Guest Author - Ching Kin Min
There is a staggering number of vending machines in Japan, spread all over the country. Unless you’re in a very secluded part of Japan, there’s no way you can’t find a vending machine of some sort.
The majority of vending machines in Japan dispense drinks. In big and small cities alike, vending machines that dispense canned and bottled drinks can be found very easily. They can even be found on mountains! In the winter, hot drinks are also available. Drinks that are most commonly available from vending machines are various brands of coffee and milk tea, green tea and soda. Some vending machines also sell alcoholic drinks, though these are not as common. The bigger train stations have drink vending machines with a touch screen panel, giving them a futuristic feel.
The standard price of a canned drink from a vending machine (excluding alcoholic drinks) is 120 yen, though some drinks might cost more. There are also a number of vending machines in cities that sell drinks at a discounted price – the standard price is reduced to 100 yen and in some cases, 80 yen. On the other hand, vending machines on mountains always cost more – the standard price is 140 yen.
There exist also a number of vending machines that dispense products other than beverages. Food vending machines can be found in many places, selling potato chips, chocolates, instant cup noodles, ice cream and so on. Less common are frozen food (French fries, fried chicken, lunch boxes etc) vending machines. Vending machines that dispense canned ramen and canned corn soup also exist, but these are extremely rare. Not as rare, but no less unusual, are grain vending machines for those who, for some reason, do not buy grain from supermarkets, or who don’t live near them. Newspaper vending machines can also be found in some train stations and in big hotels. For the trading card gamer, some vending machines dispense cards for games like Vanguard. These are, unsurprisingly, found in game stores.
Cigarettes are sold at vending machines too. These machines are installed with an age verification system to prevent minors from getting their hands on them. At some adult stores, vending machines that dispense adult goods like lubricants and DVDs are available.
Even shrines and temples have evolved with the times. Traditionally, if visitors want a fortune telling slip (おみくじ omikuji), they make a monetary offering and randomly choose one from a box. Now, some shrines and temples have coin-slot machines that dispense them. Talk about modernization…
Finally, there are facial cream vending machines. These are the rarest of the lot, and can be found in some airports.
The sheer number and variety of vending machines in Japan certainly helps to make being in Japan highly convenient. And this being Japan, it shouldn’t be surprising if they increase the volume of non-beverage vending machines, and invent even more eye-opening types in the future. How about a car vending machine?