VIDEO: Vintage Japanese vending machines by Zama take you back in time

VIDEO: Vintage Japanese vending machines by Zama take you back in time

by Takahiro Takiguchi
Stripes Japan

Japan is known as the land of the vending machines. Traveling around you’ll find that many offer hot and cold drinks and some even serve as wifi spots during times of emergency.

If you’re a fan of vending machines and love retro stuff, there is a cool spot to check out near Camp Zama with over 100 working vintage machines. Sharing grounds with Rat Sunrise, a secondhand tire shop, the collection of retro vendos is about a 15-minute drive from Zama.

To my surprise, all the 50- to 60-year-old vending machines are still fully functional and ready to dispense snacks and even hot meals for visitors. Most of items start from 100 yen to 600 yen ($0.70 - $4.50) and the machines were definitely a trip back to my childhood in the 1960s and 70s.

This interesting collection was started back in 2016 by the owner of the Rat Sunrise, according to the Tokyo Shimbun. The machines were stocked and set up so Rat Sunrise customers could have a light meal or have a refreshment while they waited for their cars to be ready. Soon, the collection grew to about 100 machines, and now it is a popular spot even for visitors not having their car tires changed.

The machines serve up many delicious items, including snacks, sweets, ice cream, shaved ice, popcorn, sandwiches, curry rice, udon and more. When we inserted 350 yen into the tempura bowl machine, the time indicator started counting down with sounds of heating up the food. After 120 seconds, I had a hot bowl with tasty rice and fried tempura of shrimp, squid and vegetables.

The hot tempura bowl was delicious, and featured a pleasant aroma and crispy texture of tempura, fluffy rice sprinkled with full-bodied savory soy-sauce based broth. I just can’t believe it was an instant food cooked in such an old-fashioned vending machine, and it’s very cheap! If come to this place hungry, you can build a great lunch from what’s in these vendos.

The beverage machines offer hot and cold coffee, tea and cold sodas. I also found a machine selling Coca-Colas in the classic glass bottle for 100 yen. I saw some machines that seemed to be selling adult beverages, but upon closer inspection realized they were dispensing non-alcoholic beverages since many of the customers drive to this location.

In this vending machine wonderland, there are also arcade games, an old jukebox, retro toy machines and others selling Kodak camera film and AA batteries. We made sure to drop a few coins in the old jukebox to listen to some fun Japanese oldies.

One section of the vending machine walkway had countless omikuji fortune slips tied to the ceiling. Here a machine dispensed omikuji fortunes for 100 yen. I deposited my coin and grabbed my slip. After reading my fortune, I tied it to the ceiling just like others before me. In Japan, the tradition is to tie fortune slip that is not good on a branch or wired fence to leave the bad luck behind.

Drop by and check out the vintage vending machines near Camp Zama for yourself!

Rat Sunrise (Chuko taiya ichiba Sagamihara-ten)

Hours: 10:30 a.m. – 7 p.m.

Location:2661-1 Shimomizo, Minami-ku, Sagamihara City, Kanagawa Prefecture


Tel: 042-714-5333

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