Japan Spotlight: Vending, Vending, Vending!


Editor’s Note: RePlay Assistant Editor Matt Harding has been working from and traveling in Japan this month and is sharing a few industry-related items in this week’s newsletters.

You’d be hard-pressed to walk more than a block in a Japanese city without seeing a vending machine of some sort. They’re scattered all over the Far East nation – in back alleys, countryside towns, tourist attractions and everywhere in between.

Most are soda, water, tea and coffee machines, filled with favorite American imports Sprite and Coca-Cola, peach-flavored waters, all kinds of local teas and usually a Gatorade-like drink called Pocari Sweat that I haven’t mustered the stomach to try. Ice cream and cigarette vending machines are other common machines.

There have also been a smattering of food vendors serving ramen and other hot meals. (I’ve found candy and snack machines, as we have in the States, almost nonexistent in my travels here.)

I also came across an interesting machine outside of Onomichi, which is the terminus of the popular Shimanami Kaido bicycle route that runs 60-something kilometers through the islands that connect the Hiroshima and Ehime prefectures.

This vendor had souvenirs, unique food options and, most importantly, a bike tire fix-a-flat kit that would set you back 1500 yen (just over $10). Luckily, I didn’t need that, though I did drink a lot of vending machine water and tea that day on my own 45-or-so-kilometer ride.


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