Japan’s Vending Machine Craze

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Copyright: Okinawa Soba

By: SHANNON MURPHY

One of the first things I noticed when arriving in Okinawa, besides the ridiculously, beautiful blue ocean water and the prominent use of signage on commercial buildings, was the vending machines located everywhere.  I am really not kidding.  They.  Are.  Everywhere.  Some are in useful locations, such as the front of a public building.  Then I started to notice them in a parking lot or at a playground.

Japanese locals will stop their car on the side of a narrow road, block traffic, run out, buy a drink, and run back to the car.  Usually, these machines carry items such as coffee, tea, juice, soda, and even BEER!  I personally have only seen beverages in the machines located in Okinawa.  However, I have heard of vending machines that sell hard boiled eggs, milk, rice and umbrellas.  Mainland Japan tends to have the machines selling the more unusual items.  I found a fun website with a list of the most bizarre items in vending machines around the world.  You can check it out here.  It listed finding lobsters and neckties in Japan vending machines.  Really?!  So, if you are ever in Japan, do not fear.  You will always be close to a machine to quench your thirst or perhaps pick up a lobster for a delicious dinner.

Below are some of the machines I have seen in Okinawa.

Left: This one is located in an apartment building parking lot next to the sidewalk.
Right: Leaving the apartment to head to work? Grab a coffee at the machine on your way out the door!

My son saw this one at the playground and wanted a juice.

Another unusual spot, at a street intersection.

Just got a haircut at the salon? Grab a drink!