This vending machine has ‘mystery’ written all over it – literally.

Vending machines are found absolutely everywhere you look in Japan. In fact, Japan has the highest density of vending machines worldwide, which should come as no surprise to anyone who has visited the country. From in the middle of the busiest city centre all the way to the absolute middle-of-nowhere countryside; if you take a quick glance around, you’re bound to see a vending machine nearby.

Most of them are your run-of-the-mill drinks vending machines, but every now and again one will pop up that will surprise you – whether it be a handmade gyoza vending machine, a machine that dispenses flying fish, a machine for insect snacks or, for the less adventurous, a pizza vending machine, Japan has a vending machine to suit your every need. Vending machines are such an integral part of Japanese life that some are even reported to be haunted by ghosts.

But recently, we at SoraNews24 came across a vending machine that was unique even for us. Located in Oyabe city in Toyama prefecture, this was a type of vending machine where a number of the contents were completely unknown.

At a quick glance, this pair of vending machines don’t look too different from any other vending machines you’d see around town. But upon closer inspection, some of the items for sale were covered up with a sign and the Japanese word 謎 (nazo), or ‘mystery’.

Mixed in with regular well-known food and drink, the ‘mystery’ items were priced up to 100 yen (US$0.91). On our first try, we opted for a mystery drink priced at 50 yen (US$0.45) and we got this grape soda.

So if we were to press that button again, would we get another grape soda? Well, it didn’t seem like it. What came out appeared to be completely random each time. If we bought just one or two items, the ‘mystery’ of what would come out wouldn’t be solved. So we decided to put in 1,000 yen (US$9) to see what would happen.

Here’s what came out!


More snacks!

Even more snacks!!

Every item that came out was worth between 100 – 150 yen. Even the items that would cost less than 100 yen were bundled with another item that was worth more, so you never lost out. You always got your money’s worth!

▼ Here are all of the snacks we got from pressing the mystery buttons on the vending machine, costing us a total of 800 yen (US$7.20)

800 yen down and we had somewhat figured out the pattern of what snacks would come out. But it wasn’t just snacks on sale in the vending machine. Along the top row, we caught a glimpse of a familiar logo. Toy cars were also on sale… and for only 100 yen?

Perhaps unsurprisingly, a Hot Wheels car also came out! But for a pretty surprising price – there’s no way you could walk into a toy store these days and get a Hot Wheels for just 100 yen!! What a bargain! What’s more, this model is no longer being made, so it’s a rare item! Just how long had it been hiding here, waiting for someone to get it?! Our hands were trembling with excitement!

Just to make sure this wasn’t some kind of pricing mistake, we bought another toy car just to check. But it really was only 100 yen!

By spending just 1,000 yen, we got a whole trove of treasures and, oddly, a sense of fulfilment. We haven’t tried to figure out how much our ten items are worth put together, but it’s definitely worth over 1,000 yen in excitement alone!

And while the ‘mystery’ items alone were mysterious and exciting, an even bigger ‘mystery’ remains unsolved – how cheap the regular drinks are! Well known brands like Orangina and Aquarius are being sold for 90 yen, whereas most visits to any convenience store will set you back at least 120 yen per bottle. Who is running this vending machine?!

It’s also worth nothing that the vending machine is in close proximity to the neighbourhood elementary school, so we got the impression that this vending machine doubles up as the local candy shop for the kids.

Even more mysteriously, giant isopods (helpfully labeled as ‘chilled’) were also on display in the vending machine, although they appeared to be sold out. Whether or not they will actually be available to buy remains yet another mystery.

So if you’re someone who finds joy in the unknown, get yourself to Toyama Prefecture and bring a bunch of spare change with you. You might get a special treasure of your own. At the very least, you’ll end up with some tasty snacks. You might end up even making friends with the local wildlife!

Images: ©SoraNews24
● Want to hear about SoraNews24’s latest articles as soon as they’re published? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!
[ Read in Japanese ]