The Wild And Wonderful World Of Japanese Vending Machines

For decades now, Japanese vending machines have served up an array of interesting, mundane and useful things. Things like manga. Or bread in a can. Or video game piracy cartridges.

In Japan, vending machines started to appear in 1950s with drink machines, and then really began to take off in the following decades. Today, Japan has the highest per capita rate of vending machines in the world (the US, however, has a high number of machines, most of which are soda heavy), with the vast majority still being drink machines.

Over the years, it seems like people have put almost everything imaginable in vending machines, especially in the years before convenience stores really took off in the country and starting appearing on nearly every corner.

Yet, vending machines, like the country's unmanned vegetable and fruit stands, do still serve a very useful purpose, especially in rural areas: round-the-clock retail.

Here's a round up of some of Japan's more unusual vending machines.

Traditional Japanese seals ("hanko" or 判子).

Amulets at a Buddhist temple

Cheap tickets!

Chikuwa (竹輪)

Cup noodles... with foreigner kids

Fishing bait

Flowers, how lovely!


Local sake in glass cups


Rusted batteries in a very old, rusted vending machine

PC glasses for kids



More sake (plus beer)

Sliced apples

I love sports games


Toy cars and tanks. Yes, tanks!


Udon and soba noodles


Second-hand mobile phones

Yakiniku (焼肉 or "grilled meat") sauce

Here's a boring vending machine in an exciting place: Mt Fuji

In case you missed it, here's a tour of vending machine hell.

変な自販機や懐かしい自販機 [まおか] はんこ [東海道の文具のブログ] 「さわやか」と書いてあるけどあまり爽やかじゃなくてむしろジャングルぽい自動販売機 [ネタフル] 個人的に笑った・心に残ったツイート [まとめ] 某所にて [ディープダンジョンかづの] 秩父宮ラグビー場ロッカールーム公開 [スポーツ] メガネとしては国内初! [もちあるいてなんぼ] 自動販売機 [美魔女] 佐々木酒造 [あいさにブログ] 漫画自動販売機 [小倉かおるのブログ~平凡なサラリーマン日記~] 西伊豆戸田温泉の自動販売機 その2 [いちさんのブログ]

Top picture: Pixospective

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    I always loved the 'Live Crabs' vending Machine:

      Not exactly a vending machine, but this Skill Tester I saw over in Japan is on par with that one:

        For if I want to gamble if I am having lobster tonight. That is perfect!

    I bought hot chips from a vending machine in Japan. It took 2 minutes to "vend" (probably microwave). As you would expect, they tasted CRAP.

    Where is the hot food vending machines? Chicken nuggets or hot dogs from a vending machine yum yum.

    There are a few electronics vending machines in Nipponbashi in Osaka where you can buy solder, resistors etc from. Not to mention all the vending machine restaurants around Japan!

    SWEET JESUS! A vending machine on a train? WHY DOES THIS NOT EXIST EVERYWHERE??

    Also, I spy uncensored anime boobies ;)

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