Food vending machines in Asia? Yes, they’re everywhere! 

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I remember the first time I saw a food vending machine in Asia. It was in Singapore, and I was amazed by the variety of products it sold. Since then, I’ve seen many more food vending machines in Asia. I’ve even written a guide to the best ones.

So, I’ll share everything I’ve learned about food vending machines in Asia, including why they’re so popular, how they work, and some of the most interesting ones I’ve come across.

Japanese vending machine

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The Evolution of Food Vending Machines in Japan

Believe it or not, the concept of vending machines in Japan dates back to the 1st century AD. Back then, these machines were known as “automatic selling vessels” and were used to dispense holy water at temples. Later, in the 17th century, tea houses used vending machines to serve tea to customers.

The Birth of Modern Vending Machines

The idea of using vending machines to sell food and other products didn’t start until much later. In fact, it wasn’t until the 1950s that the first vending machines designed to sell food were produced in Japan. These early machines were able to dispense single items such as cigarettes and candy.

Discover the Unique Food-Based Japanese Vending Machines

Japan is known for its impressive range of vending machines, and the food-based ones are no exception. While you can find common vending machines selling snacks and drinks all over the world, Japan takes it to a whole new level with their food vending machines. In this section, we will explore the unique food-based Japanese vending machines that offer a variety of dishes and ingredients.

Hot and Fresh Veggies

If you are looking for a healthy snack or side dish, check out the vegetable vending machines in Tokyo’s Shibuya area. These machines serve up fresh and locally grown vegetables that are perfect for people who love to cook. The variety of veggies included in these machines varies by season, so you can always find something new to try.

Egg and Soy Vending Machines

For a quick and convenient breakfast, try the egg and soy vending machines found in numerous locations throughout Japan. These machines offer hard-boiled eggs and soy milk that are fully cooked and ready to eat. The price of these machines varies, but they are generally a great way to save money and time.

Direct from Local Restaurants

If you are looking for a rare and unique dish, check out the vending machines that serve food directly from local restaurants. These machines offer dishes that are not commonly found in other vending machines, and they are a great way to try something new. The price of these machines varies depending on the restaurant and the dish being served.

Cool and Refreshing Drinks

While not technically a food vending machine, the drink vending machines in Japan offer an impressive range of products. From canned coffee to rare sodas, these machines have it all. They also offer a variety of temperatures, so you can get a cool drink on a hot day or a warm one on a cold day.

Why Japan Loves Vending Machines: A Look into the Country’s Vending Culture

Japan is known for its fast-paced lifestyle, and vending machines offer a quick and easy way for people to get what they need without having to spend time in line at a store. With over 5 million vending machines installed across the country, it’s no wonder that Japan has the highest number of vending machines per capita compared to other countries.

The Abundance of Unique Products

Japanese vending machines offer a wide variety of products that cater to the needs of its people. From hot and cold drinks to snacks, rice, and even steel products, you can find just about anything in a vending machine. Some of the more unique items include:

  • Umbrellas
  • Fresh flowers
  • Eggs
  • Ramen noodles
  • Neckties
  • Instant noodles

The Easy Payment Process

Vending machines in Japan offer a variety of payment options, making it easier for customers to buy what they want. Some machines accept cash, while others allow customers to pay with their IC cards or mobile phones. This means that people don’t have to carry a lot of cash around with them, which is especially handy for tourists who may not be familiar with the currency.

The 24-Hour Availability

Vending machines in Japan are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This means that people can get what they need at any time of the day or night, making it a convenient option for those who work long hours or have busy schedules.

The Low Cost

Compared to other countries, vending machines in Japan offer products at a relatively low cost. This is because vending machine companies compensate for the low profit margins by selling a large number of products. This means that customers can find products at a lower price compared to other stores.

The History of Vending Machines in Japan

Vending machines have been a part of Japanese culture since the 1960s. The first vending machines sold cigarettes, and they quickly became popular due to their convenience. Over time, vending machines began to offer a wider variety of products, and today, they are a common sight in cities and towns across the country.

How to Get Your Snacks: Paying for Your Vending Machine Treats

Inserting coins or cash into a vending machine is a classic way to pay for your snack. Most vending machines in Asia accept coins and cash, and some even give change. However, carrying around a lot of coins and cash can be inconvenient, especially if you’re traveling or don’t have exact change.

IC Cards: The Touchless and Convenient Option

IC cards, such as Suica and Pasmo in Japan, are touchless cards that can be used to pay for public transportation and vending machines. These cards can be preloaded with funds and can be easily tapped on the vending machine to dispense your snack. IC cards are a convenient option for those who don’t want to carry around cash or coins.

Mobile Payments: The Future of Vending Machine Payments

Mobile payments are becoming more popular in Asia, and vending machines are starting to accept them. Some vending machines have been retrofitted to accept mobile payments, and others have built-in technology that allows customers to pay with their phone. Mobile payments are a touchless and convenient option for those who don’t want to carry around cash or cards.

Inserting Bills: A Rare Option

While most vending machines in Asia accept coins and IC cards, some also accept bills. However, this option is rare and may not be available in all vending machines. If you do come across a vending machine that accepts bills, make sure to have the exact amount as they may not give change.

China’s Food Vending Machines: A Culinary Adventure

China’s food vending machines are not your typical snack dispensers. They offer a wide range of food options that cater to different tastes and preferences. Here are some of the most popular types of food vending machines in China:

  • Dumpling Vending Machines: These machines offer a variety of dumplings, including pork, beef, and vegetable options. The dumplings are freshly made and steamed on the spot, ensuring that you get a piping hot snack every time.
  • Rice Vending Machines: These machines offer a variety of rice dishes, including fried rice, rice with vegetables, and rice with meat. The rice is cooked on the spot and served in a convenient takeout container.
  • Noodle Vending Machines: These machines offer a variety of noodle dishes, including spicy Sichuan noodles, beef noodles, and vegetable noodles. The noodles are freshly made and cooked on the spot, ensuring that you get a delicious meal every time.

Food Vending Machines in Thailand: A New Way to Satisfy Your Cravings

Thailand’s food vending machines offer a large variety of products that cater to the customers’ taste buds. These machines are equipped with a curated selection of unique flavors that are sure to appeal to anyone looking for something new and different. From healthy snacks to RTE (ready-to-eat) meals, these machines have got you covered.

Cashless Payment and Convenience

The vending machine company in Thailand has launched these machines amid the pandemic, and they are sure to supply the needs of customers who want to buy food without having to interact with vendors. These machines are equipped with cashless payment options, making it easy and safe for customers to purchase their favorite snacks and meals. The convenience of these machines is unmatched, as they are available 24/7 and can be found in various locations throughout the city.

Good for Business and Customers

Not only are these vending machines good for customers, but they are also good for business. The vending machine distributors in Thailand have created a great way to create funds for their company while also providing a service to the community. These machines offer a unique way to supply food to customers who are always on the go, and they are sure to increase the views of the company’s products.

Ensuring Safety and Healthy Choices

The vending machine company in Thailand ensures the safety of their customers by providing healthy choices in their selection of products. They offer a large variety of healthy snacks and meals that are sure to satisfy your cravings without compromising your health. These machines are equipped with the latest technology to ensure that the food is fresh and safe to consume.

In conclusion, food vending machines in Thailand offer a new and convenient way to satisfy your cravings. They are equipped with a curated selection of unique flavors, cashless payment options, and healthy choices. These machines are good for business and customers alike, ensuring safety and convenience for all.


So, that’s how food vending machines work in Asia. They’re a great way to get food quickly without having to wait in line at a restaurant, and they’re perfect for people on the go. Plus, they’re a great way to try new foods. So, the next time you’re looking for a snack, check out a vending machine!

Check out our new cookbook

Bitemybun's family recipes with complete meal planner and recipe guide.

Try it out for free with Kindle Unlimited:

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Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.