Vending machines are a quintessential part of Japanese culture. Japan takes them to a whole new level with its next-generation offerings. Beyond the usual drinks, you can now find fermented soybeans, stamps, salad dressing, and even canned bread in a vending machine.
We’ve compiled a list of unique vending machines you won’t want to miss.
To Each Their Own Vending Machine
Image credits: Canva.com
Natto is one of the beloved fermented foods by the Japanese population, eaten with soy sauce and mustard and poured over steaming hot rice.
Sendai Natto has been producing and selling natto in Yamanashi Prefecture since 1961, for over 50 years, in a region Nestled in the picturesque Kofu Basin, surrounded by stunning mountains like Fuji, the Southern Alps, Yatsugatake Mountains, and Okuchichibu.
The inspiration behind the natto vending machine was the desire of Sendai natto to make their delicious natto accessible to everyone, anytime. This led to the innovative idea of a vending machine selling fresh natto 24/7, 365 days a year.
Despite being a vending machine, they take great care to ensure the freshness of the products. Employees diligently check and replenish the machines daily, regulating temperature and inspecting them.
Though it demands effort, this approach enables them to reach people in distant areas without physical stores, allowing customers to conveniently pick up and savor their fresh natto at their own convenience.
Image credits: Canva.com
Found in multiple locations nationwide, cigarette vending machines in Japan differ from other machines in the purchase method. As a part of the initiatives to prevent underage smoking, since 2008, a special card called “Taspo” has been required to confirm you’re not a minor. With an aging population of smokers, these machines are often found in old hotels, pachinko parlors, and more retro areas, as opposed to trendy new locations.
Just managed to buy a pack but not sure where to smoke? Check out our guide to smoking in Japan.
In Japan, a hanko, or personal seal, holds significant importance as a substitute for signatures on various documents.
While acquiring one can be time-consuming and expensive in traditional shops, Don Quijote stores have made the process simpler and more affordable. Their hanko vending machines, discreetly placed in most shops, offer an array of options starting from ¥800.
Create your own personalized hanko easily by just pressing buttons on a screen. These hanko stamp vending machines at Don Quijote stores typically allow customers to select from a range of pre-made hanko designs, which may include popular names and characters.
Even if you are not planning to actually use it in Japan to sign any document, an hanko can also make a unique and meaningful souvenir. Discover the convenience of hanko vending machines at Don Quijote and find the full list of locations on their official website.
In the land of vending machine wonders, Japan’s ice cream vending machines stand out for their delightful offerings. Found all over the country, these machines provide a convenient way for people to savor a refreshing treat, especially during the scorching summers. Some even serve up soft-serve ice cream with an assortment of delectable toppings.
In particular, you can find Glico brand “Seventeen Ice” ice cream vending machines scattered around bigger cities, from timeless classics like vanilla and chocolate to unique and seasonal flavors, these ice cream vending machines boast an array of delectable choices.
Using these machines is a breeze—pick your desired flavor, pay with cash or electronic methods, and voilà! Your cup or cone of frozen bliss is ready to be savored on the move. Enjoy the cool delights of Japan’s ice cream vending machines and beat the heat in style!
In the mood for your neighborhood Italian restaurant’s special salad? But too lazy to go? Well, the staff of the Italian restaurant “Il Chianti” has definitely thought about this possible scenario.
“Il Chianti” started its activity around the area of Sasazuka in Setagaya in the early seventies and expanded considerably up until today, boasting 18 restaurants all around the country.
In the proximity of some of the restaurants, il Chianti has installed some vending machines selling some of the popular dishes available at the restaurant as well as the original salad dressing that has been buzzing on social networks in 2021.
Inokashira Park in Kichijoji has an exciting selection of rare vending machines around its center.
One of the all-time favorites and most loved by tourists for its weirdness is the iconic “canned bread” vending machine that has served customers for years.
Offering Pan Akimoto’s luxury canned bread for 550 yen per can, this unique treat is worth the price. The bread’s special manufacturing process allows it to maintain its delicious taste and softness for an impressive 37 months.
Yokai Express is a renowned Japanese cuisine restaurant and delivery service specializing in various authentic dishes born in the USA.
The name “Yokai” refers to mythical creatures from Japanese folklore, adding a touch of enchantment to the dining experience. With a focus on delivering delicious and convenient meals, Yokai Express has created the most successful ramen vending machines outside of Japan, and recently it has brought them back to where everything started. In various locations around Tokyo, you can enjoy a bowl of ramen made in 90 seconds with quality and deliciousness almost identical to a ramen shop.
Explore the World of Japanese Vending Machines: Cool Delights and Unique Experiences in 2023!
From old-school ice cream vending machines to futuristic culinary experiences, Japan can make pretty much anything into a vending machine. And we are excited to see how much the limits will be pushed in the future of Japanese vending machines.
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