Japan has one of the highest vending machines per capita measurements in the entire world, along with China, the Netherlands and Australia. There are approximately 5.6 million vending machines in Japan (that’s 1 for every 23 people). Why is this the case? What type of culture does this promote? With their long standing enthusiasm for robots and all things technology, Japan is leading the way with some of the most advanced vending machines and products.

Making their first appearance in the late 19th century, Japanese vending machines are often extremely old, yet they have proven to be extremely reliable and always tended to always be fully stocked. One reason this is possible is because Japan is a relatively safe country, with very little vandalism and public destruction. Therefore, vending machines are usually treated with respect, allowing them to function for many years.

It is possible to buy virtually anything from Japanese vending machines. Items include beverages and snacks, to hot meals, vegetables, fruits and other produce, electronics, floral arrangements, toys, umbrellas, undergarments, ties, hats and gloves, and cigarettes!

The Japanese culture is well-suited to the use of vending machines. Most people walk places and use public transit rather than driving, allowing access to a variety of vending machines. Using a vending machine for a variety of items is so common that purchases valued at over 100 dollars Canadian are common, whereas in countries such as Canada and the United States, vending machines are generally for items costing less than five dollars.

Vending machines are seen as a financially appealing alternative to human labour. Many Japanese businesses would rather invest in a good vending machine that will last them decades, rather than paying an employee who may quit at any time. It is also seen as an important part of the solution to Japan’s aging society, because aging and retiring workers can be replaced with machines.

Vending machines are so deeply rooted into Japanese culture that there are actually traditions around vending machine use. For example, elders in Japanese society find drinking and walking in public to be a sign of disrespect to the people you may cross. Many vending machines have an over-hang that allows the customer to stand beside the vending machine and consume the beverage that they purchased before continuing on their journey. Younger, less traditional consumers will break the tradition and walk with their beverage while drinking it if they wish. Also, privacy is highly valued in Japanese culture. Therefore vending machines are important when one wishes to buy a product that they might be embarrassed to purchase from a cashier in a shop.

There is no surprise that vending machines are keeping up with technology in Japan. Modern vending machines now accept electronic payments from smartphones and train cards, enabling them to check the age of the consumer for certain restricted purchases!

If you or your company think that you could embrace having a vending machine for the convenience if offers and the variety of options you and your co-workers can get from it them Contact Regional Vending for all of your vending needs!