Thirsty for a drink? Hot or cold? No worries, just walk 3 minutes in any direction in urban Japan and you are likely to bump into a vending machine oasis to quench your thirst. After a few days in Kyoto, we noticed the many machines, but it was on our 3rd day while in Osaka that I was really blown away by my vending machine experience. It was a warm afternoon and we had been walking all day. I stopped at a vending machine and saw that they had 20 different types of iced coffee. The cost was 120 yen which can be paid with coins or using Pasmo/Suica/Icoca card. I put in the coins and pushed the button for the coffee. Then I bent down and grabbed the can – to my surprise the can was hot… really hot! This was not iced coffee, but a vending machine that served hot coffee in a can?!? As I learned more about these machines, I saw that each item was clearly marked either in blue (cold) or red (hot). See photo below, you will see hot items such as coffee, tea and corn soup in cans ready to drink.
Vending machines usually have trash cans right next to them. As mentioned in a previous post, Japan’s urban cities are spotless, yet there are no trash cans to be seen anywhere. When ordering a drink from the vending machine, it is not typical to walk and drink your purchased item. Rather, drink it on the spot and throw it away when finished. While we saw these drink machines everywhere, we rarely saw snack vending machines for salty or sweet snacks.
While at the Tokyo Onsen Odaiba Monogatari I saw a different type of vending machine, one that I had not seen before. This was a hot food vending machine with items such as Takoyaki, Gyoza, Rice Balls, French Fries. Works just like any of the other machines. The food is frozen. Once selected, the item is dropped to a microwave to be heated and then you receive the hot, ready to eat item.