique vending machines that caught my eye in Japan. Stay with me till the end to discover them all!
These are the most common vending machines and can be spotted almost everywhere in Japanese cities. From streets, train stations, tourist sites, and more, they're everywhere.
These machines stock a variety of beverages, including mineral water, green tea, coffee, juice, and energy drinks. Hence, when my husband and I felt thirsty, we didn’t have to search for a store; a vending machine was always nearby.
We particularly enjoyed the green tea and vitamin C drinks to boost our immunity during our stay. If you want to know how to make purchases from these machines, please refer to the article linked below:
Another delightful discovery was the ice cream vending machine. These machines are located in various spots, from train stations and parks to shopping malls and tourist destinations. I came across a Lotte Haagen-Dazs machine in Kinkaku-Ji, Kyoto. Plus, I spotted the famed Seventeen Ice Cream and Glico brands at a train station.
These machines have many different flavors, from classic vanilla and matcha to unique Japanese flavors like red bean. The ice cream comes in different shapes, from traditional cones to sandwiches. So, if you're coming to Japan, tasting ice cream from these machines is a must!
For all you coffee lovers out there, this one's for you! I found a vending machine that sells coffee! It was located at Shin-Osaka station while I was on my way to Fukuoka using Shinkansen.
What's fascinating is that this machine serves a variety of coffee types, from a simple black coffee to lattes and cappuccinos.
Moreover, you can customize your drink by selecting the cup size, desired toppings, and sugar level. Thus, each cup caters to individual preferences. I can vouch for the delicious taste, and prices starting at just 300 yen make it a steal, especially compared to high-end coffee shops.
Among my discoveries, the baby diaper vending machine stands out as the most unique. While food and drink vending machines are common, one that sells diapers is a true innovation.
Based on a report by The Nation Thailand, beverage company Dydo Drinco teamed up with diaper manufacturer Daio Paper Corp. to introduce these specialized vending machines at stations and other commercial venues.
This innovation is really beneficial for every parent on the move. A common issue faced by traveling parents is the need to buy just a few diapers when they're running low.
Typically, diapers are sold in large packs. Hence, these machines, offering smaller quantities, fill a significant gap. Moreover, with 24-hour operations, they offer unmatched convenience for parents.
Lastly, cigarette vending machines are common throughout Japan. These machines have got a wide variety of cigarette brands, both local and imported. Packs are priced starting at 500 yen.
However, be mindful of Japan's stringent tobacco regulations. Only individuals aged 20 and above can purchase cigarettes, and smoking is restricted to designated zones. Always stick to these rules while in Japan!
Another vending machine that caught my attention in Japan is the "Purikura." It's similar to what we might call a photo booth in other places.
These machines are as simple to use as others: you pay, then follow the on-screen instructions to take your photos. While in Japan, I noticed these photo booths everywhere - near stations, along roadsides, and in many popular areas. Why so many?
Purikura isn't just for snapping a quick picture. It's a way for people to express themselves. With all the different filters and stickers to choose from, users can really show off their creative side.
Many also dress up or wear costumes for their photo sessions. This could be why you often find Purikura booths near clothing and accessory stores.
But these booths aren't just for fun. They also serve a practical purpose. People use them to take photos for important documents like ID cards, driver's licenses, and job applications. This makes the photo booths a go-to spot when you need a photo easily.
Last but not the least was the bento vending machine that I found in Hakata station, Fukuoka.
Bento" in Japanese refers to a boxed meal, typically with rice, side dishes, and vegetables. But in this particular machine, I noticed it mainly offered side dishes without rice – a bit like choosing individual menu items, if you will.
What's impressive is that these machines run all day and night. This makes them perfect for those working late, those in a rush, or anyone on the move during odd hours.
What's more interesting is that food here isn't like plain or bland. In many locations, the bento dishes are freshly supplied by nearby restaurants or kitchens, even twice a day in some places! This shows that in Japan, vending machines prioritize both convenience and the quality of food.
For visitors to Japan, trying a fresh meal from a vending machine is certainly a different and enjoyable experience. Simply pick your preferred bento, pay up, and savor your meal on the go!