You never know what might happen when you play with the gacha gods. 

The other day, our reporter Haruka Takagi was taking a stroll through the streets of Hanaten in ​​Osaka when something bright and pink caught her eye outside a block of apartments near the station.

As she walked towards the eye-catching sight, she could see festive balloons and bunting in the design, with an image of Osaka Tower and the words, “自販機ガチャ!!” (“Gacha Vending Machine!!“) emblazoned across it.

At first glance, it looked like one of those sweepstakes-style vending machines that offer you the chance to win an expensive item like a gaming console, but the sign on the machine revealed that this was something else. The sign read:

“This gacha vending machine sells products that are consumable but difficult to sell through normal channels due to factors such as expiration dates, seasonality, damaged or altered packaging, and damage caused by natural disasters. By selling theses products, we are working to eliminate food and product wastage.”

Food loss prevention is a cause Haruka is always happy to support, so she pulled out her wallet and took a look at the options in front of her. There were five price points — 100 yen (US$0.67), 200 yen, 300 yen, 500 yen and 1,000 yen — but no indication as to what she might get in return.

The numbered selections all had enticing slogans you might hear from street vendors on them, like “Choose this!” and “Today’s best!”, which got her excited for what might come out of the machine.

Unable to make up her mind on which tier to select, she decided to try them all, starting first with a 100-yen purchase.

What thudded out into the tray below didn’t sound as heavy as a canned drink, so what could it be?

▼ Mochi!

This wasn’t any ordinary package of mochi, as it was a well-known variety of mini round rice cakes made by a famous manufacturer.

▼ With an expiration date of October 2025, Haruka has almost two years left to eat this mochi.

With nothing wrong with the expiry date, Haruka figured it must’ve been in the machine due to seasonality, as mochi rice cakes are generally eaten around New Year.

▼ What would she receive for 200 yen?

▼ Hmmm…what’s this?

This turned out to be a pack of cream stew, with an expiration date of 18 February, 2024.

▼ Next up, we have the 300-yen purchase, which turned out to be…

▼…a matte lipstick and medicated disinfectant gel from Korean cosmetics brand Stimmung.

That seemed like a good deal to Haruka, so she kept going with her next-tier purchase for 500 yen, which netted her…

▼…a pack of interdental brushes from Oral-B.

This was a reasonable price for a pack of 40 of these little brushes, and though she didn’t know why they were included in the machine as they looked to be in perfect condition, it was time for her to go all out with her 1,000-yen purchase.

▼ What would this get her?

▼ A Nike Breakaway Lanyard!

She had no idea what this was at first, but after getting home and looking it up, she learned that the strap has a “quick release buckle” that opens automatically when the lanyard is pulled, to help prevent injuries.

During her research, she found that the lanyard retails for 899 yen, so this was a bit of a disappointment, but hey, that’s what you get when you roll the dice with the gacha gods.

▼ So in the end, this was what she got for 2,100 yen.

Was it good value for money? Well, not really, but then again, she wasn’t looking for a bargain — she was paying for a sense of excitement and on that front, the vending machine certainly delivered.

So if you ever come across one of these bright pink vending machines in your neighbourhood, you now know what to expect when you feed your money into it. Every push of the button may deliver a different product, though, so, like a box of chocolates, you never know exactly what you’re gonna get!

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