Thursday, July 29, 2010

Vending Nation






The Japanese will never die of thirst (or hunger).

One of the things you will notice is the INCREDIBLE number of vending machines in the country, even in older, smaller towns. I do not have actual statistics but it is known that Japan has the MOST vending machines per capita in the WORLD. They are always brightly lit up and stocked with a colourful array of all types of drinks imaginable, beer, flavoured water, coffee, milk tea, soft drinks etc. Not your usual Coca-Cola and Sprite, mind you, but products from major Japanese beverage makers like Suntory and Kirin.

Prices are not too high; on average it is anything from 100 yen to 150 yen (Tokyo vending machines are generally pricier). Samurai T and I absolutely love to buy different drinks to try, particularly those that we cannot find back home. I especially lurve the milk teas - they are super delicious. There are some misses as well - some of the roasted green tea drinks are so bitter they choke you, but I can never fault their packaging - always look so nice and appetizing (regardless of actual content).

Besides drinks, we see vending machines for cup noodles and even ICE CREAM (see pic above). We have tried the ice cream, and they tasted quite yummy. Apparently there are also vending machines for stuff like underwear, but I haven't seen any yet. We did encounter vending machines for buying entrance tickets to tourist sites (Osaka Castle), which was quite interesting to me. You can also order meals in a restaurant (normally the low end ones) via the vending machine - press and pay for your order at the machine located at the entrance, take the ticket stub to the counter and collect your food. Problem was, the first time we patronised such an establishment, all the labels were in Japanese. We needed a Caucasian man (tourist or student??) to come up and helpfully teach us how to utilise the machine. How embarressing. But the food was not too bad, and cheap of course, starting from 500 yen upwards.

Japanese vending culture is cool!


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