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Japanese Vending Machines for Beginners

Japan is the vending machine capital of the world. These neon-lighted and colorful rectangular machines occupy most street corners, outside office and commercial blocks, lined up at bus stops, and even on trekking sites like the top of Mount Fuji.Many of these dispensers are a common sight nationwide. In fact, Japan has the highest vending machine per capita rate at an estimated ratio of one machine per 23 people.

Prices vary, but the lowest you will usually find are one-coin machines where everything costs about 100 JPY (0.92 USD). Consider it as a great bargain!

How the Latest Vending Machines are Indispensable for your Life in Japan

Commonly referred to as “jidouhanbaiki” or “jihanki” in the Japanese language, these vending machines are a long-established essential because of its convenience and practicality. The convenience of these dispensers makes it ideal to put them in hotels, guesthouses, and other public places. In crowded cities such as Tokyo, you can spot a vending machine at almost every street corner and block.

Offering a great selection of items to choose from is one way for Japan to offer excellent service to everyone, and vending machines are no exception. You can find a vending machine for almost anything, including non-perishable and perishable goods.

Humble Beginnings

Vending machines originated in Britain during the late 1880s, when a small, cabinet-like equipment automatically dispensed cigarettes without any human intervention. Cigarette machines were among the first kinds of vending equipment available in Japan. The idea of putting a coin into a machine to dispense a certain amount of tobacco is widely believed to be the beginning of its nationwide popularity.

Since then, hundreds of jihanki have been manufactured and distributed all over the country. There are about 5.5 million vending machines nationwide, with some distributed near crowded areas, train stations, and convenience stores.From its humble beginnings of a machine that automatically dispenses a cigarette, Japan boasts the largest collection of vending machines today.

The Importance of Convenience

Japanese people put great importance on convenience. Busy cities like Tokyo are filled with people who are always on the go. Most 9-5 workers are observed to have strong work ethic and do not wish to waste precious time lining up for goods. The fast transaction in a jihanki is one of the reasons why many locals adore vending machines. The faster they can get their items, the better. Besides, what’s more convenient than grabbing a quick drink on the way?

Vending machines occupy much smaller spaces compared to actual stores, thus Japan’s sky-high real estate value would be maximized. The all-around presence of jihanki is also an indication that crime rates in the country are remarkably low. Individuals can freely walk around the neighborhood to look for items on vending machines without fear — that in itself is already a remarkable feat.

Vandalism cases are also rare in the country. Even if a vending machine is installed in a public space, it rarely gets broken.

New Innovation Vending Machines (Every pass x Acupass)

Image Source: Acure

Japan continuously develops cutting-edge technology as observed in innovative vending machines. In particular, the latest vending machine subscription service “Every Pass” is the first in the country. It allows users to receive one drink per day as long as they use the new innovation vending machines.

About 400 innovation jihanki were installed at JR East Stations (Metropolitan area and Tohoku Shinetsu area). The company distributes specific QR codes to users daily. It can be used to buy items by hovering the code over the innovation vending machines. Take note that the QR code is only valid for the day and is intransferable.

Good Value for the Yen!

Image Source: Acure

There are two pricing plans to avail of this service.

  • Accur Maid Plan (980 JPY per month)

    – Allows you to only select the company’s brand Accur Maid

  • Premium Plan (2480 JPY per month)

    – Allows you to select all products

The Accu-Maid plan is only available for a month, and after which it automatically switches to the premium plan. The payment method is only done through credit card.

With Innovation Vending Machines, Shorten your Jihanki Transaction Time to 2-3 Seconds!

Image Source: Acure

A first in Japan, the innovation vending machine located in JR East’s Echinaka is a revolutionary jihanki linked to a smartphone app “Acure Pass”. Customers can now shorten the amount of time they spend when buying items from the vending machine up to 2 seconds until the receipt is printed out. Usually, this process takes about 5 seconds.

The developers behind the machine managed to properly link information in real-time. So the moment you receive the product, you will be notified that the purchases product has been received by the AccuPass. The QR code is also usually displayed on the start up screen of the AccuPass app, hence you can receive goods immediately after taking out your smartphone.

Visually Pleasing, with a Rounded and Unique Shape!

Image Source: Acure

The design for this innovative and modern vending machine is also eye-catching. The black color of the casing makes the machine stand out from the typical. Since black vending machines are almost rarely seen in Japan, this revolutionary new line-up rather catches your eye at one glance. The matte color was also chosen to make stains like fingerprints less noticeable.

The jihanki’s rather unique shape with rounded corners is also something to marvel at. It’s set to be in that shape for customers to recognize the new vending machine even from a distance of 10 meters. The craftsmanship that has been poured into this cutting-edge vending machine is surprising, allowing both visitors and locals to have a glimpse of the future of vending machines in the country.

The Future of Innovation Vending Machines

Image Source: Acure

There is a desire to spread the new purchasing system using QR codes across Japan. In particular, it is planned to develop mass-produced jihanki in the Tohoku area and Shin-Etsu area. The technology behind the innovation vending machine and the Accupass app is packed with the involved companies’ commitment and perseverance.


Japan continues to develop cutting-edge technology as observed in innovative vending machines. Considering how the Japanese people value convenience and practicality in their everyday lives, these dispensers are found at almost every street corner and block. The new purchasing system using QR codes and the latest vending machine subscription service are only among the first developments. There might be a dozen of other development updates in many jihanki in the future.

With over 5.5 million vending machines nationwide, this one of a kind jihanki experience will surely make your stay in Japan rather unique and unforgettable!

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