My top 5 reasons why vending machines in Japan rock!
1. There are times when they look like this!
We took this picture a while back, I think it was in Akihabara - it was certainly in Tokyo somewhere. My husband being a fan of all things Marvel thought it was pretty awesome (hence needing to document it in photo form!) but hey - isn't it nice to see a machine looking so bright and exciting, even if Marvel comics aren't your thing?
2. You can get both HOT and COLD drinks from most of them!
Depending on the machine, of course - and depending on the time of year - you usually have the option of both hot and cold drinks from the vending machine. My picture above isn't the best example, since it only stocked cold drinks at the time - but if you can see below each drink where the price is indicated, the background is blue on each. For hot drinks, the background where the price is indicated is shown in red. It's so nice to be able to get a hot drink so easily in the winter time!
3. You can even get things like hot corn soup!
Coffee or tea not your thang?! In the cooler months you'll often see vending machines stocked with things like corn soup, or a warm red bean based drink. I can't say I've tried either of them myself - I promise I will one day, in the interests of research - but a friend of mine swears by the corn soup and thinks it's the best thing since sliced bread.
Those are the corn soup cans that I've seen in the vending machines, if you're ever looking for them!
4. You can find them within a stone's throw of anywhere. Quite literally.
It doesn't matter if I'm in the heart of Tokyo, or in the middle of a small and scarcely populated countryside town. I don't think I've ever been in a predicament where I've been thirsty and haven't been able to access a vending machine within a very short walk or bike ride. In contrast, if I was in my home town back in Australia and was out in the bush riding my mountain bike, if I'd forgotten to bring a drink bottle then it was a case of go thirsty or ride all the way back home (or to the nearest supermarket/petrol station, which was about the same distance as riding all the way back home!)
5. You can pay with your Pasmo/Suica card!
I can't count the number of times I've needed change to get something at a vending machine, and just havent had cash on me. For the most part, I tend to be a card-carrying person who doesn't really think about always having physical "money" on me. Problem solved when it comes to Japanese vending machines. As long as you've got credit on the same card you use for your train fare, you're in luck! No more going thirsty just because you're unprepared like me!
On the times I have actually had coins/notes, I've never ever had a Japanese vending machine eat my money and not dispense the product I wanted - and I feel like that has happened to me everywhere else in the world at least once. Three cheers for that!