The wonders of the Yo-Kai Express sound like a myth, but they’re real.

Japan has had awesome vending machines for decades, but since the start of the pandemic they’ve gotten even better with the introduction of ramen vending machines. However, while we love the convenience of being able to purchase delicious ramen at any time of day, what these vending machines sell are the ingredients (noodles, broth stock, etc.) so that you can put together your own bowl of noodles once you get home.

But now there’s a vending machine that serves up piping hot, fully cooked, ready-to-eat bowls of ramen, and we couldn’t be happier (or hungrier).

Called the Yo-Kai Express, the ramen vending machine takes its name from yokai, the mythical creatures of Japanese folklore. The machine, which takes just 90 seconds from ordering to completely prepare your ramen, went into service this week inside Terminal 2 of Tokyo’s Haneda Airport, and the four different types of ramen it offers are themselves sort of a culinary trip around Japan, starting with the Sapporo Spicy Miso.

▼ Miso is the most popular ramen broth in Hokkaido, the prefecture Sapporo is capital of and which is also Japan’s primary grower of corn.

Tokyo is represented the Tokyo Shoyu, since broth with a shoyu (soy sauce) base is indicative of east Japan.

Heading figuratively/culinarily to the southwest part of the country, there’s the Kyushu Tonkotsu, with the pork stock broth perfected in Fukuoka.

And last, the Yo-Kai Express also offers Tori Yuzu Shio, ramen with a salty chicken stock plus flavor from the Japanese citrus fruit yuzu, which is sort of like a more fragrant lemon.

▼ This particular kind of ramen isn’t predominantly associated with any one region of Japan, but the broth’s proven popularity brings a smile to the face of noodle lovers wherever they encounter it in the country.

The company that designed the Yo-Kai Express is also called Yo-Kai, which isn’t particularly shocking, but what is a surprise is that Yo-Kai is based in California. From the mouthwatering appearance of their noodles, though, it definitely looks like they know a thing or two about authentic Japanese ramen, and with each type priced at 790 yen (US$6.50), we’ll definitely be trying a bowl or four the next time we’re passing through Haneda.

Source, images: PR Times
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