By N’Donna Russell

Japanese vending machines have long been famous for selling the most curious things, like flowers, umbrellas, and ties. But even with one vending machine for every 23 people and annual sales that exceed US$60 billion, one can still be surprised at what comes out of their take-out port.

Japan vending machine
Vending machines in Honmachi entertainment district, Tsuruga, Japan. Photo: Nevin Thompson/Global Voices.

User senegirl on Japanese curation site Naver Matome tells the story of three unique food vending machines found in three separate cities that have captivated Twitter.

In the city of Hiroshima, residents have been abuzz over the appearance of a pizza vending machine located near local hangout TSUTAYA, part of a national chain of bookstores in Japan.

A first in Japan? Seems that way… It’s a fresh-baked pizza vending Machine! (ha ha) I bet there’s an old guy inside making them.

The vending machine serves up two kinds of pizza: margherita (basil, mozzarella cheese, and tomato sauce) for about US$10 and four-cheese for about US$13 with a cooking time of just three minutes. TSUTAYA’s parent company, which is behind the vending machines, hopes to eventually have other such machines at bookstores across Japan.

In the meantime, locals are pleasantly surprised by just how tasty machine-baked pizza can be.

The first of its kind in Japan! A fresh baked pizza vending machine. (^^)

It’s near my word so I thought I’d go and try it. Here it is with my Lemonsco. I didn’t have time to get it, but next time I’ll give it a go! (*’▽’*)

Meanwhile, in Inashiki, a city located in the Ibaraki prefecture, about an hour by train northeast of Tokyo, one restaurant was found to have fully-functioning antique vending machines from the 1960s.

Along side the national highway at an old auto stop stands an old, nostalgic vending machine where you can buy bento boxes. For 300 yen (US$3), you can purchase a bento made by nearby store.

For 300 yen, travellers can purchase a simple meat-and-rice bento box with chopsticks. There are three types to choose from: fried chicken, pork cutlet, and grilled meat, with the last being the most popular choice.

The famous grilled meat bento machine featured on TV.

Finally, hidden in the city of Kagoshima, on the southwestern tip of the island of Kyushu, lies a fresh crepe vending machine. It’s located in Kagoshima’s Tenmonkan shopping district, hidden near a bus stop and reportedly difficult to find.

Those lucky enough to find this most unusual of vending machines are treated to tasty crepes at the cost of 200 yen (about US$2).

Kagoshima’s hidden gem: a crepe vending machine!

The vending machine serves a variety of flavours of crepe, including chocolate cream, caramel, strawberry cream, and cheese. The crepes are delivered in a glass bottle, which customers are asked to return after they are done.

With this machine being a one-of-a-kind favourite, some users are wondering if other cities also have one of their own:

“This crepe vending machine is in Kagoshima, but does anyone else have one in their prefecture?”

“No, we don’t. You’re so lucky…”

Global Voices are a borderless, largely volunteer community of more than 800 writers, analysts, online media experts and translators.
Global Voices has been leading the conversation on citizen media reporting since 2005. Global Voices curate, verify and translate trending news and stories you might be missing on the Internet, from blogs, independent press and social media in 167 countries.