Friday, December 17, 2010

Vending Machine Paradise

One of the first things that most foreigners notice when they land in Japan is the number of vending machines. The moment you arrive at Narita airport and make your way out to the arrival lounge or to the parking area, you notice vending machines. No wonder  at 1 vending machine per 23 people, Japan has the highest number of vending machines per capita !

Most common vending machines are those vending canned and bottled beverages. These vending machines are so common that not finding one every few hundred metres down a road seems odd. You can buy cola, green tea, Japanese O-cha, Milk tea, Coffee, Milk, juice, water just about anything.
Most drink prices begin from 100 yen a bottle and the rate varies based on the location. Every tourist place, office building, rest area, department store, gas station  and even shrines will definitely have at least one or two vending machines. You are assured that while in Japan you will not go thirsty!

Then there are the standard vending machines which are common in other countries - subway ticket dispenses, gaming machines, parking tickets.This is the Tokyo metro ticket vending machine.
But when it comes to the variety of vending machines, you just can't beat Japan. Japan has vending machines for almost anything that you can imagine from food and drink to liquor, ice, disposable cameras, umbrellas, toilet paper, toys, neck ties, flowers and even 10 kg rice bags ! 

See it to believe it….

Ice Cream Vending machine 

Cigarette vending machine

Beer vending machine

Ice Vending machine

Egg vending machine

 Battery Cell vending machine

 Umbrella vending machine
                         
Disposable camera and camera film vending machine

There are some food joints where you order your food from a vending machine. You pay for the food and take the ticket at the vending machine, but the food is freshly prepared and served at the table or service counter. Talk about reducing queueing time ! A boon for foreigners - you can order by seeing the picture of the food rather than attempting to explain while ordering.

There are also Instant ramen vending machines :

There are shoe shine vending machines- insert a coin and get your shoe shined. Perfect for business travelers and office going people.
In some hostel type accommodation, people have to insert coins to use the showers and water runs for a particular period of time and to keep the water running you need to insert more coins.

Then there are the pay TV and VOD card vending machines in hotels across Japan.

Most vending machines accept coins in the denomination of 10,50,100 and 500 yen and offcourse notes of 1,000, 5,000 and 10,000 yen. Nowadays with “O-saifu Keitai” literally meaning “Mobile Wallet”  payment at vending machines can be made through cell phones. This service was introduced by NTT Docomo and now many other cell service providers also provide this facility. 

Loaded with a few 100 yen coins you can buy just about anything from vending machines in Japan. Do look out for interesting vending machines while in Japan and especially in Tokyo.  


And finally here is the Japanese word for the vending machine: "Jidohanbaiki". 

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