[2019 Edition] 5 Interesting Vending Machines You Can Find in Japan
Japan has an extremely high number of vending machines. There is an extensive variety of items sold in them, including not just drinks but also food and daily essentials as well. This article introduces 5 particularly interesting vending machines that you'll want to check out.
1. Drink and Compare Japanese Sake
Sake is a traditional Japanese rice wine with many different varieties all around the country, which is why vending machines for tasting and comparing sake are a great hit. The vending machines in Ponshu-kan, a tourist facility in JR Echigo-Yuzawa and Niigata Stations in Niigata Prefecture, are particularly famous. The machines are stocked with the signature labels of more than 90 breweries across the prefecture. You can try an ochoko (small ceramic cup) full of sake from one label with each chip that you purchase at the reception. The chip is 500 JPY for 5 (some of the labels require two or more). Sake-tasting vending machines are available elsewhere, such as in Tokyo Shoten near JR Ryogoku Station.
2. Apples - Easily Supplement Yourself With Vitamins
This vending machine is popular for the convenience of snacking on juicy apples. A special process using Vitamin C prevents the apples from discoloration, so they'll last up to 11 days. Each bag has four bite-size apple pieces, with a choice between skin-on and peeled (around 200 JPY). There are also apple packages that come with honey and seasonal fruits available for a limited time. The vending machines can be found in Haneda Airport, Itami Airport, Ikebukuro and Ginza Stations on the Tokyo Metro, and Hankyu Umeda Station in Osaka.
3. Dashi - An Indispensible Ingredient in Japanese Food Culture
There are also vending machines for dashi (broth), which is used in everything from miso soup to simmered dishes in Japanese cuisine. The bottle looks like a drink bottle, but if you look closely, you'll see that there is a whole grilled ago (flying fish) in it. It is a product called Dashi Douraku with Grilled Ago (700 JPY and up for 500ml) that consists primarily of soy sauce-based dashi made from ago. It is characterized by a delicate and light sweetness and umami (Japanese savory taste) and goes well in hot pot dishes and other foods. The vending machine can be found in front of Mitsui Repark parking lots around the country among other places.
4. Curry - Perfect for Those Midnight Cravings
This is a curry vending machine in Asakusa, Tokyo, next to Curry Land, a shop specializing in ready-made curries. The machine is stocked with a total of 15 different types of ready-made curries from around Japan, such as dried sweet potato curry from Ibaraki Prefecture, mushroom curry from Kumamoto Prefecture, and scallop curry from Hokkaido. When one product runs out, it is replaced with another product, so the line-up of products available changes daily. The prices vary by product, but most are between 300 JPY and 700 JPY.
5. Make a Hanko Seal
Hanko (seals) in Japan are used similarly to signatures in the West. Hanko are required on documents in a variety of public situations, and are an indispensable item for Japanese people. There is a vending machine from which you can get this hanko created (500 JPY and up). All you need to do to get a hanko made is to choose the material and font following the instructions on the screen. Some machines can even be operated in English. Why not get an original hanko as a souvenir? The machine can be found at branches of the famous discount store chain, Don Quijote, among other places.
There are many other interesting vending machines, including some that sell bananas, shampoo, and bicycle tire tubes. If you see a vending machine while walking around, be sure to check what's inside!
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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