There’s good reason why people from around Tokyo are making the trip to Electric Town to get a taste of these special beverages.

If you’ve ever visited Japan, you’ll know how great, and abundant, the country’s vending machines can be. Given that there’s one on practically every corner, people in Japan who’ve grown up with the street-side convenience usually walk by without giving them a second thought, so when a vending machine makes news online with Japanese people, you can be sure it’s stocked with something that’s extra special.

The latest vending machine that’s got everyone’s attention is located on a street not far from Tokyo’s Akihabara Station. From the outside, the machine looks like any other, with a white and nondescript appearance that wouldn’t ordinarily attract any special interest.

To walk past this one, though, would be a mistake, as it’s filled with exclusive beverages that people in Tokyo wouldn’t usually get to try. To the untrained eye, these might look like an ordinary selection of juices, but people who’ve grown up in Japan will know that most of these are usually only available to purchase in and around the island of Shikoku.

Shikoku is known for producing some of the best citrus fruits in the country, and one in particular, the Japanese mikan, is particularly popular for creating a refreshing juice that’s similar in flavour to a tangerine. Anyone who’s been to the southern island of Shikoku will know that the king of juices there is one called “Pom Juice”, a product born in Ehime Prefecture on the island in 1952, which is so popular it’s now sold around the country.

▼ The Pom Juice bottle, pictured on the far right of the middle row below, is one of the few familiar products in this selection.

With its 100-percent mikan juice content, Pom Juice is a favourite amongst lovers of the fruit, so to see a wide variety of drinks on offer from the same brand is like heaven, especially for people in Tokyo who might not have known that these other products even existed. With prices ranging from just 80-100 yen (US$0.70-$0.90), the drinks on offer are also reasonably priced, enticing people from around Tokyo to make multiple purchases, which is what our Japanese-language reporter Seiji Nakazawa decided to do when he visited.

First up, Seiji tried out the “Pom Tsubu”, a version of the original that includes pulp, adding a new textural experience to the drink. The fresh fruit flavour was enhanced by the addition of the pulp, and Seiji absolutely loved it, saying he would definitely make the journey out to Akihabara to try this again.

Next up, Seiji tried out a selection of the company’s canned products, starting first with the 100-percent Mikan Iyokan Juice. Ehime Prefecture produces 90-percent of the country’s iyokan, which is the second most widely produced citrus in Japan after the mikan. Similar in taste and appearance to a mikan, the addition of iyokan in this beverage packs a more acidic punch than just plain juice, making it one that tart-loving taste hounds will definitely enjoy.

Next up was the Ehime Hime Pon, which contains nothing but straight juice with no additives, and showcases the flavour of the Ehime-grown Dekopon, a larger variety of mandarin that’s known for its large size, sweet taste, and distinctive bump at the top of the fruit. This was a deliciously thick juice, with plenty of sweet mandarin flavour.

The Ehime Kiyomi features another famous fruit from Ehime Prefecture: the Kiyomi citrus. Again, this one is “straight juice” with nothing added, so you know you’re getting a top-quality product, and this one comes filled with the well-balanced sweet and sour flavour unique to Kiyomi citrus.

The reason why these drinks were being sold at an Akihabara vending machine, and at such a good price too, is because it’s located outside the Tokyo Sales Division office of Ehime Inryo, the company that produces Pom Juice products. Many of the drinks in the machine are only available to purchase online, in boxes of 24, which makes this one of the only ways to get your hands on a single can or bottle.

There’s so much more on offer than just orange juice in Japan, and this little little vending machine hidden away on the streets of Akihabara is the best place to try some of the country’s most prized, and unusual, citrus flavours in Tokyo.

Be sure to give it a try next time you’re in the area, and while you’re at it, don’t forget to keep an eye out for the secret milk stand vending machines on platform 5 at the station as well!

Location information

Address: Tokyo-to, Chiyoda-ku, Sotokanda 4-13-2, in front of the Ehime Inryo Tokyo Headquarters
東京都千代田区外神田4丁目13-2 えひめ飲料東京営業本部前

Photos © SoraNews24