Some of the most unique and innovative – but also the strangest – vending machines are made in Japan. But how much do you really know about them? Here are 10 of the most interesting facts about Japanese vending machines.
High Volume Vending
According to Coca Cola, there are nearly four million vending machines in Japan, while the Japan National Tourism Board puts that number at 5.52 million. But the country with the most vending machines is actually the United States, where close to 7 million are installed – about one for every 50 people. When land area is taken into account, however, Japan takes the crown with the highest density of vending machines on the planet.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
Vending machines selling pre-packaged snacks like chips, chocolate bars and cookies are rare. More than half of all vending machines in Japan sell drinks. Often, both hot and cold drinks can be purchased from the same machine thanks to an energy-saving thermal recycling technology.
Out on the street, some vending machines sell cigarettes just like you would find at a convenience store. Not just anyone can walk up and buy them, however! A special age-verified ID card called Taspo is required, otherwise the machine won’t operate. The very first Japanese vending machine, created in 1888 sold cigarettes.
Some local farmers are turning to technology to get their produce to the consumer. Vending machines selling farm fresh eggs, fruits and vegetables are popping up, but they’re more common outside of the big cities. In places like Tokyo, large grocery corporations like Dole sell their ready-to-eat fruits instead.
Some vending machines sell alcohol, from cans of beer to bottles of sake. Like the cigarette machines, an ID is now required to operate most machines, but it wasn’t always that way. These machines are now mostly found in hotels, entertainment districts and sometimes residential neighborhoods where convenience stores are not that common.
The appropriate trash receptacle accompanies virtually all vending machines. This is not just because companies want to be environmentally responsible. It’s probably considered old-fashioned, but many people still like to finish their drinks at the machine rather than walk down the street with it. This is especially true on subway platforms, since drinking isn’t permitted on the trains.
Table of Contents
The contents of vending machines can run from the very practical and mundane – batteries, books and umbrellas – to the downright strange – clothes for pets, cooking sauces and bread in a can. Novelty vending machines are not nearly as common as drink machines, so be sure to shop while you can if you come across one.
For the sake of consumer convenience, many vending machines sell items that could either be embarrassing to buy from a store or embarrassing to run out of. This includes things like condoms, lingerie, feminine hygiene products, toilet paper and even diapers.
Thousands of Japanese vending machines are programmed to provide free refreshment during times of emergency, such as a major earthquake or tsunami. They contain backup batteries or generators so that they can continue to operate even during a power outage.
Those coin and button vending machines could soon be a thing of the past. JR East Water Business’s “Acure” vending machines are so high-tech, they’re equipped with facial recognition software and a touchscreen display. It can recommend drinks based on your age and gender, and when the screen isn’t in use, it advertises its wares based on the time of day and the season.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.