vending machines

Old-school vending machine on Japan’s Sado Island sells bags of rare and local fruit

One of the many things we love about Japan is its impressive variety of vending machines. We’ve seen everything from orange juice that looks like soy sauce to cans of hot, clam-packed miso soup make its way to the hands of customers through the wonders of mechanised distribution.

Recently, we stumbled on a machine we’d never seen before, and one that’s unique even by Japanese standards. Meet the persimmon vending box that delights customers on Sado Island with a rare variety of fruit that’s only grown locally, away from mainland Japan.

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Japan has vending machines for just about anything, including emergency care

In the case of a cardiac arrest, every second counts, which is why over the past decade Japanese health organizations have deployed a large number of automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in public areas, with the current count somewhere over 300,000 units.

Eventually the country would like to see that number expand to one in every building, but for the time being the first priority is AED accessibility, leaving some foreign tourists surprised to find that AEDs in places that might seem a little odd at first: like vending machines.

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Japanese drinks company attaches free “rental umbrellas” to its vending machines in Osaka

Japanese vending machines are a great example of the culture of convenience so prevalent in Japan. Whether you’re after orange juice that looks like soy sauce, or a hot, clam-packed miso soup to cure your hangover, if you want something fast, the nation’s vending machines will be there for you, come rain or shine.

Now one of the country’s largest drinks manufacturers, DyDo, is catering to customers who actually do find themselves caught out in the rain, with a free “rental umbrella” service attached to a number of their machines in Nishi Ward, Osaka.

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The ultimate hangover cure! Hot canned miso soup, packed with the power of 70 clams

One of the most wonderful things about a Japanese winter is the abundance of hot drinks that become available at convenience stores and vending machines on street corners. There’s nothing quite like popping a coin into a machine on a freezing cold night or while making your way to work, only to have a piping hot can delivered into your frozen palms; it’s an experience that’s almost as satisfying as actually drinking the hot beverage and warming yourself from the inside out!

Stumbling across a good hot soup other than corn potage when scouring the drinks display is always a rare bonus and now that’s something we can look forward to, especially after a night of drinking, with the new canned miso soup from Nagatanien. Filled with the power of ornithine, an amino acid abundant in clams, this is a traditional hangover remedy from Japan, now packed in a can!

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Now you can buy badass bandanas for your cat…from a vending machine

While Japan is known for its large number of vending machines, offering everything from ink stamps to gold cans of Coca-Cola, there’s a very special type of vending machine that can be stacked three high and in long rows of twenty or more: the gachapon machine.

Often forming a huge wall outside gaming stores, these plastic-windowed devices spit out mystery capsules with tiny collectibles inside at 100-600 yen (US$0.84-$5.02) a pop. The latest gachapon to appear on the market is aimed at the feline customer, and if kittens could master the art of coin handling, they’d all be down at the vending machines, getting in on the craze that all cool cats are into – cat bandanas.

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Get a soda and good karma with this donation-accepting vending machine

One thing foreign visitors to Japan immediately notice is the ubiquitous vending machines. Particularly in big cities, you can’t swing a tanuki without hitting a machine selling something. Mostly it’s soft drinks, but there are also vending machines for beer, cigarettes, hamburgers, used panties, weird toys, curry, fresh eggs, and pretty much anything under the sun. Now you can even get a good deed done with your canned coffee purchase at this vending machine accepting charitable donations.

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Gunma Prefecture automat diner serves surprisingly delicious hamburgers with a side of nostalgia

From corn soup to gold soda cans to stag beetles, you can find almost anything in vending machines situated on approximately every street corner in Japan. And not too long ago in Showa-era Japan, it was pretty common to see restaurants staffed entirely by vending machines serving bland, but hot food at an affordable price. Some savvy business owner decided to cash in on this nostalgia and recently opened up an automat diner where customers can relive a time when “dining out” meant putting coins into a vending machine and waiting for your food to pop out!

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Oh, crepe! We discover a pastry vending machine at the airport

You might think there’s no reason to fly to Fukuoka. After all, the Shinkansen line now stretches all the way to the biggest city on the island of Kyushu, and those spiffy new first-class long-haul bus seats are about ready to make their debut. Why bother taking to the skies when you’ve got two perfectly good terrestrial travel options?

Simple: so you can get a crepe from a vending machine at Fukuoka Airport.

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We try ramen from a can on the backstreets of Tokyo【Taste Test】

Akihabara has a well-deserved reputation as having Japan’s highest concentration of anime and video game shops, not to mentioned maid cafes. There’s one other thing it’s known for, though, and that’s weird vending machines.

And no, we’re not talking about Japan’s fabled panty vending machines, but rather automated sales of odd canned food. A few years back, Akihabara came to be known as the place to score canned bread. Next came the canned oden craze.

On a recent trip to the Tokyo neighborhood, however, we stumbled across something we’d never seen before when we spotted a vending machine that spits out hot cans of pre-cooked ramen.

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Japanese vending machine dispenses ultra-rare gold Coca Cola can prize

Japan is well-known around the world for its enormous variety of vending machines, dispensing everything from eggs to flowers to batteries at the touch of a button. But did you know there’s a machine that dispenses gold Coke cans?

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10 obscure Japanese vending machine drinks that fly under the beverage radar

With the rainy season over and done, we’ve been seeing day after day of scorching sunshine here in the Tokyo area. If you’re spending much time outdoors, whether sightseeing or just commuting to and from work or school, it’s important to drink plenty of fluids, since it’s the best way to ward off dehydration.

Thankfully, Japan is covered in vending machines, so you’re never too far away from a cold, refreshing beverage. Of course, you can only knock back so many bottles of Coca-Cola before getting bored with the flavor, so we’ve scoured the streets of Tokyo and came back with no fewer than 10 vending machine drinks that fly under the radar in Japan.

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Earn up to $5,000 per month with a side business in ‘independent’ vending machines

Vending machines are ubiquitous in Japan. You’ll find them on most street corners, outside office blocks, lined up at bus stops, and even on the top of Mount Fuji. Prices vary, but the lowest you’ll find in Tokyo is usually the ‘one coin’ machines where everything costs just 100 yen (US$0.98). How can they sell them so cheap? Are they actually profitable? The answer is yes, and many ordinary business-minded folks are taking advantage of the opportunities they offer to put away a nice chunk of cash each month.

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Japan’s vending machines are no match for counterfeit coins

Counterfeit coins and bills are hard to make and with the advancement of technology, hard to pass for genuine money. Store clerks are armed with a variety of techniques, from special pens to knowledge of watermark placement, making it even more difficult for those looking for undeserved cash to score big.

However, with the proliferation of vending machines across Japan and the circulation of a high-value 500 yen (US$5) coin, counterfeiters have a perfect mark for cashing in their fake coins, as a recent photo on Twitter confirms.

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Tokyo hamburger vending machine has a human touch

Japan is a wonderland of vending machines, and in many ways they’re great. They’re well-maintained, almost always take bills on the first try, and never judge you as pay for a bottle of hard liquor entirely in 10 yen coins.

Sometimes, though, doing a complete end run around human contact can make the purchasing process feel a little lonely. So when we heard about a restaurant where the vending machines had a human element, as well as delicious yet cheap hamburgers, we knew we had to check it out.

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12 disappointing things for Japanese people traveling in the US

Here at RocketNews24, we mostly talk about Japan and other Asian countries, doing our best to offer a sort of “Western perspective” on this fun and fascinating continent. And if you think we love doing it, well, you’re certainly right!

But sometimes it helps to have a little balance—you can’t eat kakigori every day for every meal after all—so today we’re happy to bring you a Japanese perspective on visiting the United States of America! While many Japanese people enjoy visiting the United States, there are some things that can end up being a bit… disappointing.

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