Culture Food

Japan, The Country of Vending Machines

If you are in Japan, you must have noticed that vending machines are almost everywhere, offering a lot of different products such as drinks, cigarettes, or also cheap train tickets. With more than 3 million all over the nation, finding a vending machine here can be easier than finding a baguette in Paris!

Vending machines in Japan

The first Japanese vending machine appeared in 1888, and was selling stamps and postcards. At this time, they were just seen as strange new devices. However, in 1967, the number of 100 yen coins in circulation increased significantly, and therefore allowed Japanese people to use more vending machines.

Today, about half of the vending machines found in Japan are selling drinks.This success can be explained by various factors, such as the importance of drinking in Japanese culture, as well as the low rate of vandalism and the fact that Japan is a cash society.

Using vending machines

When using a vending machine, here are some tips:

・If you are looking for a drink, make sure to check if you are about to buy a hot or a cold drink. The hot ones are indicated by a red line and the word あたたかい (atatakai/warm), and the cold ones by a blue line and the word つめたい (tsumetai/cold).

・Credit cards are not accepted, but you can pay with your Suica or Pasmo card.

・Some vending machines offers a lottery system. When you buy a drink, you can win another one for free.
 

・Nowadays, you can find new kind of vending machines, with a touch screen and a facial recognition system. A camera is used to scan your face and determine your age and gender. The machine then recommend you the appropriate drink according on your personal characteristics and sometimes on the weather.

Whether you are looking for drinks, food, figurines, or even used ladies' underpants, Japan's vending machines surely have one for you!