We try our luck at the lucky box vending machine in Tokyo’s Nakano.

As you might have noticed, we’ve got a soft spot for Japan’s quirky vending machines. Oh, there’s one that sells sea urchin? Awesome! We still have coins left over from our coriander vending machine run.

So today we’re hitting up a vending machine that sells…well, we’re not actually sure what it sells.

The machine is located outside the entrance to Dobashi Shoten, a wholesaler in Tokyo’s Nakano Ward. Dobashi, though, sells a little bit of everything. They buy up overstocks of imported goods, factory seconds, leftover inventory from stores going out of business, and all other sorts of random collections of goods, and so their vending machine, likewise, sells random collections of goods.

Lucky bags are most common around New Year’s in Japan, where shops will offer blind grab bags of their wares, usually with the promise of deep discounts for what’s inside. For its machine, Dobashi is selling what it calls fukubako, or “lucky boxes,” basically lucky bags with the bag replaced by a sturdy cardboard box filled with…something.

The machine itself actually looks more like a bank of coin-operated lockers, a setup you’ll sometimes see in Japan at unmanned produce stalls. Each lucky box costs 500 yen (US$4.40), so we tossed our 500-yen coin into a slot in the right column, turned the key, and opened up the door.

▼ All of the lucky boxes look identical from the outside, making this the blindest of blind buys.

The box was surprisingly heavy, so much so that we couldn’t pull it out with our fingertips. Dobashi offers a solution, though, with a shoehorn strapped to the vending machine that you can use to pry the box out towards yourself.

OK, time to open this up and see what treasures we’ve obtained!




After spreading out our lucky box’s content for maximum photogenicity, we took the tally of our haul, which was:
● A cup of instant ramen
● A bottle of mentsuyu (bonito-stock noodle broth)
● A bag of salty hard candy
● A pair of mittens
● 2 pairs of socks
● 2 pairs of women’s stockings
● A set of plastic chopsticks and case
● A flashlight
● A stationery set
● A reusable heating pad
● A business card holder
● A small rectangular Tupperware container

That’s a total of 14 items, and while most of them look like the sort of thing you could buy at Daiso or some other 100 yen shop, with our lucky box having cost 500 yen, that works out to less than 36 yen each! Honestly, that’s a pretty impressive bargain, provided you just so happened to be in the market for this extremely eclectic set of products.

Even more optimistically, you could say that if there are even five things in your lucky box that you like, you’re essentially getting the rest of the contents for free. In our case, we really can’t complain. Who doesn’t like having some cozy new socks and mittens as winter is coming, and who can’t find a place in their stomach for ramen and candy, right?

We’ll let you know if/when we find a use for the rest of the stuff.

Vending machine information
Located at Dobashi Shoten / 土橋商店
Address: Tokyo-to, Nakano-ku, Namabukuro 1-13-6

Photos ©SoraNews24
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