Explaining How to Use Vending Machines in Japan for Foreigners! Also Introduces Interesting Vending Machines

2022/3/10 Updated

For foreigners, the large number of vending machines in Japan seems to be very interesting. In this article, we’ll explain how to use Japanese vending machines and the types of products they sell for foreigners. We’ll also introduce some interesting vending machines that sell unusual items.

Why are there so many vending machines in Japan?

Compared to other countries, Japan has a very large number of vending machines, and this has to do with the fact that it is very safe, so it is difficult for people to steal money, and also because it suits the busy Japanese lifestyle.

It’s safer and less likely to be stolen.

Japan is a safe country, so even if you place a vending machine in an unpopulated area, the money inside is rarely stolen. The fact that vending machines can be placed anywhere without anxiety is one of the reasons why there are so many vending machines in Japan.

It suits the busy Japanese lifestyle.

Many Japanese people work hard and stay busy, so the vending machine system is a good fit for them because they can easily buy and drink right away. Of course, cafes where you can relax are also popular, but when you don’t have time, vending machines are more convenient.

Anyone can get a job installing vending machines.

In Japan, anyone can easily do the job of setting up a vending machine. If you find a place where you can put a vending machine and contact the vending machine sales company, you can get some remuneration as a commission.

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How to use the vending machine

Using a vending machine isn’t particularly difficult, but if you’re not used to using them, you might get lost. So here we will explain the basic usage of vending machines.

1. Insert money

First, insert coins or bills into the slot. You can only use 10 yen coins, 50 yen coins, 100 yen coins, and 500 yen coins, and 1,000 yen bills. 1 yen coins, 5 yen coins, 5,000 yen bills, and 10,000 yen bills cannot be used in vending machines.

Sometimes you can buy them with a card or a phone.

Some vending machines in Japan accept transportation IC cards such as SUICA, credit cards or smartphone payments.

2. Select a product and press the button.

Once you have put in your money, select the item you want to buy and press the button. If the button light is off, it means you don’t have enough money yet. Put the amount of money written under the item. If the item is sold out, the lamp will say “SOLD OUT”.

How to tell the difference between hot and cold

There are two types of drinks in the vending machines: hot and cold. Hot drinks are labeled “warm” in red, and cold drinks are labeled “hot” in blue.

3. Take the product from the outlet.

Press the button and the product will fall into the lower outlet, so put your hand in and take out the product.

4. Receive your change

If you have change, it will appear in the change slot after the item is dispensed. It is common to forget to take change from a vending machine, so be sure to remember to take it.

If you have a lot of change with a 500-yen coin or a 1,000-yen bill, you can choose to buy another one as it is or finish your shopping and get change. If you press the change lever, your shopping will be finished and you will get your change.

What can I buy from vending machines in Japan?

You can buy all kinds of drinks from vending machines in Japan. However, not all types of drinks are always available in one vending machine, but you can choose from several picked up products.

The most common vending machine products are water, tea, coffee, tea, juice, and carbonated drinks. Other products such as corn soup and oshiruko (sweet red bean soup), which are somewhat unusual for foreigners, are also popular in Japan.

Introducing Japan’s most interesting vending machines!

In Japan, there are vending machines that sell a variety of things other than drinks. Looking for these unique vending machines is one of the joys of living in Japan.

bread vending machine

Bread vending machines are rather popular among non-juice vending machines. Some of the vending machines sell homemade high quality bread.

Vending machine of baked sweet potato

In some places in Japan, such as Kansai and Kagoshima, there are vending machines that sell “yaki-imo”. Yaki-imo is a food made by baking sweet potatoes as they are, and it is very delicious.

You never know what you’re going to get from a vending machine.

It is very rare to find a vending machine where you don’t know what you are going to get. For example, there is a “10 yen vending machine” in Osaka, where the drink display is blacked out with a “? mark, so that you cannot tell what you are getting. In this type of vending machine, water, juice, etc. are randomly dispensed.

Yakiniku sauce vending machine

Vending machines that sell only yakiniku sauce can also be found in several places in Japan. The Hiranuma Shoten vending machine in Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture, is particularly famous, selling more than 3,000 bottles a year.

Buddha statue vending machine

At a station called “Uzumasa Koryuji Station” in Kyoto, there is a vending machine with very small Buddha images, about a few centimeters in size. The price ranges from 500 yen to 1,000 yen, and you can choose from 40 different Buddha images.

Near this station is the Uzumasa Movie Village, a theme park that recreates the streets of old Japan, so it is recommended to buy a Buddha statue on your way back from sightseeing at the Movie Village.


Japanese vending machines have a wide variety of products and all of them are delicious, so they are a good choice for foreigners. It’s not particularly difficult to buy, and it’s fun to look for unusual vending machines.

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