We’re here to take you to a whole new level of Vending.
Vending machines are literally everywhere in Japan. If you find yourself in a place and there isn’t a vending machine in sight… chances are you’ve left the country! But they don’t just vend the obvious things like chocolate, crisps and cold drinks as you’d find in the UK. Putting underwear, gloves, neckties, batteries, bouquets of flowers and toy cars aside they also have hundreds of other things I’ve never come across before. Including…
1. Vending… Hot Canned Drinks
For 1-200 yen you can vend yourself a can of coffee (black or white, sweet or not) at perfect drinking temperature in an instant! And, when you’re on the go and need a quick fix… they more than do the job, not artisan brews, but fine! You can get cold drinks from the same machines too. They just recycle the heat given off from refrigerating one section to warm another… clever!
2. Vending… Your Dinner (Almost)
Lots of small eateries, especially ramen / soba / udon noodle places don’t handle cash inside. Instead, you vend your dinner ticket outside the store before entering. Then head inside with your vended ticket and hand it over. It speeds up the whole dining experience and turns it into seriously fast food with very little need for waiting staff.
3. Vending… Your Ideal Hot Fast Food Snack
Found in stations up and down the country these machines store frozen ready meals. Once you picked and paid up… it grabs your choice, defrosts it and heats it up ready for you to eat on the go. A microwave vending machine!
4. Vending… An Umbrella
Ok, not food related… but stood in the foyer of a hotel these caught my eye. Given how often we’re caught short in wet, miserable, drizzly London… how smart is that?
5. Vending… Beer
These are at the end of every corridor of every hotel we stayed in. It’s MUCH cheaper than the mini-bar option in the room and appears not to require any ID. As with so much of the Japanese culture it’s left up to trust and respect.
6. Vending… Gets Interactive!
One machine we saw at a station had a camera mounted on the front. If you stand in front of it then using facial recognition it works out your gender, age and nationality and based on previous sales info… recommends the top 5 drinks that are most likely to be suited to you, from the vast display. Seriously speeding up the time it takes for customers to choose. Amazingly, this isn’t new… it’s been around for 5-6 years, but we’re still yet to see it reach London!
Outside of Japan
8. I know that Hannah went to Amsterdam recently where Vending Croquettes was all the rage…. But what other food can be vended? Let us know and send us your snaps via Twitter using #SORTEDfood.
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