For those times when you’ve got someplace to be, and you’ve also got a craving for kimchi.

Just about every train station platform in Japan has a vending machine or two on it, stocked with all sorts of tempting options. Some of the most common are canned coffees and teas, often in both hot and cold varieties, but today we’re visiting a vending machine that’s a little different.

OK, so the machine itself is the standard type. The inventory, though, is anything but, because this vending machine is stocked with kimchi!

You can find this unique machine at Keikyu Kawasaki Station, about a 10-minute ride south from Tokyo’s Shinagawa Station. The Kawasaki connection is because this kimchi is made by Otsukemono no Kei, a local company that specializes in the spicy pickled dish.

The writing at the top of the machine promises “Jaw-droppingly delicious kimchi,” which, as linguists, had us kind of concerned. If our jaw drops while we’re eating it, won’t we spill it all over ourselves?

Ago ga ochiru hodo umai kimuchi = Jaw-droppingly delicious kimchi

But as vending machine fans and foodies, we were intrigued, and we weren’t about to pass up this opportunity to try some!

There are a couple different varieties for sale, but we decided to go with the standard Chinese cabbage kimchi, for 600 yen (US$5.20). We inserted our money, hit the corresponding button, and retrieved our kimchi from the slot at the bottom of the machine.

The kimchi comes in a plastic bottle, decorated with a wrapper that looks like the Keikyu line trains. The conductor appears to be a squid (Otsukemono no Kei also sells kimchi-seasoned squid) giving us a jaunty salute, and above him, the train’s destination is displayed as “kimchi” (キムチ).

The kimchi is sealed in a plastic pouch inside the bottle, but even then, we could detect traces of its aroma, so we recommend sticking it in your bag if you’re buying it before hopping into a train car with other passengers.

Back home, we opened up the container and transferred our 200 grams (7.1 ounces) of kimchi to a dish, then took a few moments to marvel at its vibrant vermilion color.

And it tasted as good as it looked! There was plenty of spice, but also a fruity sweetness. The rich, deep flavor was paired to a crisp, satisfying crunch in the texture, and we could easily see ourselves alternating bites of Otsukemono no Kei’s kimchi and white rice until we’d eaten the whole thing.

If you’re looking for the kimchi vending machine, it’s on the platform for lines 4 and 5 at Keikyu Kawasaki Station, and we think we’ll be picking up some from now on whenever we’re passing through that part of town.

Photos © SoraNews24
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