Japan is a fast-paced country with vibrant energy and to keep up with the speed, convenience is key. From convenience stores to vending machines, almost anything can be purchased instantly and cheaply. It is said there are over 5.5 million vending machines throughout the country. From umbrellas to eggs, ice cold beverages and something called “flying fish soup”, vending machines have it all.
Here are a few unusual or interesting vending machines to look out for in Japan.
If it is a rainy day in Tokyo and you don’t have an umbrella, rest assured there is a vending machine for that. This is truly one of the most convenient ways to purchase an umbrella as most days you do not need one, but as soon as the rain starts to come down, a quick stop at a convenient umbrella vending machine will solve your problem and keep you dry.
Not necessarily a food item you would associate with vending machines, neither is hamburgers but they have those too. Crepe vending machines in Japan offer a tasty crepe complete with fruit filling of your choice, and can also add other toppings including whipping cream or caramel. The best part and possibly the most impressive is that the crepes come out of the machine in a glass case to keep them from becoming smushed and helping them maintain freshness and shape.
From Sake to Japanese Beer, there are many kinds of vending machines selling all varieties. Cold beer machines are some of the most common in Japan and a great way to save money when purchasing drinks. A much different experience than ordering from a bartender.
There is no question that eating Ramen while in Japan is a must and ordering ramen can require a little bit of skill. The process of ordering from the machine and receiving a ticket is very common. Most offer English menus in which you select everything you want using the machine and once the ticket comes out this serves as your order to pick up your warming bowl of Ramen.
Corn Soup or Clam Miso
For an even simpler and cheaper meal, corn soup and clam miso are popular soup options from the vending machine. If you are looking for a quick meal that is inexpensive and authentic, grabbing a soup from the vending machine is not only convenient but delicious too.
One of those things you always don’t think you need, but as batteries run out especially while traveling you may need to restock your supply. Battery vending machines are quite common and make life much easier.
Maybe you under packed forgot some, or just need a fresh pair, but underwear vending machines certainly exist providing a few different colors and sizes. A simple click of a button and you can have a fresh pair.
For those business travelers who may be running late, or just want to change their look, there are also vending machines with a wide variety of ties making it easy to get dressed on the go.
Flying Fish Stock
Perhaps the most unusual is seeing a bottle filled with a fried fish surrounded in liquid. Do not drink this, rather use it for making soup. These bottles are intended to provide an instant soup broth to make soup, rather than a drink.
The possibilities are endless, from food to gift items and electronics, vending machines are stocked all over Japan. It has definitely made an impact on the culture of convenience.