You might have to start buying your grilled rice balls from a convenience store instead.

Anyone who has spent time in Japan has seen their fair share of vending machines. There’s an estimated one vending machine for every thirty-four people, and even in the most unlikely of places, you’re sure to spot one offering up something practical or something rare and luxurious. But perhaps not for much longer.

Nichirei’s Hot Food vending machines, commonly seen at service areas, airports, or on ferries, provide warm snacks like hamburgers, chicken, fries, or the stalwart grilled rice balls. For hungry travellers, these vending machines are a welcome sight when you just want some hot food quick.

However, by the end of March, the Hot Food vending machines are to be discontinued.

“I just ate from one recently… lol. I have to go again before they’re gone.”

In fact, the number of Hot Food vending machines has been in decline for a while. According to reports, the manufacturers haven’t been making new machines for a few years now.

A representative for the company commented:

“When we started the Hot Food vending machines over 30 years ago, there weren’t as many convenience stores as there are now. Customers travelling could stop at service areas and enjoy some hot food, even if it was late at night and all other shops were closed. But these days, there isn’t a lot of demand for our services.

Instant noodle and other light-meal vending machines will still be available, but Nichirei Hot Food vending machine fans took to Twitter to mourn the loss of one of the most iconic vending machines seen throughout the country.

“Now I’ve got a craving for food from those vending machines!”
“Thank you for your service.”
“I hope there’s still one at terminal two at Haneda airport….”
“I always buy something from those vending machines whenever I see them. I like the grilled rice balls.”
“You never know what you’ve got until it’s gone.”

While Nichirei’s reign as the hot food vending machine kings might be coming to an end, there are plenty of other vending machines around Japan offering delicious food. Whether it’s pizza or a beef bowl, Japan still has us covered when a conbini just won’t do.

Source: Yahoo News via Hachima Kiko
Image: Pakutaso
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