Vending machines are a staple of modern life, and in Japan they are glowing from every lonely corner at night like some kind of urban lighthouses. They are certainly convenient, reliable, numerous, but in Japan they are also weird and fun and surprising. The majority of vending machines usually sell drinks or small snacks, but in Japan, feel free to expect the unexpected. Here are just 10 of the many wacky vending machines we have spotted in and around Tokyo.
Thirsty for some mystery? Or simply not knowing what to drink, overwhelmed by choices? This vending machine has you covered. At first it looks like any other unassuming vending machine, but there are a couple of blank drinks that just have a question mark. Put in the money, press the button and see what comes out! It’s a very simple but effective idea, and it sells out quickly, as people quench their thirst and their curiosity.
Spotted on Enoshima island, near Tokyo.
Bananas are the most convenient fruit, as you can eat it quickly with minimal mess. Because of that, Dole Japan unveiled the nation’s first banana vending machine where you can buy a banana to go for 130 yen each, or 390 yen for a bunch. And so crumbles the myth that vending machine food is unhealthy food.
You can find this vending machine at Shibuya Station, by exit number 3 on the first basement floor.
The banana vending machine in Japan is not the only healthy food around. Next, an apple vending machine has been spotted at Kasumigaseki Station, which is close to exits B1 and B3. They sell them conveniently sliced, so you can eat them on the go.
In Japan, there are many vending machines selling food produce like eggs, natto or rice. They are especially convenient for rural areas where there might not be as many shops and the ones that are there might not work 24/7. Even in Tokyo they come in handy, with life being super busy. Several rice vending machines can be found in rural areas and we recently spotted one in Kichijoji.
One more unexpected product from a vending machine is the love-it-or-hate-it slimy natto. Hard to imagine what would be the natto emergency, but who knows, there might be super fans of this smelly product. You can find this vending machine at the west exit of Ikejiri Ohashi Station. It stands outside the Yamanashi-born specialty shop, Natto Kobo Sendaiya. You can buy a pack of four Natto boxes for 230 yen.
Nissin is the most popular cup noodle brand in Japan and is no wonder they also have their famous cup noodles in a vending machine too.
What’s different from buying instant cup noodles and pouring hot water over them, you might wonder? Well, the vending machine prepares them for you and the cup of noodles comes out piping hot and ready to gulp down. There are several locations, especially in service stops along highways. One cup noodle vending machine has been spotted in Jingu Stadium.
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Everyone has been surprised by pouring rain at least once or twice in their lives. In Japan, you can get an umbrella from a convenience store or sometimes even more quickly – from an umbrella vending machine. Also, a perfect example how vending machines aren’t only for food.
Seen at Misato Station in Saitama and Hino Station.
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We saved the wackiest for the last (almost)! From bananas, to rice, one can even understand a natto emergency, but bottles of fish broth had us really puzzled. This broth is not ready to eat, but rather a cooking ingredient. Yet, this vending machine was not found in a rural residential area, but between the lively hotspots of Shinbashi and Ginza. At last, it turns out it’s a super popular dashi (fish broth) made from flying fish by Dashidouraku and it’s more of a souvenir than an emergency cooking ingredient situation. The bottles of fish broth also have a piece of fish inside.
The vending machine can also be found in Saitama, Mitsui Repark Carpark Ōmiya Station Entrance No 8.
Coming together in a symphony of convenience and endurance, several vending machines make a 24 hour restaurant inside Haneda Airport.
The aptly named, Automat Gourmet 24 restaurant is open non-stop and there is no staff, only vending machines. They range from the standard drinks and snack machines, to vending machines serving hot meals at the touch of a button. Some of the popular items on the menu are the popular Japanese street and festival foods like yakisoba noodles, takoyaki, and grilled onigiri. This vending machine restaurant is located in the Terminal Lobby on 1F of Terminal 2 in Haneda Airport.