In Japan, 10 yen vending machines serve up fun and mystery

Japan’s vending machines have been fascinating to say the least, from selling the usual canned drinks to cooked food to even clothes and sometimes worn female underwear. The price range of most items tends to be about 120 yen (about S$1.40) and above. But just when you thought this was reasonable enough, there is actually a rare breed of vending machines churning out items for as low as 10 yen (about S$0.10) apiece!

These vending machines exist in Osaka city, Fukushima ward, near the Osaka Municipal Central Wholesale Markets. Finding them should not be difficult as you can key “10円自販機” (meaning 10 yen vending machine) into Google Maps, which will lead you to this:

A pin-point location that is an 8-minute walk from Noda Station and Tamagawa Station. Screenshot: Google Maps
A pin-point location that is an 8-minute walk from Noda Station and Tamagawa Station. Screenshot: Google Maps

Not sure what to look out for? Find these brightly-coloured vending machines adorned with cartoon cats.

Unlike the usual vending machines, these do not give you the luxury to choose the item you want. You just have to take a leap of faith and hope you don’t get something weird. Because of their mysterious nature, people tend to try multiple slots, like this guy:

But regardless of what he pressed, the button for a can or a bottle, it seems all the drinks he got are the same – in this case, a can of tea! As it turned out, the reason these drinks are priced so low is because this is a “clearance sale”. The items usually are nearing their expiry date, or their peak demand season is over.

Other than these 10 yen drinks, the other vending machines offer random non-drink items for a slightly higher price of 50 yen, such as Pocky snacks without packaging.

You might get chewing gum for 100 yen as well, and some miscellaneous sweets or jelly for 50 yen.

However, many have encountered machines that are completely sold out, and it might even take a few days for the vending machine to be restocked. In that case, so as not to waste your trip there, you can try the “Oideya Shrine” vending machine. Some buttons even claim to grant wishes related to health, wealth and relationship. The drinks are relatively more expensive, but at least you know what you are getting, like 30 yen for a Calpis Soda.

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