Imagine it’s eight in the morning. You have slept through your alarm and you have no time to fix up your daily cup of coffee. You rush out of the house in hopes you’ll catch the bus on time and will be able to purchase a coffee from a nearby shop. Unfortunately amidst your panic, you forget to bring money – your wallet is at home on the kitchen counter. This means that you are unable to buy yourself a cup of coffee, and the sick feeling of dread settles in your stomach. However, before all hell breaks loose, you’re able to pause for just one second and remember something vital. You’re in Japan and you’ve got your Pasmo.
Relief floods your system. Why?
To simply explain it, it is vending machine galore over here in Japan. They have machines waiting at every street corner. From soda to tea, these machines will sell hot and cold drinks for prices ranging from about $1 USD to $2 USD. However, for such cheapness, the drinks offered at these machines can either be a hit-or-miss. You could end up with a refreshing drink that you’ll end up being addicted to or you could end up with a drink that you’d want to throw in the trash after one sip. This phenomenon happens way more frequently if you can’t read any Japanese and you happen to feel particularly adventurous that day.
Today, you’ll be hearing me gush about these vending machines.
When I first got to Japan, I was amazed by the diversity of drinks. The drinks in the vending machines are not only limited to water, soda, and energy drinks – they have tea, coffee, lemonade, vitamin drinks, and even corn soup and ice cream. Not only that, but I hear that there are special vending machines that can even spit out steaming hot ramen for you to eat on the go. It’s mind-blowing. I wish I had a video of these special vending machines (especially the ramen one), but sadly, I have yet to visit any of them.
Anyhow, these vending machines are a huge life saver. The other day, I was on my way home from classes when I noticed my mouth was getting dry and my throat was getting rather scratchy. I figured I was catching a cold, so I decided to make my way to the nearest convenient store for a warm drink. Just as I was turning a corner, I spotted a vending machine. At the time, I didn’t know that the vending machines in Japan served warmed drinks, so it was a surprise to me when I saw the word あたったかい, which meant “warm” in Japanese. To make things even better, one of the drinks that were offered was warm lemonade with honey – a drink that was perfect for my throat. The drink itself cost only 110円, which is roughly about 1 USD.
It was the best 110 円 I have spent so far. The drink was sweet and warm, and it did wonders for my throat.
Drinks aside, the best part about these vending machines is that they accept IC Cards. With just one scan of a Pasmo or Suica card (popular IC cards used for the trains, subways, and buses), the vending machine will display your current balance on your card and tell you which drinks you are able to afford.
Talk about technology. It’s super convenient and it makes me feel spoiled because in California where I live, such a concept is completely foreign to me.
The ease of getting a nice drink in Tokyo makes me wish that my school back home offered the same services. Could you imagine how much better life would be if the vending machines in California were more common, technologically advanced, and offered healthier alternatives? It would be great.
Everyone would be able to easily get their drinks for a decent price.
Everyone would be happier.
Jokes aside (and in all seriousness): Japan’s vending machines are truly a blessing. If there’s one thing you should take from this post, it is that I love this country’s vending machines galore.