Unique Food Vending Machines in Japan

  • 3 min read
Unique Food Vending Machines in Japan

Seemingly decorating every alley in Japan and often adorned with smiling Pikachus and local mascot characters, the world has long been obsessed with Japan’s vending machines. 

Japan is undoubtedly the vending machine capital of the world. According to the Japan Vending System Manufacturers Association, there are nearly 3 million vending machines in operation across Japan. Commonly filled with canned or bottles drinks (although many stranger options exist), these electric boxes are often located outdoors near stations, highway rest stops, and even rice fields. And with an annual revenue of over 5 trillion yen (approx. 36 billion USD), Japanese vending machines are among the most profitable in the world.

What many people don’t know, is that vending machines are slowly disappearing from the Japanese landscape. With the popularization of convenience stores, the total number of vending machines in Japan has decreased by over 30% since its peak in 2000. 

Vending machine operators have been waging a losing battle with convenience stores over the past few decades. Convenience stores offer a wider range of choices than the three to nine beverages offered in a majority of vending machines, and they don’t require customers to scan their IDs to purchase cigarettes. But the knock-out blow likely came in 2011, when convenience stores began selling freshly made drip coffee for only ¥100—less than the price of canned coffee out of a vending machine. 

However, while the total number of vending machines in Japan is declining, the number of vending machines selling food is on the rise. Food vending machines currently only make up 1.8% of the total market share but have seen a huge spike since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

As mask mandates and social distancing guidelines were implemented, demand for an alternative to restaurant dining grew. Many restaurants that faced limited hours and occupancy restrictions turned to street-side vending machines to offer their customers a chance to enjoy restaurant-quality food without ever having to interact with another person. And new technology, allowing for a wider range of packaging options and contactless payments, led to a sudden rise in unique products sold in vending machines across Japan. 

Today, customers can buy takoyaki, caviar, ramen, and even wagyu beef straight from a vending machine. And as the trend continues to catch on, businesses are beginning to offer new—and sometimes strange—options.

We’ve put together a short list of some unique vending machines in Japan to check out on your next trip.


Unique Food Vending Machines in Japan

Premium Wagyu

In 2021 Yazawa Ranch placed a vending machine outside of their farm in the Aichi countryside allowing customers to have 24/7 access to their premium wagyu steaks. And with a 200g shoulder roast available for only 1800 yen, this vending machine is certainly one of the more budget-friendly ways to enjoy luxurious wagyu beef. 


Unique Food Vending Machines in Japan

Hot Pizza

While most pre-made dishes from vending machines in Japan are sold frozen with the intention of being prepared at home, there is a vending machine outside of a DVD rental store in Hiroshima that sells pizza piping hot and ready to eat. 


Unique Food Vending Machines in Japan


Sushi is not likely the first food that many would dare to sell from a vending machine, but Masunosushi, a local restaurant chain in Toyama prefecture, does just that. The restaurant sells its famous specialty, Masuzushi—a trout sashimi wrapped in bamboo leaves, in the traditional “wappa wooden packages outside of its stores throughout the prefecture. The vending machines are restocked daily to ensure customers are getting the same fresh sushi they would get indoors.


Unique Food Vending Machines in Japan

Edible Insects

MOGBUG is a company seeking to offer healthy and sustainable snacks through products made from bugs. From a cricket energy bar to a rhino beetle in a bag, this vending machine is most certainly for adventurous eaters. 


Unique Food Vending Machines in Japan

Cilantro That Doesn’t Taste Like Cilantro

There is no herb more divisive than cilantro. But the Pakuci sisters are determined to make even the staunchest cilantro haters into fans of the herb through their cilantro cookies, breads, and spreads. And the vending machine, located outside of their store in Chiba, gives curious consumers a chance to purchase from the small business owners any time.


About the author: 

Kimberly Matsuno

Kimberly Matsuno

Kimberly Matsuno is a professional content writer and editor from the US. Having spent several years living in the Japanese countryside, Kimberly holds a particular fondness for Japanese culture and cuisine—particularly anything made with shiso. You can view more of her work at kimberlymatsuno.com.

1 Response



August 16, 2023

I am looking to purchase a second hand Pizza Vending Machine from Japan. Where would you suggest I look forone?


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