Food - Drink
Why A Japanese Town Is Overflowing With Antique Vending Machines
You may think that vending machines offer little more than stale soda and snacks, but ones in Japan sell everything from toys to floral bouquets to full meals and desserts on-the-go. Japan has more vending machines per capita than any other country, and one shop in a Tokyo suburb is overflowing with almost 100 antique machines.
The Rat Sunrise tire shop in Sagamihara has more to offer than new wheels for your car. Proprietor Tatsuhiro Saito has instated over 90 vending machines from the '70s, '80s, and other decades, so customers can have a drink or bite to eat while waiting — and Saito himself stocks the machines whose suppliers have gone out of business.
Saito began collecting vending machines because they were “brightly colored and fun just to look at,” but began repairing them for use in 2016. He told that a local company supplies his instant-burger vending machine, but he and his staff prepare noodles, toast, and bento boxes every day for other machines.
Vending machines first appeared in Japan in 1888, but became popular in the 50's, and the technology evolved to serve large volumes of people in densely-populated urban centers. Today you can find burgers, pizza, noodles, curry, and more in Japanese machines, and hot food vendors are also popping up in the U.S.