How to Enjoy Japanese Vending Machines!

We call vending machines “jihanki(自販機)” which is an abbreviation for “jidohanbaiki(自動販売機).” You might say there are many vending machines all over the world, and yes, that’s right, but I bet you found many “jihanki” within a short-distance when you visited Japan.

A jihanki seems to me like a cafe where you can wind down when it’s a hot or a cold day.  Besides, you don’t need to wipe off the edge of a can when you drink it because Japan is one of the most immaculate countries…  I’m just joking. I won’t wipe it out for sure. Today, I’m going to share how to enjoy Japanese vending machines. Let’s dive right into it.

1. The Secret of Amazing “POP”

※In most cases, there are three dimensional sheets.

※Sometimes you can see a printed flat sheet.

A point of purchase display is known as one kind of marketing strategy. We usually call it “POP.” POP play a big role when customers choose an item at the last minute. This is because they often have a change of heart so advertisement displays need to attract more people. 

When you buy beverages at a vending machine, you may not notice the POP, but it is most probably a three dimensional sheet instead of cutting a real can in half. That’s how it exactly explains the features of the beverage. You can see what the beverage is in the blink of an eye. 

Why do beverage makers do that? First of all, cutting real cans is impossible due to cost. Then, You might think it would be enough to use just a printed sheet but this 3D sheet makes a big difference compared to just printed flat sheets. Actually this pop is not as simple as it sounds because you have to print before thermal foaming. It means, you have to calculate for the printing gaps before thermal foaming.  I think it seems like a daunting task, and that’s what Japanese are good at. This is good advertising, I guess. Sorry I might be geeking out a bit about “POP”.

2. Limited Promotional Campaigns for Vending machines 

※They often collaborate with famous anime characters for promotional campaigns. Why don’t you get such a rare popular anime toy? You can’t get it elsewhere.

Look at the bottom of the vending machines for what you can see. Sometimes they offer promotions at only vending machines so for those people who want to get limited giveaways, you shouldn’t miss it.

3. How to Use 

※ You can see how much the beverage costs. I miss the time when all beverages were only 100yen which was “one coin.”

It’s a no-brainer that you have to prepare coins or ¥1,000 bills. Some vending machines can accept digital payment like Metro cards, but you don’t rely on them. Coins are a safer bet, I guess. And then insert the coins and push the button. That’s it . Basically they have the same features as other vending machines. I attached my previous article below which was written about how to use meal ticket machines. Please kindly read it. 

4. Amazing and Funny Beverages 

A long time ago, there were only potage soup and “oshiruko” which is Japanese sweet red bean soup.

Now a ton of options are out there, and some of them have become fads on social media. Let’s look at a few of these.

※“Dashi” vending machines. Dashi is Japanese traditional fish soup stock. Actually you might know it because it’s been really famous for a long time since it’s on TV.  This company is a pioneer, I guess. It’s not for beverages, it’s for cooking, just in case.

※ The soup of a famous ramen stand. This is Ippudo, one of the most famous ramen stands in Japan. The taste has rich pork-born stock, and is perfect for people who feel hungry at lunchtime except for the calorie concerns.

※Shijimi miso soup. Shijimi is freshwater clam in English. It works for people who feel uncomfortable from a hangover. You might want to drink it after too much drinking!

※Ginger soy milk soup. Ginger warms your body and soy milk is good for your health. It goes well with a cold day.

※Isn’t it curry soup? It goes without saying that this smell is making my mouth water. Nothing beats this smell when you are hungry.

※Somgyetang soup. Somegyetang is Korean chicken ginseng soup with rice, one of my favorite dishes. On top of that, this soup has brown rice, and goes for only ¥100. I have to tip my hat off to it.

※Vending machines selling bread.
This vending machine is located next to a pastry shop.

That’s all for today. How was that? Isn’t it exciting when you realize that the Japanese vending machines you see every day without thinking are in all shapes and sizes? I’d say, Japanese vending machines are a kind of a small cafè where you can relax and enjoy yourself anytime and anywhere because of its variety of options. There are many kinds of coffee, for example black coffee, one with sugar added, one with milk made in Hokkaido, just to name a few. Many beverage makers are working their tails off and developing new flavors day by day. Let’s stop by some vending machines sometime and look at them. You might encounter new beverages and promotional campaigns. Thanks for taking the time to read my article to the end. I hope to see you soon.

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