Beautiful photos of Japanese vending machines in the elements

Originally published at:


This reminds me, a little, of a pair of vending machines that stood in a wooden shelter in a small vacant lot around the corner from where I grew up. The enclosure was lit by a florescent bulb. They probably disappeared in the late 60s.

There was an ice machine (blocks or cubes!) and a milk machine. The later dispensed quarts in waxed paper containers. There was more than one variety, but I forget what. Skim? Chocolate?


If only those vending machines weren’t those beautiful photos.


A vending machine, brought inland by the tsunami, in an abandoned rice field inside the exclusion zone near Minamisoma in Fukushima prefecture, on September 21, 2013. [Catch the Wave!]


(Okinawa 2009)


My first thought on seeing one of these would probably be, “be cool, there’s an alien over there. Thank God he doesn’t know how absurd that disguise it. Just keep moving at a brisk pace…”

Thanks, Doctor Who, for the fundamentally British lesson that anything quirky is probably lying in wait to kill you.


The ubiquity of these machines was one of the delights of the visits I’ve made there. I’ve still not figured out what kind of animal a Pocari is, or why its sweat tastes so good.

While roaming around suburban Nara, found a couple of decades old ones:


Ah, the noble japanese vending machine in its natural habitat.
What a majestic creature!


Good to know that when out in the countryside in Japan, one can always obtain a can of scotch and some schoolgirl panties. /s

1 Like

I did actually see one machine in a shopping street in Osaka with beer in it - downtown party district near Namba station. But given I was on my way back from the 3rd craft beer bar of the night, I gave it a miss :beers:

1 Like

@AndreaJames thanks for this. I see these isolated machines sometimes but never see them like this.

Wow those are old! Its hard to find Ribbon drinks at all now.

Beer machines arent that uncommon but but because of “won’t someone think of the children!!!” less common than before.


The ribbon one was in the old town, Naramachi. The baseball roulette was on the more modern side of Nara - decided to take a stroll out to Yakushi-ji, was a longer walk than expected, mostly suburban and some light industrial.

This was my 4th and longest trip in 2 years - 14 hotels/inns in 21 nights. Once again, the temptation to not come home to England was strong, it is a fascinating and beautiful country. I may have to figure a way to spend a year or two living and working there - I believe you’re in Tokyo, yes?

My first port of call is a definite must-revisit - Iriomote:



Ifs funny how I sometimes only see parts of japan from tourist photos. Living and working here I’m just usually too damn busy to do any local travel.

I love the raffish lookig kid (?) on the side of the Ribbon machine.

And that tatty awning over the Baseball Routlette is wonderful. I wonder if there’s a little factory that still makes those.


According to my wife who enjoyed Ribbon as a little girl, the logo girl has a name but she couldn’t remember it.

EDIT: wow that was easy, the mascot girl character’s name is “Ribbon-chan”. Also it turns out the brand was first established in 1909. Wikipedia to the rescue!

1 Like

A mascot? In Japan? How unusual :grin:

I know what you mean about the living and working thing - so many places in the UK I’ve never been to, but once away on hols I do love to to see the sights.

1 Like

I’ve stumbled across several little clusters of manufacturing in unexpected places before - I recall there was one near Tokyo Skytree in Sumida ward. A suburban street, where many of the shopfronts were fully open, and there’d be shelves full of mild steel rods and a lathe at the back, or woodworking material. Just mixed in with normal retail.

My neighborhood is a mix of residential and light industry

1 Like

That machine in the snow reminded me of something I’ve wondered about here in Northern Greater Toronto when I see outdoor pop machines at Walmart, etc. They have a chiller for the summer, but do they have a heater as well? (Otherwise they would be full of ruptured/deformed containers during cold spells, like now.)

But cigarette vending machines out in the open are pretty common.