Local landmark lets you quench your thirst and satisfy your curiosity with just one of Japan’s cheapest vending machine-usable coins.

The streets of Japan are lined with vending machines, each stocked with an array of drinks including colas, coffee, and tea. But while there’s plenty of variety in the beverages, pricing is pretty standard. Full-sized drinks usually end up in the 120 to 150 yen (US$1.10-$1.35), while smaller-sized drinks tend to cost between 80 and 120 yen.

But if you’re looking for the ultimate in vending machine value, you’ll want to head to Osaka’s Fukushima Ward, where there’s a vending machine that sells drinks for just 10 yen (US$0.09) each! Since Japanese vending machines aren’t set up to take any denomination of change smaller than the 10-yen coin, this makes the machine gets at least partial credit as the cheapest in Japan, and being the cheapskates that we are, we had to check it out for ourselves.

The 10-yen vending machine is part of a bank of brightly colored machines located near Osaka’s Central Wholesale Market. It’s about an eight-minute walk from the Noda train station, and for pinpoint accuracy you can enter 10円自販機 (“10-yen vending machine”) into Google maps and it’ll pop right up, donated as a “famous sightseeing spot.”

With a GPS-equipped phone, finding the 10-yen machine is a snap, and soon enough we were standing in front of it with coin in hand.

While we love a good deal as much as anyone, we were actually a little apprehensive. The machine’s buttons are unlabeled, so there’s no way to know what you’re buying until after you take the plunge, and 10 yen, being such a deep discount from normal drink pricing, is cheap enough that we were worried about what kind of strange concoctions the machine would spit out.

▼ There are actually two 10-yen vending machines, so to put our minds at ease, we used the one that has more kitty pictures.

▼ “Look forward to finding out what you’ll get!” the cats cheerfully encourage us.

Still, plenty of the buttons on the machine indicated that the corresponding selection was sold out, so someone must be using the machine. And we’d come too far to turn back now, so we fed a single 10-yen coin into the slot, took a deep breath, and pushed a random button.

What dropped into the pick-up slot was…

…a full-sized bottle of Necchu Taisaku Mizu, a sports/energy drink from respectable Japanese drink maker Akol.

Emboldened by the fact that we hadn’t gotten something strange, unappetizing, or poisonous, we put in another coin, hit a different button, and got…

…the exact same thing.

To be honest, we were a little disappointed by the repeat appearance. Sure, Necchu Taisaku Mizu is a tasty drink, but it’s really more of a summer thing, and we didn’t really need two servings of it on this brisk autumn afternoon. That’s probably why they were being sold for 10 yen each, though. With their peak demand season over and done, these were likely leftovers from the summer. They were still perfectly drinkable, though, with more than six months remaining before their “sell-by” dates.

Next we turned our attention to the other machines in the row. One offered mystery items (not necessarily drinks) for 50 yen, and the other promised the same for 100 yen. We gambled and tried both, earning ourselves a bag of Butter Ball Hokkaido butter candy and a container of chewing gum.

▼ The 50-yen machine

Finally, for those who hate to part with their money without knowing exactly what they’ll get in exchange, there’s a machine in the row labeled as the Oideya Shrine.

While not as dirt cheap as the other machines (the Necchu Taisaku Mizu we’d gotten randomly for 10 yen was selling for 60 here), the Oideya Shrine’s drinks are still about half the price, or less, than what vending machines ordinarily charge. Plus, certain buttons claim to provide fortuitous side benefits, such as granting economic success or long life. But we decided we’d take care of our own health and finances, and instead just pressed the vaguely defined “various drinks from famous brands” 50-yen button, which rewarded us with a dented, but otherwise fine, can of UCC Coffee.

▼ Not a bad haul for 220 yen.

So you could say this is Osaka’s vending machine drink outlet, where off-season leftovers and factory seconds. We’d recommend bringing an insulated bag, then hopping on the Shinkansen bullet train to Tokyo directly after you make your purchases, so you can have some 10-yen sushi and wash it down with a cold 10-yen drink.

Photos ©SoraNews24
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