Japan has the most amount of vending machines per person in the world. Because of the population of people and there is a very limited, space vending machines are very popular things in Japan. A lot of people on foot and bike use them. Since there is very little crime in Japan it is not that often you will find a vending machine vandalized leaving it out of order, which makes them a great way of selling things to people that are on the move.
You find vending machines everywhere in Tokyo. It seems every small side street, car park and train station will have at least one. Normally it will be a row of them, selling different sorts of drinks.
The most common vending machine we have come across while out in Tokyo was the drink ones where you normally find fizzy drinks, like Coca-Cola and Pepsi. You will also find a lot of machines that just sell energy drinks too, and then you have the machines that sell warm drinks. Sometimes there will be a machine for each sort of product and in some of them you can find all of the above products in the same machine. The cold drinks are normally marked with a blue colour around the selection button, and the hot drinks would have a red colour around them. Depending on what time of the year is it, the hot drinks might be available more or less.
You can also find vending machines that sell hot food, like burger and fries and other fast food styl . Even though I looked for the machines I haven’t been able to find one in Tokyo as of yet. Other machines sell hot pasta noodles, which I’ve seen at a hotel we stayed in. A perfect late snack. And then, of course, there are machines that sell different candies.
Other machines that are a bit different can be ones that sell bananas, books and umbrellas, which all can come in handy of course. Machines that sell alcohol have a smart card reader on them that you have to swipe a card to prove your age.
A lot of smaller restaurants use vending machines to sell their food. Normally the machine will just be outside the entrance of the restaurant. On the machine you will find pictures of the different dishes available to buy. You put your money in, choose the dish you want, and then it prints out a ticket that you take in to the restaurant and hand over to the staff to get your food.
You can also use your Suica transport prepaid card to buy stuff. The machines will detect the amount due from your card for you, which comes in handy if you don’t have any other money on you at the time.
Some vending machines even have cameras in them that try to detect what sort of mood you are in and decide what sort of drink would suit that mood.
Do you have any experiences with vending machines in Japan?