Readers of our site may be aware that Japan is home to vending machines  that sell a wide range of bizarre and unexpected products, from pornographic magazines to fresh eggs and even fermented soybeans (natto). Now, we’ve found yet another interesting vending machine that’s been featured in a story on Asahi Newspaper’s digital site which we thought would be interesting to share with you.

This machine in particular caught our attention because it combines the Japanese people’s fondness of vending machines with their love of a dish that is extremely popular in Japan. And what might that dish be? We’ll give you a hint — it’s golden brown in color and has a delightfully rich and spicy aroma that’s sure to make your mouth water…

Yes, it’s curry and rice from a vending machine! Here in Japan, we definitely love our curry, so much so that curry is often called one of Japan’s nationally beloved foods. Really, what could be better than a machine that instantly gives you a hot serving of ready to eat curry and rice?

Actually, as much as curry is loved in Japan, a curry vending machine is not common at all, which is why an article was written about it in the first place. And what’s even more amazing, this machine is no sophisticated piece of modern technology — it’s been in operation for about 30 years now!

The 30-year-old vending machine can be found in Donari-cho of Awa City in Tokushima Prefecture on the island of Shikoku, located just south of the main island of Honshu. More specifically, it’s located in an establishment called the “Coin Snack Palace 24”, where numerous vending machines are lined up selling products such as drinks and instant noodles.

All you have to do is insert 300 yen (US$3.00) into the machine, and you get a package of steaming white rice and a heated curry in a vacuum-sealed bag. You then simply cut open the bag of curry and pour it onto the rice, and voilà, you have a dish of curry rice! The machine is temperature regulated to maintain the rice and curry inside at a nice warm 70°C (158°F).

▼See the curry vending machine in action in the video below. You’ll also see an udon noodle vending machine at work as well.


Mr. Tadashi Yoshimoto, who operates the machine, actually personally grows the hinohikari brand rice used in the machine, and because the cooked rice starts to harden after a while, he takes care to replace the rice inside the machine up to several times a day.

Not surprisingly, the curry vending machine itself is no longer in production and neither are its parts, so if there’s anything wrong with it, it’s up to Yoshimoto to repair and maintain the machine in working order, even ordering specially-made parts when necessary.

According to Yoshimoto, the curry vending machine is now so rare that some people travel quite a distance to use it, coming from as far away as Tokyo, Osaka or the southern island of Kyushu. Although convenience stores have inevitably made business difficult for snack vending machines across Japan, Yoshimoto, who previously worked as a truck driver, comments in the article that he hopes the vending machines offer a bit of comfort to drivers traveling on the road.

So, that’s the story of the old but still running curry vending machine. Only in Japan, right? And the curry doesn’t look bad at all, especially for 300 yen. And to think the most interesting vending machine I’ve ever seen is a fresh banana vending machine (located in the middle of busy Shibuya station of all places)!

Well, here’s to all the crazy and fun vending machines out there. We certainly hope there’ll be more wacky and outrageous ones we can report to you on in the future!

Source: Asahi Shimubun Digital, YouTube