It’s a fact, Japan is completely filled with vending machines. The island has around 5.6 million coin and card-operated machines. That’s about one vending machine for every 23 people.
With that huge number of vending machines there’s also a wide variety of sizes and shapes adapted to every situation.
In those state of the art machines you can find a wide variety of goods. You will also often see machines that have a selection of over 30 different products ranging from juice, soda, coffee, tea, Japanese tea, and hot soup all in one machine. In addition to obvious items such as drinks (including beer and other alcoholic beverages), food; like fruits, rice, hot cans of ramen or soup can also be purchased.
One can also find vending machines for prepared food like sandwiches, hot dogs, ramen or cup noodles. There are even ones for cigarettes, books, newspapers, toys, card games or umbrellas for the rainy days too.
The most significant feature in the drink machines is the possibility of “attakai” (hot) and “tsumetai” (cool) drinks in the same machine. A machine operator can change the drinks depending on the time of the year. Recently, solar powered vending machines have also been developed.
Another nice feature installed in some vending machines is, that they are prepared to expend free drinks and water in case of need, like earthquakes or other disasters. It can even display disaster information like evacuation instructions. In fact, during the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011, over 100 thousand drinks were provided freely in the disaster stricken areas.
In addition to coins and bills, some of these vending machines also accept Suica cards
The most modern and high tech ones, like the one shown in the photo uses touch panel displays to select your product. That’s not all, sensors and cameras installed in the machine are also able to estimate the user’s age and gender to appropriately make suggestions of recommended products using information collected in studies.