Japan is the undisputed home of the vending machine. You can find your standard munchies and snacks in these machines, but across the ocean of vending machines in Japan, you are sure to find some exciting gems.
There are egg vending machines, banana vending machines, umbrella vending machines, and even vending machines that give user mystery gifts. In short, there is a vending machine for just about everything. In fact, there are an estimated 5 million+ vending machines scattered throughout the country on city corners, in train stations, and even in restaurants.
Today, we are going to look at some of the most interesting vending machines from the land of the rising sun.
1. Want instantly frozen coke? Just turn your bottle upside down
Frozen slushies are one thing, but what about a coke that transforms into a frozen drink in front of your eyes? This amazing vending machine from Japan (The gif above is based in Taiwan) deposits an ordinary cola into your hand which then turns into a slushie once you turn it upside down. Genius.
2. Get your caffeine kick and maybe a little more from vending machines
The work hours in Japan are notoriously long, so it makes sense to have a combination of coffee vending machines. Not just coffee but you can also get condoms from vending machines.
We all want to have a good time, you just sometimes need a little pick-me-up to do so.
3. Protect yourself with this surgical mask vending machine
Japan is a very polite country and one that is quite germaphobic. It is considered very rude to blow your nose on a tissue and then shove it back in your pocket.
This vending machine dispenses surgical masks so you can cover your mouth and nose if you have a cold as not to infect your fellow commuters. Or if you are paranoid that others are not doing the right thing, simply slip one on to stay disease-free.
Even more so during this pandemic, this machine can come in handy.
4. This puppy vending machine delivers your new BFF in seconds
Japanese pet stores are known for what appears to be puppy and kitten vending machines. These clear boxes with adorable animals have a door on the front and each animal is individually priced.
While we hope there is a little more attention paid to who is buying these cute little animals, this seems like one of those things that could only happen in Japan.
5. An instant shot of sake while you wait for your train
The famous sake, made from rice, is available in vending machines at Niigata Station. Sake is usually served with food but if you need a quick shot of liquor, this is the vending machine for you.
The machine offers a range of sakes to try ranging in alcohol strength.
6. An apple a day keeps the doctor away
In a country where everyone seems to be busy, it makes sense that there are vending machines dedicated to basic groceries. Especially ones that will keep you healthy.
If you need the satisfying crunch of an apple, look for the fruit vending machine at your local train station. There is a banana version of the machine too, if that is more to your preference.
7. A quality shirt is always around the corner
On your way to a date and didn’t have time to change or just spilled some ramen all down your front? Never fear - the t-shirt vending machine is here.
Selling basic t-shirts in a huge range of colors, you can pick up a basic t-shirt for just a few dollars. Living in Japan is literally like living in the future.
8. Don’t bother with a cafe, this latte art vending machine has you covered
You don’t need to go to a fancy cafe to experience the joy of latte art in Japan. Just look out for this cute vending machine and order your cute image on top of your daily caffeine fix, especially if you're a late-night engineer.
One of these machines has been spotted at Tokyo's Haneda Airport, where a decorated cup of coffee will cost about 200 yen (a little over $2).
9. Stay devout with an instant prayer card
If you have ever visited a Japanese shrine, you will have seen a large amount of Ema’s or prayer cards hanging outside.
At the Haneda Airport, you can purchase an Ema with a wish or prayer inscribed on it for 500 Yen.
10. Don’t mistake this flying fish soup with a refreshing juice
Each bottle of this soup contains one grilled mackerel in some delicious dashi stock. Apparently, the contents of this odd-looking bottle are the basis of a delicious meal.
Dashi stock is used widely in Japanese cooking, it is often made from kombu (kelp) or katsuobushi (dried smoked bonito flakes). It can also be made from mushrooms or in this case, flying fish.
11. The (instant) gift for every occasion
The perfect last-minute gift, this flower vending machine might not only save you time but your relationship too!
12. Could this hamburger vending machine put McDonald's out of business?
When fast food just isn’t fast enough, look for this crazy concept of a hamburger vending machine. A Tokyo restaurant has installed a vending machine at the front of its shop that it regularly fills with burgers. If you have no time to order, simply drop in some coins and be rewarded with a fresh(ish) burger.
The machine can pop out a classic cheeseburger in no time. We aren’t sure if they are good enough to put the golden arches out of business just yet but it sounds like a pretty good late-night snack to us. Would you eat this or meat made in a lab?
13. Satisfy your banana cravings with this banana vending machine
Maybe after all those vending machine hamburgers, you will want to try to finally eat healthily. Why not pick up a banana at one of the many convenient banana vending machines? Don't worry the fruit in the banana vending machine is regularly switched out.
14. Underwear vending machines
We don’t want to get into who the main customers are for this particular vending machine, but if urban myths have any truth in them it seems as though it isn’t just women buying these.
Though there are concerns about these particular vending machines, legally speaking.
15. The Playboy mansion brews a decent coffee
An odd combination. We have seen playboy branded clothing but never coffee. For some reason, the Playboy brand decided it would lend its name to this odd-looking instant coffee machine.
16. Stay dry even on the rainiest days
Forgetting your umbrella on a rainy day is the worst. However, in Japan, finding the right vending machine can help you avoid getting wet. Umbrella vending machines offer users a relatively durable and effective umbrella for even the rainiest of days.
17. Don’t arrive underdressed
Being inappropriately dressed at a Japanese business meeting is a huge faux pas. But this vending machine will ensure that scenario never happens again. You can purchase a tie in a range of fashion patterns for just a few yen.
18. Why not get your milk from a vending machine?
You have already gotten your bananas and burgers from a vending machine, why not get in your milk? When in Japan, do what the Japanese do. These milk vending machines come in a wave of different flavors and colors. Even more so, it is a big hit with people of all ages.
19. Popcorn vending machines are popping up everywhere in Japan
This one is for you, popcorn fans. These machines are also a big hit and could be a good addition to your snack after you have stopped by a milk vending machine. The colorful machine pops your kernels right in front of you after you have ordered and usually features an adorable popcorn mascot.