The World Of Japanese Vending Machines

The 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 illicit substances. 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 U.S., 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. Keep in mind, most Japanese people would also find many of these rather unusual.

If you are wondering where the panty vending machine is, forget the panty vending machine!

Here is a vending machine for traditional Japanese seals (“hanko” or 判子).

Vending machines for amulets at Buddhist temples.

Chikuwa (竹輪).


Fishing bait.

Flowers, how lovely!

Note the bottles of sake.



Glasses for computer use.

Bread in a can.

New bras.

Toy cars.

Chewing gum. Only chewing gum.

Cup sake.

Cup noodles.



Sliced apples.




Bras and underpants (both new!).



Yakiniku (焼肉 or “grilled meat”) sauce.

Another vending machine taking the train.


More sake.


Here are boring vending machines in an exciting place: Mt. Fuji.

And now once again, it’s time for the Hello Kitty vending machine!



  • There is pretty much a vending machine for anything in Japan. But isn’t that more of a reflection on Japan not even have space for apartments let alone stores?

    • ummm no? They have plenty of stores and apartment spaces, but because the country is an island nation they generally make so with the spaces they have.

      The amount of vending machines you see, and even the plentiful-ness of convenience stores is to optimize convenience, and i say with my experience that it is indeed convenient.

  • Got hot chips in a vending machine near Mt Fuji a few years ago, they were soggy, but a big surprise.

  • Ugh, id love to go back to Japan, its such a wonderful country, the people are super helpful and friendly.

    I made an effort to try every different black coffee I saw there. 10/10 would go again.

  • Battery Vending Machines would be so convenient, perhaps less so now that everything I own but remotes and my Kitchen scales has it’s own internal Battery, but ten years ago. I’d also say an Umbrellla vending machine could be handy.

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