If you’re a foreigner living in Japan or visiting Japan as a tourist, you may see many vending machines everywhere.
When you think of vending machines, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?
Many of you may think, “Convenient machine to get soft drinks and snacks” , right?
Yes, we have many vending machines for soft drinks which help people satisfy their thirst while only paying about 100-160 yen for one drink. However, do you know that there are many other items you can buy by vending machines in Japan?
This article will show you the history of vending machines and interesting rare items you can get from vending machines in Japan.
1. When Were Vending Machines First Invented?
The amazing thing about vending machines is that the very first vending machine was created in Egypt about 2,500 years ago.
The purpose of this machine was to get water to pour on a plate by inserting a coin, which would turn the faucet on. This “vending machine” was located in front of the God statues at temples in Egypt, and people bought this water as Holy water from their dieties.
Following this amazing creation by Egyptians, other countries also started adapting the idea of vending machines, but with different uses.
In 1965, “Cigarette vending machines” were located in bars and hotels in England.
In 1988, Thomas Adams Gum Company located “Gum vending machines” at station platforms in New York.
In 1904, Mr. Koshichi Tawaraya invented “The selling post cards and stamps vending machine” by inserting the coins.
Unfortunately, this machine was not so useful at that time so didn’t become popular in Japan. However, Mr. Koichirou Nakayama invented “Snack vending machines” in 1924 and this became very popular and became popular vending machines in Japan.
2. Why are Vending Machines so Popular in Japan?
If you look around the streets of Japan, you can find soft drinks vending machines everywhere.
Why there are so many vending machines in Japan?
Some of the reasons are listed below.
1. It is very safe in Japan
This is the biggest point to be made is that people can leave vending machines everywhere in public.
You can find vending machines at places such as: station platforms, streets, parks, inside company buildings, parking areas, etc. If Japan is not safe enough, people would just break into the vending machines and steal the money inside. There are not really that serious of incidents in Japan, so people can always live close to vending machines in daily life.
2. Lifesaver for Businessmen
Quite a lot of Japanese people work late every day, and many people need break time while working.
If there are cafeterias in the company buildings, and people get served soft drinks or coffee in timely manner,
those circumstances are very great to have. However, it’s impossible for everyone to be in that kind of environment.
So, what if soft drink vending machines are close to the companies, or even inside the company buildings?
You can just put some coins to get warm or cold soft drinks whenever you want.
Some companies offer cheap prices like 80 yen-100 yen for one drink, so it’s easy on the wallet as well.
If you’re feeling exhausted from work and you don’t want to waste any time walking to convenience stores near your company building, don’t you think vending machines are much quicker and easier to use while on break?
3. People can Get Profits by Side Business
Not everyone can do this, but if an application is approved by vending machine companies to put a machine by your business, you can just pay an installation charge, and then you can get a share of the profits from that vending machine. Vending machine companies can make contracts with the owners of companies to allow them to install the vending machines on their property, or find the place they wish to install one.
This business is quite popular for those who want to have side business.
3.Unique Vending Machines You Can Only Find in Japan
Not only soft drinks, but you can find many interesting items being sold by vending machines in Japan.
If you have a chance to go to these areas, why not go take a look?
1. Banana Vending Machine in Tokyo
You can find this vending machine at Shibuya station underground, between the Hanzomon Line and the Tokyu Denentoshi Line.
The name of this vending machine is “BOBBY BANANA”, and this was installed for people who have a vitamin deficiency due to working too much every day, and don’t have enough time to eat or purchase fruit.
■ 1 Banana=130 yen
■ A bunch of bananas=390 yen
2. Crepe Vending Machine in Kagoshima
Do you like crepes? Good news, you can buy crepes from a vending machine in Tenmonkan!
There are commercial facilities called Takapula in Tenmonkan area, and you can find it near the airport shuttle bus stop area.
There are about 9 flavors that you can enjoy, made with fresh crepes all the time!
■All crepes=200 yen
3. Hamburger Vending Machine in Saitama
This vending machine is inside “Auto Restaurant Tekken Taro”, which located in Gyoda city in the Saitama Prefecture.
You need a car to get there, since it’s on the road of Route 17: Tokyo Special Ward to Gyoda city.
An interesting point is that this is a restaurant, and there is an owner, but all the food (including hamburgers) are sold by vending machines.
Who knew you could have a hot, juicy hamburger from a vending machine?
■Cheese burger=220 yen
4. Paper Diapers Vending Machines in Tokyo
You can find this one at Aeon Style Higashi Totsuka, near JR Higashi Totsuka station. This vending machine was placed due to two major Japanese companies’ cooperation, based on parents desires who are raising their children to have a vending machines that they can buy diapers one or two at a time on the go.
You can buy diapers in drug stores, but it usually contains around 100 diapers per package.
When parents are out to dinner or have no more diapers left, drug stores may be closed, but only need one or two diapers immediately, and this vending machine helps these parents in the case of an emergency.
■ 2 diapers set=200 yen
You can see how convenient it is to have so many vending machines (too many for you?) everywhere in Japan.
If you know little about the history of vending machines, you may see them differently when you find them in public.
Enjoy the convenience of all these vending machines in Japan!