One thing that Japan has loads of are vending machines, primarily selling drinks but they also sell an assortment of different items as well. There are reported to be one vending machine per twenty people so they’re literally everywhere. One thing that fascinated me before I went to Japan for the first time was watching videos on YouTube of people using and videoing their experiences with these vending machines.
So I decided to make my own video and show the different machines that I found in different parts of Tokyo and also to show what types of drinks you can find in them.
Depending on what time of the year you go, you can find cold drinks, hot drinks or both in different vending machines.
Japan is littered with those gashapon vending machines everywhere you look. From the sidewalk to train stations and just about everywhere else as well. Sailor Moon has been on a promotional spree lately all due to the new series coming out so Bandai have been putting all sorts of merchandise with Sailor Moon on it. Unfortunately, a lot of it is quite expensive which left a lot of fans upset.
Bandai have seemingly come to the party on this and released a line of cheap compact mirrors from the Sailor Moon franchise but the best part is, they can be picked up from a gashapon vending machine. The mirrors will only set you back ¥300 which is peanuts, really. There five different ones to collect and yes, they all come with working mirrors as well.
In Japan there is a vending machine for quite literally everything. From hot/cold drinks, ramen, t-shirts and yes, ladies underwear as well. Now you can add some new anime goods to the mix. Attack on Titan which was does huge business in Japan has now had paper figures made of the popular characters from the series to be sold in vending machines.
The paper figures will be bundled up and sold through the machines supplied by Bandai and will set you back ¥200 each. There will be eight different figures you can snap up, each one measuring in at 65mm tall. The eight characters are Hanji, Levi, Eren, Mikasa, Levi Cleaning Version, Armin, Eren Cleaning version and Colossal.
March 30th heralds the release of the film, Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods in Japan, so to mark the occasion, themed cans of soft drinks will be making a return to Japanese vending machines.
The drinks, Dragon Ball Cola Zero and Cider, will contain six different designs when they load up in vending machines on February 25. The cans of Dragon Ball Cola Zero will pay their respects to the Saiyan Saga while the Cider will have images from the Frieza storyline. And both drinks will contain a bevy of ‘vitamins’ to see you through the day.
The last time DBZ cans hit the streets was March 2012 when DyDo DrinkCo did this for the “Heroes Hall Can Reprint” series. Those cans featured Son Gohan, Vegeta, Son Goku, Piccolo, Frieza, King Kai, Trunks, Cell, Super and Saiyan Goku. The drinks were marketed as containing “the heavenly power of seven” vitamins. These were vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin C, niacin, pantothenic acid.
Vending machines. Often seen in movies, animes, manga and even snapshots online. You know they’re all over Japan but nothing can quite prepare you for just how deep their penetration is and how literally on a city block, you can see more vending machines selling more than just drinks. The drinks themselves are varied and seasonal meaning that depending on what time of the year you travel to Japan, determines what you find in the machine. Example being, when my wife and I went last year in March and it was still quite chilly, the vending machines sold cold drinks, as one would imagine, but they also served up hot beverages ranging from coffees and lattes to a hot lemon drink which I assure you is extremely tasty. As opposed to when we went back in September when it was quite hot, around 35 degrees Celsius, there wasn’t a hot drink to be seen in any vending machines we checked out. And also, a nice touch is, often there’ll be two of the same drinks and you might be thinking which is hot or cold? The price tags are either blue or red, blue for cold and red for hot. It’s a simple touch but effective.
The way it works is that there’s one machine for every 23 people, that’s quite astounding when you think of it. In Melbourne, you only see them in shopping centres, outside a milk bar and maybe along a strip of shops but you don’t really seem them standing there by themselves in the middle of nowhere. In Japan, this is exactly where you’ll find them, on street corners, in little alleys, outside train stations and even at temples. There’s even a photo I saw where I’d have to say I didn’t expect to see vending machines – at the top of Mt. Fuji! The machines themselves are privately owned so anyone owning a little piece of land can place one there and as long as they keep it well stocked, a tidy profit can be made. Also these same land owners will sometimes choose to rent out these spots and someone with a vending machine can place it there.
As for the conditions of the machines themselves, they are always impeccably clean and I can honestly say I didn’t see one out of order. The machines don’t just sell beverages, I’ve heard of some machines selling girls’ underwear, never saw those, maybe in a seedy part of town? They sell Ramen, mobile phone toy straps, iPhones and iPods and even instant spaghetti, in fact, if you can think about it, chances are there’s a machine for it. Another interesting side note is, we never saw one vandalised. Ever.
Just recently I ran across a video of the latest in vending machine technology, a machine with a transparent LCD screen that displays content in full HD with a camera that can detect if you’re male or female, old or young and will display ads on the screen that fits your general demographic. Even when it isn’t being used, it’ll display images and animations to capture your attention and turn you into a customer. There’s a video of this below as well as some personal pics of mine and some YouTube clips that I think perfectly sums up just what it is about vending machines that makes them uniquely Japanese.
Amazing technology that will be emerging out of Japan in the coming years