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Six of the Strangest Vending Machines in Japan

Japan loves its vending machines. Take a stroll through a metropolitan center or just walk the long way to work. You'll encounter countless machines full of ice-cold drinks, ice cream, or soup; you name it.

The ubiquity of these self-serve machines implies that they are remarkably profitable. Certainly worth the electricity. I've been to incredibly remote areas of the country, and to my surprise, I'm never far from the comforting buzz of a coca-cola machine.

Indeed, Japan takes vending machines to the next level. While most machines offer run-of-the-mill items such as beverages, look hard enough, and you'll find a few diamonds in the rough.


Japanese society is pretty lax when it comes to alcohol. People are known to drink excessively on outings with coworkers, quietly stumble home without incident, and wake up to do it all over again. Despite being redfaced and a little shaky, most inebriated individuals rarely cause trouble.

As such, vendors feel comfortable selling beer and liquor from machines. If it were my home country of America, every machine would be ransacked by teenagers in a matter of minutes. Yet, for whatever reason, that doesn't happen in the land of the rising sun. Individuals simply need to throw in a few coins, hit the correct button, and enjoy. No laws limit public drinking in Japan, so you can crack the tab and drink straight away.


If you’re gonna offer beer, you’d better have pizza. While they are much harder to find than liquor machines, pizza vending machines are beginning to pop up across the country.

Indeed, pizza machines are the ultimate luxury. For about 1000 JPY ($9.30) you can get your pie to go—forget about delivery. YouTuber XmarksTheSpot came across one such machine while she was in Hiroshima. While it took a while to cook, the pizza was crispy and delicious. It was even served on a metal tray with a pizza cutter handy.

Mystery Boxes

Spend some time researching “Japanese vending machines,” and you’ll quickly learn about the mystery boxes on offer from a back alley vending machine in Akihabara. It seems no one online can resist an alternate reality game like rabbit hole.

As you can see, the mystery boxes are haphazardly wrapped in paper on which are written quirky backstories. Tales of love affairs, male enhancement, accidents, and other random serial type side notes. Despite a significant build up, it seems most mystery boxes simply contain snacks. A very creative way to move excess inventory.

Used Panties

Ahhh, the crème de la crème of unsettling purchases.

If you’ve been on the internet before, you’re aware that there is a very active adult entertainment industry in Japan. While much of it harmless, a notable portion of it—at least from a Western standpoint—crosses the line. I’m not sure where exactly this falls. Skip to 2:50 if you’re in a hurry.

To be frank, I think it's all a bunch of BS. Sure a vendor could go to all the trouble and unhygenic hassle to collect a young lady's used underwear and offer it for sale. Or they could just buy a pair at the department store, ruffle them up, slap on a picture downloaded from the internet, and call it a day. But who knows, maybe I’m wrong.

Regardless, it seems these types of vending machines serve a need. Many have been covered online, and they appear to exist at random locations across the country.


Natto is a dish of fermented soybeans and a common breakfast item in Japan. On first glance the beans are sticky and pungent. Yet, I think it tastes good, especially served on rice. Nevertheless, natto is notoriously unpopular among visitors to Japan.

So what could make a stomach-turning snack even better? How about purchasing it from a dimly lit vending machine in midtown.

Now all you need is some rice. Bon appetit.

Religious Charms

We’ve covered Japan’s high-tech spirituality before. As changing lifestyles and demographics lead to a declining number of temple-goers, consumers are finding more convenient methods to stay in touch with their religion.

And as nearly everything is available in a machine in Japan, religious charms are no exception. Indeed, if you're in need of some extra prayer-power, just head down to Ueno with cash in hand.

By - Luke Mahoney.