If you happen to be in Japan during the colder months you can stay warm by trying one of the hot beverages from Japanese vending machines. Yes, hot! In the warmer months vending machines around Japan are filled with the standard (and sometimes also not so standard) cold drinks, but once October comes the vending machines start offering hot beverages as well.
You will find a variety of hot (and cold) drinks in these vending machines (jidohanbaiki in Japanese). Hot coffee, green and black teas, hot chocolate, lemon drinks and also different kinds of soups. There are a lot of different vending machines, and they offer different beverages so look around. The price varies a little, but usually the beverages in vending machines here in Japan are between ¥100 and ¥150.
Hot beverages are marked with red or yellow, usually on the button and/or the backdrop. Sometimes, however, a red button might mean that the item is sold out, so make sure to check before pushing the button to not get a cold drink by mistake. あったか〜い, which means hot, is often written on the buttons.
Here are 3 must-try beverages you should get your hands on this winter in Japan (literally, they are great hand warmers as well!):
This "relax" type is from ITO EN and is my favorite (and the only hot kind I have found so far), so you will probably find it in the ITO EN vending machines. The only downside is the fact that it is a lot smaller bottle than the cold kind.
Hot Miso SoupIn some vending machines you will find hot soups! Corn soup is really popular, but personally I am not really a fan. But I do love miso soup! There are different kinds of miso soup on offer in vending machines, like the ones above: shijimi clam miso soup and tofu and abura-age (fried tofu) miso soup. What is better than a steaming cup, or in this case a can, of miso soup?!
Other soups I have found (but not yet tried) include onion consommé, vegetable soup and the sweet red bean shiruko.
Minute Made Hot Lemonade There are a lot of different kinds of hot lemon drinks to be found in Japanese vending machines, and I have tried a lot of them. Usually they are a bit to sweet for my liking, or just taste like hot orange squash (cordial). But the Minute Maid Hot Lemonade one is tangy and tastes great! This is a life saver when you have a cold or sore throat and it heats up your whole body. "Warms your heart and body" as it says on the bottle. It contains a little bit of honey, but it is not too sweet. A perfect hot lemonade!
Which is your favorite hot drink? Please let me know your recommendations for hot vending machine drinks, there are so many!