All Categories


You are here : Home>News

The "Vending Machine Life:" An Olympic Journey of a Japanese Staple and One Too-Many-Purchases

Time: 2021-07-28

The "Vending Machine Life:" An Olympic Journey of a Japanese Staple and One Too-Many-Purchases

In Japan, there are vending machines stationed inside buildings and outside buildings. They’re tucked into alleyways, located at train stations, stationed next to restaurants, even part of actual restaurants for overflow crowds. They sell basically everything. As in, literally everything.


For food: fermented soybeans known as natto that may be slimy but provide a breakfast laden with nutrients; dashi, or stock rich in umami, made from dried kelp and bonito; grilled ago, or flying fish, meaning an actual fish, dead and stuffed into a bottle; hamburgers; popcorn; soup made from corn or red adzuki beans; chicken skewers; canned bread; Himalayan salt; meat sauce; snails; fish cakes; jars of jam; fresh bananas; apple slices, with or without skin, complete with packets of honey; even allegedly fresh lettuce.

For drinks, some machines feature dozens of varieties of water from all over the country, a nod to Japan’s fierce attention to detail. Others peddle sake shots, with so many varieties that groups could huddle around them and create their own tasting menu. Still others sell milk, along with hot and cold versions of coffee or lattes. One machine even deploys a multilingual artificial intelligence concierge that recommends drinks based on facial recognition, gauging things like age and gender, and answers questions when asked.

That’s not even the weird stuff. Some machines sell what are called “alternative snacks,” the name indicative of the crunchy scorpion or cricket energy bars inside. Others have hachinoko, or bee larvae, grasshoppers and spicy concoctions known as “devil king of death.”

Many of the machines don’t even unload food, trafficking instead everything from plastic beetles to scented candles to train models to T-shirts to T-shirt/original spice combos. Not to mention vinyl umbrellas in case of rain, portable video game consoles, smartphones, photos of idol bands, Pokémon cards, flowers, flashlights, children’s toys and coin cases. Some feature what’s called a hanko, or a seal that’s like a signature in the U.S. and can be used to make documents official. There’s even one so-called “mystery machine” that sells only boxes wrapped in white paper, so that purchasers do not know what’s actually inside—the equivalent of vending machine gambling. Stranger still: some sell women’s phone numbers; others women’s underwear, described as “used,” but actually manufactured to look that way.

There are reasons for all this, and they stretch beyond the more obvious notion that people all over the world like to buy, eat, wear and collect wildly different things. One list, from a Live Japan story, laid out five reasons for the ubiquity and variety: convenience, for a country that’s infamous for long work hours; safety, in that incidences of vandalism or theft are almost nonexistent; low, fair prices; and minor barriers to entry, in that any citizen can own one machine or another and they require little maintenance or staff costs.

We are specialized in industrial keypad for vending machine. If you have any interests please feel free to contact me~

Alice Han

sales manager

Add: No. 21 Middle Road Guoxiang Bridge Lanjiang Street Yuyao Zhejiang 315400 

Tel: +86-574-22707966 / Cell: +8613858293721

Email: sales02@yyxlong.com / 3004537440@qq.com.

Skype: +8613858293721

WhatsApp: 13858293721