Vending Machines in Japan

If you have ever been to Japan, then you must have noticed the country is covered with vending machines.

Tucked away in Tokyo’s alleyways to sitting roadside near rural farmhouses.

These machines are an essential part of life in Japan’s major cities and towns. Moreover, you will even find some vending machines in the countryside.

Cigarettes to Soba Japanese Vending Machines Stock It All

However, the cities have the highest density of vending machines due to the high population and readily available market.

Japanese culture is preoccupied with automation and robotics. This curiosity, according to Washizu, who published a book about the history of vending machines in Japan, is one of the major reasons for the machines’ popularity.

The nation’s manufacturers association affirms that Japan has up to 5.52 million vending machines installed in different parts of the country.

As of 2019, the country had a total population of 126.3 million. If you do the math, you will notice that one vending machine can serve up to 23 people.

Fresh Egg Vending Machines

Statistical reports show that 91.78% of Japan’s population lives in the cities, and that explains why the vending machines are scattered all across megacities like Tokyo, Yokohama, Nagoya, and Osaka.

You will find a vending machine on almost every corner of these cities. They are often aligned alongside streets to give people direct and easy access to whatever they may need.

Japan’s vending machines are filled with a myriad of daily and sometimes unusual items. Upon visiting Japan it will be up to you to select what you want to have and items that you didn’t know you even needed.

Alleys of Tokyo Filled With Vending Machines

The good thing about vending machines is that they are automated such that people can get what they need without relying on cashiers or when stores are closed for the night.

Vending machines operate round the clock, meaning you can buy a sandwich, beer, or sweet snack whenever you want

Some of the vending machines are highly advanced, thus making them even more appealing to tourists. As such, they are easy to operate, so you won’t have a hard time getting the item that you need. Some unique machines will even make you a freshly baked pizza or heat up a bowl of ramen.

Why Does Japan Have So Many Vending Machines?

If it is your first time visiting Japan, you will be amazed by the cluster of vending machines alongside streets, alleyways, train stations, and next to convenience stores.

Vending Machines As Art

This may make you wonder why one country has so many vending machines.

1. Reliable Management Systems

For any business to prosper, it must have a reliable management system, and that is exactly what Japan offers its vending machine industry.

Most vending machines in Japan are owned by large firms like DyDo, Coca Cola, Suntory, just to mention but a few.

Nonetheless, some vending machines are independently owned, but what the owners have in common is that they know how to keep the machines in top-class condition and fully stocked.

Beer and Alchohol Vending Machines

The machines are repaired from time to time and are also refilled regularly to ensure that customers get the items that they want.

2. Low Crime Rate

Japan is considered one of the safest countries in the world. This creates a good environment for the growth and establishment of vending machine industry in Tokyo and beyond.

Unlike most parts of the world where vending machines are often broken into, Japan has nearly a crime-free market for vending machine owners. This is why people find it easy to install the machines in different places around cities without the worry of theft.

vending machine in Japan, look like a work of art

3. Japan Is A Cash-based Country

Japan has a large volume of coinage in circulation. This makes it easy for people to buy items from vending machines.

In as much as most people in the country have electronic payment systems, a majority still prefer using cash as a method of payment.

Most all vending machines in the country require cash to dispense the needed items. Some may take a prepaid card or credit card as well.

4. Low Prices

The other factor that has led to the growth of vending machines in Japan is the low costs. This aspect covers the acquisition, installation, and management of vending machines.

Most firms and manufacturers lend clients vending machines, thereby slimming costs. As such, the firms can help with the installation and restocking of the machines depending on the business agreement.

Japan has a wide variety products sold in vending machines such as small-sized bags, small umbrellas, or even sliced fruit

Also, the items sold in vending machines are fairly priced. A good number of the products in Japanese vending machines range between 100 yen and 1000 yen.

5. Vending Machines Are Time Savers

As stated earlier, Japan has a large population density in its major cities. If people were to rely on convenience stores and shops alone, they would end up wasting a lot of time standing in long lines.

Toy vending machines (Gashapon) are not just for kids they have highly detailed tiny works of art that many people collect

Thankfully, vending machines have made things easy for Tokyoites and cities beyond since they can get the items that they want in a matter of seconds.

How to Use a Japanese Vending Machine

The simple answer is just like you do anywhere else. Except not exactly…

Vending machines are stocked with different items, so all you have to do is make payment and choose the item that you intend to buy.

Prepaid Cards For Vending Is Very Common In Japan

Vending machines in Japan accept both cash and prepaid cards such as Suica, Pasmo, Icoca, and half a dozen other IC cards. When using the former, you will be required to insert the money before selecting an item. The latter, on the other hand, requires you to make a selection before scanning the card.

What Can I Find In Japanese Vending Machines?

Vending machines on the streets of Japan are stocked with a wide range of items, thereby making them super convenient. That being said, you can find just about anything that you may need.

The vending machines are designed differently and can hold a large number of items at a go. Most of the machines have edibles like hamburgers, canned soups, coffee, energy drinks, rice, bananas, eggs, and many more.

Aside from food, you can also find vending machines in Japan stocked with umbrellas, contraceptives, batteries, and other useful items that can come in handy during emergencies.

Japan has some of the most unique vending machines in the world with products common and bizarre. These machines make life way easier since they can provide you with virtually everything.

As such, tourists from different parts of the globe find it easy to obtain items from the vending machines. It does not matter whether it’s your first time in Japan; rest assured that you will find a vending machine that has the items that you want.

MT Lee
My fascination with Japan began several years back at a roadside bonsai stand while on vacation. I became more interested in the where and why's more than the trees themselves. My love of Bonsai led me to further research my interest in the gardens where they originated from and the places and people that surrounded those little trees. My curiosity was well rewarded upon visiting Saitama where the National Bonsai Museum was located and Omiya Village the bonsai mecca for lovers of this ancient art form. Exploring many towns and villages and even making my way to Japan's furthest southern prefecture of Okinawa. I hope to share my love of this wonderful and exotic place with all those who want to know more about Japan.