Japanese vending machines

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One for every twenty-two citizens

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Vending machines with hot drinks. Vending machines with beer. Vending machines with t-shirts. It was paradise. Anywhere you went, whether it was up a mountain or inside a train, you could buy a cold drink, they were reasonably priced, and they were always fully stocked. I couldn’t believe it.

This quote comes from Tim Easley, photographer of our main image. It is taken from his intro to his book that is in its entirety dedicated to capturing the awesomeness of the uniqueness of Japanese vending machines[Cf]

There are (as of 2017) around 5.4 million vending machines in Japan (jihanki in Japanese), meaning about one for every twenty-two citizens. [Parry 1997, p123] There are many different kinds of machines, like food (candy, soup, hot meals) and canned-drink (soft drink, coffee, tea) machines, but also cigarettes and alcohol. Additionally, there are specialty machines, like a vending machine for flowers. Gashapon machines, a kind of small vending machine that holds capsule toys with limited (merchandise) items, are very popular with children and tourists alike.

Vending machines can’t be overlooked when visiting a city like Tokyo. They are incredibly easy to use when on the go, and this convenience has helped with their popularity. Because of the low crime rate, vending machines can stand safely on the street and the vendor can be assured that no machines, or at least a very low percentage, will be vandalised or robbed.[Ibid p124]