The Bench has the most exciting, futuristic vending machines in Tokyo.

On 17 April, a new gourmet zone called EATo LUMINE opened within the ticket gate area at Shinjuku Station, and one of the highlights is a futuristic, cyberpunk-like corner called The Bench.

From the outside, The Bench looks like a bar, but according to operators Lumine, it’s actually “a next-generation vending machine that offers an immersive experience with images and scents”.

The futuristic space immerses customers within the mechanical world, making it feel like stepping inside a vending machine, with products placed inside coin locker-esque compartments with large windows.

▼ Perhaps you’d like to buy a bonsai?

With lockers and a fridge on site, the setup can be a bit confusing for first-timers, but thankfully a staff member is on hand to walk visitors through the purchasing process.

According to staff, customers can take whatever they want from the refrigerator or lockers and purchase it at the cash register, or they can use the touch panel and giant screen to buy things, essentially using it like a giant vending machine.

Some of the products you can purchase from the touch screen include:

▼ A Craft Beer Set (4,000 yen [US$25.68]), containing two craft beers and two bags of bonito jerky

Mannen Ushi Plain, a brand of beef jerky (1,800 yen)

Matcha mo Yuki Cookie Tin (3,900 yen)

▼ Starwatcher beer (1,410 yen)

▼ Open Book Lemon Sour Can (980 yen)

As you can see, these aren’t your usual vending machine prices, but the products here are rare, as is the way they’re delivered, because after you make a purchase, the QR code inside gets scanned by the system and then…

▼…an amazing projection mapping scene begins to play on the wall.

The scene that plays is designed to align with your purchase, which in our case, was a nightscape to match our Open Book Lemon Sour and beef jerky.

The futuristic cityscape before us made us feel like we were venturing out for a night on the town, but then, something even more surprising happened — a special scent descended into the room from the ceiling. 

This was a high-tech experience that brought an extra dash of fantasy to the vending machine world, and there are seven different projection mapping scenes and six types of scents awaiting visitors. The scent that wafted down to us was a refreshing one that matched the lemon sour and made us want to crack into straight away, but with eating and drinking here off-limits, we dashed home to enjoy our purchase instead.

The lemon sour was delicious and easy to drink, and the design on the outside of the can brought back memories of the projection mapping, which brought the scene to life.

▼ The bonito jerky had similar cityscape packaging, only with a cute fish and bonito at the front of it all.

▼ It was the tastiest, most elegant type of jerky we’d ever eaten.

As we sipped our drink and munched on our jerky, memories of the futuristic vending machine lingered in our mind’s eye. It was the most high-tech, unusual vending machine purchase we’ve ever made in Japan, and that’s saying a lot for us, given that we’ve bought everything from Ramen Pringles through to a horror story that shook us to our core from vending machines in the past.

Making the space even more exciting is the fact that the product lineup at The Bench isn’t fixed, so you don’t know what you might find when you enter. Located near the Seijo Ishii supermarket, it’s a place that’ll grab your eye when you walk past, so if you’re in the area, be sure to step inside, and don’t forget to grab some seaweed from this other vending machine that’s hiding nearby!

Store Information
The Bench
Address: JR Shinjuku Station EATo LUMINE (near JR Shinjuku Station basement 1F west exit ticket gate)
JR新宿駅「イイトルミネ」内 ※JR新宿駅地下1F西口改札近く
Open: 8:00 a.m.-10:00 p.m.
Website (Instagram)

Photos ©SoraNews24
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[ Read in Japanese ]