Unique Vending Machines in Japan
It’s no secret that Japan loves vending machines, with everything from drinks to snacks, origami, and even umbrellas for sale in these “electronic shops”. It’s claimed that there are more than five million vending machines found across the country and the products you can purchase are quite extraordinary.
Dashi is a cooking stock which plays an integral role in Japanese cuisine, being used in everything from miso soup to noodle broths or combined with flour to batter grilled foods such as okonomiyaki. It is usually made from a kelp known as kombu or katsuobushi (fermented tuna), but in the southern island of Kyushu it’s often made with fried flying fish.
Known as yakiago, flying fish adds a distinct flavor and fragrance to the dashi and the Dashidouraku restaurant has a dedicated clientele who come just to eat this unique broth. So much so, they actually produce their own 1/2 liter bottles for customers and distribute them through vending machines.
The vending machines offer their signature dashi made with kombu kelp and a whole fried flying fish, together with a premium variety which features sodabushi (dried mackerel) for a more intense flavor. Keep in mind that the piece of flying fish is there to infuse the dashi with flavor and should not be eaten itself!
Dashidouraku has vending machines in Kanagawa, Aichi, Kyoto, Hyogo, Osaka, Okayama, Hiroshima, and Fukuoka prefectures, with four new machines just launched in Tokyo and one in Saitama.
3 Chome Shinbashi, Minato-ku, Tōkyō-to 105-0004
2 Chome Kōjimachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tōkyō-to 102-0083
Ōmiya Station Entrance 8, Nakacho 2-31, Ōmiya-ku, Saitama-shi
(If you want to know more about the address of Dashi vending machines, please check here: http://dashidouraku.com/free/jidouhanbaiki)
Price: 700 JPY per bottle (750 JPY for premium variety)
If you’re wanting a healthy snack on the run, you can also buy fresh apples at vending machines in both Tokyo and Osaka.
Commuters passing through Kasumigaseki subway station in the center of Tokyo can grab peeled, cut, and packaged apples at a vending machine which is tucked away near exits B1 and B3.
A second apple vending machine has recently been set up by the same company in the Suidobashi subway station and a third at the Life Namba supermarket in Osaka.
But these aren’t just any old apples. They’re sourced from Aomori Prefecture which is renowned as Japan’s most famous apple growing region, producing fruit of a high quality.
You can opt to have your apples peeled or with the skin left intact, with vitamin C and calcium added to the apples to prevent them from browning and keep them fresh and crunchy for longer.
1 Chome−3, Kasumigaseki, Chiyoda-ku, Tōkyō-to 100-0013
2 Chome−22−1, Misakicho, Chiyoda, Tōkyō-to 101-0061
1−4−1, Japan, Shikitsunishi, Naniwa Ward, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 556-0015
Price: 190 JPY per pack
Udon and Soba Noodles
Not only do Japanese vending machines serve packaged and processed foods, but also freshly made hot dishes to order. In Akita Prefecture, there have been vending machines serving Japanese udon and soba since 1973! Negi onion and a piece of fried kakiage are added to the noodles in advance, then boiling water and a seasoning sauce added when a customer presses the button.
The original owner of the vending machines, Sumio Sahara, recently tried to retire after more than 40 years of service. But his soba and udon noodles were so popular that,due to public demand, he re-opened with a new vending machine near Akita Port.
Sahara built all of his vending machines using second-hand parts and maintained them himself, with the inventory being filled throughout the day using freshly made soup.
Address: 1 Chome−7, Tsuchizakiminatonishi, Akita-shi, Akita-ken 011-0945
Price: 250 JPY per bowl
Want to learn more about Japan’s unique vending machines? Then be sure to check out our article here.