Our intrepid reporter completely loses his cool biting into the sizable bugs.

A lot has been said about the impending food difficulties the world faces and the potential of insects as a viable food source. And bit by bit, six-legged gourmet offerings have been trickling into the public, the most notable of which has been the highly successful edible insect vending machine in Kumamoto City.

Serving up all types of creatures from crickets to scorpions, the machine is said to be raking in hundreds of thousands of yen a month. To find out more, we sent our reporter Masanuki Sunakoma to check it out. Masanuki was chosen, of course, because he generally really hates insects and would be the most entertaining to watch.

Masanuki approached the store where the machine was said to have been installed. It was a balloon store called Discover Balloon with brightly colored and shiny floating party decorations, in stark contrast to the box of horrors that stood in front of it.

The flag read “World’s First Insect Vending Machine” which temped Masanuki to go inside demand proof of the claim from one of the balloon store clerks – anything to get out of what he was assigned to do.

Looking through the machine’s selection, there are about 10 types of items including grasshoppers, crickets, diving beetles, and rhino beetles. There were too many to choose from, especially when your desired number is zero, so Masanuki did go inside and asked the balloon store staff for a recommendation.

Inside the store more insect foods were being sold. The clerk told our paling reporter that for beginners, the chocolate covered grasshoppers or crickets were the easiest to keep down. However, Masanuki wasn’t sent down there to nibble on chocolates like some wealthy dowager at a tea party.

“On the other hand,” the clerk added, “the diving beetles and rhino beetles are the most terrible because of the way they look.”

That was all Masanuki needed to hear. As much as it pained him to, he bought a pack of rhino beetles for 1,300 yen (US$12). They plunked out of the machine in a futuristic looking tube.

Inside the tube was shiny vinyl resealable pouch to keep his dead bugs fresh.

And inside that was a plastic baggie with five big black lumps rattling around inside. They appeared to have been lightly salted – as if that would make a difference.

Like many Japanese kids, Masanuki used to have a few of these large non-threatening insects as pets. But like most people, at a certain age that wonder and open curiosity about bugs had somehow transformed into abject fear and loathing.

He tried to reconnect with that childlike courage as he pulled out a big male and held it in his fingers. Maybe it wasn’t so bad after all. It just sort of looked like a big M&M.

Let’s just turn it over and…

▼ “Gyahhhh!”

It was no good. Even as a child, Masanuki never wanted to eat one of these things. The little guy stared at him with all of its rigor-mortised arms folded as if pleading with him not to eat it. It also looked as if it might suddenly spring back to life and fly away at any moment.

But these thoughts weren’t helping at all, so our soon-to-be-traumatized writer grabbed the rhino beetle by the horn and braced himself.

Once inside his mouth, all that was left to do was bite down and…



The texture of the beetle was significant, and there way no way Masanuki could delude himself into thinking it was anything but a large dead bug in his mouth. That being said, there wasn’t much flavor. It had a kind of earthy scent and felt like he was eating egg shells.

Still, eating a rhino beetle left an impression on him that would last a lifetime. It was a bit like what he imagined hell would be like.

Luckily for Masanuki, the future of eating insects probably isn’t going to be popping dead carcasses into our mouths whole, much like the way we don’t normally rip into the entire dead bodies of chickens and cows.

A better example of viable insect food would likely be more in line with the BugMo Protein Bars which were also on sale at Discover Balloon. But surely there will still be a demand for whole rhino beetles for those special times when you want to make a grown man hop around a balloon store screaming.

Vending machine information
Discover Balloon
7-8 Kitasendanbatamachi, Chuo-ku, Kumamoto-shi, Kumamoto-ken
Website (Discover Balloon)

Images ©SoraNews24
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