A Guide to Quirky Vending Machines Around Japan

Vending machines are ubiquitous in Japan, with one found against almost every wall; in front of apartments, under bridges, outside restaurants and inside government buildings

When travelling to Japan it is imperative to try something at each. Enjoy vending machines offering almost anything you could need, from sake in Ishikawa, dashi in Kyushu, and eggs in Kagawa. Rest assured that the machines are kept in impeccable condition, meaning they’re always on hand at the push of a button.

Kyushu’s renowned dashi vending machine

Dashi is a rich stock that forms the base of most Japanese cuisine including ramen, udon, nabe, miso and more. Usually made from kombu (kelp) or katsuoboshi (dried smoked bonito flakes), dashi can sometimes be made from other ingredients, such as sardines, shiitake mushrooms, or, for those from the southern island of Kyushu, flying fish. Known as yakiago, fried flying fish is said to add a unique flavour and fragrance to soup stock, and has been used to make dashi in Kyushu for many years. Travellers can now get bottled Dashi Douraku soup on the go from special Dashi Douraku vending machines all around Japan with one of the newest additions being placed in the wealthy neighbourhood of Aoyama, Tokyo.

Egg dispenser, Kagawa Prefecture

In the countryside of rural Kagawa Prefecture, on the island of Shikoku, some egg farmers have come up with an ingenious update to the classic farm ‘honesty box’. Fresh eggs are loaded into the machine daily by farmers for local residents to buy 24/7 – perfect for those on the road in need of a protein boost.

Sake vending machines, Ishikawa Prefecture

From soft to alcoholic drinks, Japan has it all, today, visitors can get their alcohol dispensed from a sake vending machine. Located inside Kanazawa Station is Kanazawa Hyakubangai, a shopping and dining center, is an area called ‘Anto’. Within the Anto area is Kanazawa Jizakegura selling sake brands from all of the breweries belonging to the Ishikawa Sake Brewers Association. Here visitors will find a sake sampling vending machine, perfect for those looking to enjoy Ishikawa local sakes at an affordable price.

Enjoy canned bees and wasp larvae from vending machines in Inokashira Park, Tokyo

Finally, to the weird and wonderful Hachinoko. Visitors can buy the renowned Nagano Prefecture treat of candied bee and wasp larvae from a vending machine in Inokashira Park, Tokyo. Hachinoko (bee and wasp larvae) is a popular delicacy in Nagano Prefecture, part of the Three Star Road route, and has long been a traditional source of protein for the people in the prefecture. Bees and wasp larvae are harvested from their nests and cooked in the classic combination of sugar and soy sauce creating a candied crumbly snack to nibble on. Experience the unforgettable Three Star Road route starting in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture, tracing an arcing line through gorgeous mountains to a final destination in Ishikawa Prefecture.