A. VM = vending machine in below.
There are 2.4M VM for beverage alone, 4.2M including others.
In this post, let me write about beverage VM and in next post about non-beverage VM !
Variations of drink you can get from VM is endless. There is literally nothing you can’t get from VM. Soft water bottled in Japan, hard water like Evian, fizzy water, flavored water like “lemon water” or “apple water”, all different types of tea such as green (sometimes 2~3 different types of green tea in one machine, welcome to Japan !), jasmine, black, pu-erh, oolong and such, coffee with/without sugar, with/without milk, soda, fruit juice, onion soup, corn soup, Oshiruko - Japanese red bean soup and even Dashi Japanse soup stock. You’ll see more chilled drinks in summer, more heated ones in winter. Red price tag means hot and blue means cold. Also room temperature water is available for people who don’t want to take pills with chilled water. (I heard VM you can change the temperature depending on seasons is available only in Japan, is it true ??) Not available on streets but if you stay at hotel or Ryokan, sometimes you can find alcohol VM for beer and cocktail. When I was little, alcohol VM were still available on streets and I remember getting a can of beer for my dad but after minors buying and drinking alcohol from VM became an issue, these were banned from street. VM here in Japan is not just a machine you get drink from. It’s also our lifeline. When you make emergency phone call to police from public pay phone, they can trace your call and allocate where you are but pay phone disappeared from streets with the popularization of smart phones and people can’t always tell where they are making emergency call from. So a lot of VM have address sticker attached so that people can find the closest VM and tell exact address to police. Some VM also work as free wifi spot, news source using the electric bulletin board attached to it and free drink supplier in case of natural disaster. In 2011 when we had the big earthquake, these VM were great help. Next post will be about non-beverage VM !