What Do You Miss Most? Japanese Vending Machines!

Never mind the powder, we can’t wait to get back to Japanese vending machines.

So much stuff, usually cheap (especially the beer!), hot and cold in one machine. How do they do that?

Especially when you have to wade through armpit deep snow to get to them sometimes, like this night in Nozawa for Jerry Michal?

Wading through deep snow to a Japanese street vending machine in Nozawa Onsen
BYO shovel this night in Nozawa! © Shaun Mittwollen

Out of all the things in Japan that make you go, “wow, that’s cool!”, the vending machines are among the best.

You could probably live out of them — hot food, cold food, hot drinks, cold drinks.

It sure wouldn’t work most places having machines dispensing beer at random around the countryside. Yet for the respectful Japanese it seems to work OK. They manage to get drunk without rioting and expecially violences, unlike most western countries where public drinking is not usually allowed to prevent ugliness setting in.

Even weirder is to see them stocked with beer in 5 star hotel corridors right outside rooms with mini-bars. The vending machine beer is much cheaper.

Coin-operated sake tasting bars are another favourite of ours. The one is the station at Echigo Yuzawa is great for a few testers before catching the shinkansen back to tokyo after a big day at Gala Yuzawa, inter-connected Ishiuchi-Marayama, Iwappara, Kandatsu Kogen, Naeba-Kagura , or any of the 12 fun areas near the station.

Coin sake vending machines at Echigo Yuzawa shinkansen station
Tasty times Echigo Yuzawa © Owain Price / snowaction.com.au

From bustling shinkansen stations like Echigo Yuzawa to virtually the middle of nowhere, like Hakkoda near Aomori at the top of the main island, vending machines are ubiquitous across Japan generally, and Japanese ski areas.

Shout out to the hardy souls who keep them stocked and working. Coffee out of a can may not wash with the caffeine-cognoscenti, but when you’re freezing waiting for the next cable car ride it helps thaw out.

Then later, Special Malts anyone? Much more restorative, neve mind better tasting, then those ‘Sweat’ bottles..

Japanese vending machines keep working wven with a metre deep snow hat on them like this one at Hakkoda, Aomori
This machine was still working fine at Hakkoda despite the metre deep snow hat © snowaction.com.au

What’s your favourite Japanese vending machine item?

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