🔖 4 min read

Japan commands much attention in modern pop culture, from music to video games. One part of Japanese culture growing in popularity is vending machines. These machines dispense necessities as well as unusual things not sold elsewhere.

If you’ve seen Jurassic Park III (on DIRECTV STREAM), you probably remember the scene with a vending machine being broken into. Jokes apart, these machines are rarely vandalized or damaged in Japan.

A deeper dive into Japanese vending machines highlights how much of a modern icon they are.

Treats to Keep You Going

The bigger cities in Japan, particularly Tokyo, have so many things to see and do that you’ll work up an appetite quickly. Vending machines are abundant in these settings and are new to many visitors. Getting tasty treats to carry is the best way to take advantage of the sights without queuing up for busy takeaway restaurants.


Some machines dispense cooked cups of Ramen noodles featuring a variety of regional flavours. These noodles include spicy and non-spicy options for your tastes. The options in Japanese vending machines are tastier than the varieties sold in Western shops.

Soup dumplings

Soup dumplings might meet your needs if you seek something closer to a takeaway meal. Jin Din Rou’s vending machines serve dumplings which see some of the highest demand. Jin Din Rou restaurant represents one of the top soup dumpling chains in Tokyo.

Orange juice

Fresh-squeezed orange juice is a favourite among the Japanese, making it a delightful addition to vending machines. The machines that dispense this juice peel and squeeze the oranges in about 40 seconds. Adding fresh orange juice to these machines has increased its popularity among the Japanese.


You can finish your day with a cake in a can made in the creamy Hokkaido style. The cakes have achieved quite a following on social media, increasing their popularity. Despite the relatively high price, many travellers are quite happy to try them.

Horror-Style Machines

These machines don’t have anything to do with the horror film genre. The machines are of mysterious origins and feature various sorts of items crowded into every corner. One of the main attractions of these machines is the element of surprise with the items available.

Some of the items showing up in these machines include:

  • Toothpaste
  • Batteries
  • Canned goods
  • Mystery story boxes
  • Popcorn
  • Toy beetles

Some visitors have been fortunate enough to get very unusual items. Others have paid loads of money getting things not worth the cost. You should use your judgment to decide if these machines are worth the time and money you might spend.

Age-Restricted Machines

Japanese vending machines include options that offer treats for adults. These items include alcohol, tobacco, and CBD products. Users must be 20 or older, and it’s good to know that some of these machines only accept IDs available to Japanese residents.

Many of the alcohol vending machines have moved from the streets into stores. Some of the most popular drinks dispensed from machines include craft beers. There are still machines that dispense cigarettes, but these have decreased in demand in recent years.

CBD has grown in popularity in recent years, especially among younger adults. One of the most popular types of CBD is vapes. The refills on these vapes may cost quite a bit, so watch the prices.

Specialty Items

These sorts of items might otherwise be found in department stores. However, when found in vending machines, these items are fun discoveries. If you want a way to find unique items to bring home as souvenirs, the vending machines are often your best chance.

King’s Treasure Box machines are present in major transit hubs, particularly in Tokyo. The boxes contain mystery items, many of which are exciting to receive. Although these boxes have been a vending machine feature for years, they have recently become popular.

Hanko stamps and personal seals have often been used as substitutes for document signatures. Vending machines present in many stores make creating hanko stamps an easy process. If you want to create one as a souvenir or gift for others, one of the machines can create one quickly.

If you’re an anime or manga fan, there are machines featuring these favourites in many stores. Cards and figurines are some of the most common items offered.

Vending Machine Culture in Japan

Japanese vending machine culture makes shopping for unusual items and daily-needs products easier. Anything that is available in Western convenience stores can usually be found in vending machines in Japan. Despite the chance of damage or theft, these vending machines are known to operate safely for years even in sparsely-populated areas.