Not only is it convenient, but the variety is also great!

Clothing stores, ramen shops, convenience stores–Japan is offering more and more completely contactless ways to shop. Our Japanese-language reporter Yuuichiro Wasai visited this completely unmanned, 24-hour meat shop called Ouchi de Oniku. There are currently 116 branches open throughout Japan.

It’s surprising enough that something like meat–which arguably isn’t cheap–is being sold on an honor system, but there were more specific things that impressed Yuuichiro. Here are his top four:

1. The Amazing Selection

If all you were expecting is an assortment of sliced and ground beef, chicken, and pork, you’d be wrong. Along with those basics were so much more, and here are just a few examples of what Yuuichiro found and bought.

Kagoshima Kuroge Wagyu Beef Yukke: 800 yen (US$6.10) per 40 grams (1.41 ounces) (egg yolk not included)

Beef Tongue: 1,000 yen per 100 grams

Wagyu Beef Tendon Stew: 800 yen per 200 grams

And this is only a portion of what the store offers!

2. The Self-Reporting Register System

Many self-service registers and unmanned stores use barcodes on their products to ensure customers are paying for the right thing, but this store was different. There were no barcodes on products, so customers were trusted to self-report what they bought correctly and honestly.

The shop was equipped with security cameras, but was it really enough? Yuuichiro wondered. Maybe the honor system being applied to this extent is just one of those “Only in Japan” things.

Yuuichiro was also pleased to find he could pay in a few different ways: cash, credit, or e-money like PayPay.

3. The Delicious Hamburg Steak

Everything Yuichiro bought was delicious, but his favorite was the individually packaged Hamburg steak. It was 400 yen (US$3.01) per 100-percent beef patty. It’s not cheap, he admits, but it’s far better than most frozen hamburg steaks you’ll find on the Japanese market.

“This. Is. Beef.” is what he thought when he tasted it for the first time.

It tasted even better with a dab of sauce (he happened to have a bottle in his refrigerator at home).

4. The Pink Interior

From the outside, Yuuichiro honestly didn’t think the store was a meat shop since it was so pink. The pink neon animals probably do remind one more of a cute cafe than a place to buy different kinds of meat, but hey, why not make them feel like the same kind of experience?

Yuuichiro was super satisfied by his visit. He does admit that it is far pricier than going to a supermarket or a convenience store, but for the quality of the meat and the unique concept, he’d recommend paying a visit. Just note that not all branches have the same selection available. Make sure you bring a cold storage bag, though, as most of the products are sold frozen!

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