Vending Machines in Japan


Japan is crazy about vending machines.

Many models are shown below.

These contain mostly drinks, but in some areas hot + cold meals, and even T-shirts or electronics.

Drinks range from 100¥ – 200¥ and many of them are quite good, such as BOSS Coffee, shown below, CC Lemon, and lots of teas. Some also feature the usual western soft drinks – although most western soft drinks are not as popular in Japan as they are in the west.

You will find these machines on virtually every corner or shopping complex. Some take only coins, some take bills also, and newer ones also aceept the Japaneese train system’s IC card – Suica. The light green machine in the photo in the lower right corner below is one such Suica machine at a train station. To pay for a drink using Suica, just slap your Suica card on the IC card reader and you’re good to go.

If you have an NFC-F enabled smart phone, and have loaded a Suica app onto it, you can also trigger the machine’s Suica reader simply by holding your phone up to it. Note that some western phones won’t work with Suica readers since they use NFC and not the Japanese-specific NFC-J standard. If you use an iPhone you’ll need an iPhone 8 or later and the Suica app to use Suica on the readers. You can also use an Apple Watch Series 3 or later on the readers if your phone has Suica added to Apple Wallet, and Bluetooth is enabled on your Apple Watch.

In some stations there are new electronic models which don’t show the bottles themselves, but only an LCD image of them.

To use them, put your money in the top, select the small black button under the drink you want, and the drink will come out the slot at the bottom.

On a hot summer day, these are life-savers: if you’re walking a lot, you’ll also be sweating profusely and will dehydrate very quickly.

Sometimes you’ll find mega-banks of them in a row – 4-10 machines all lined up.


Suntory BOSS coffee machine in Itabashi.

Suica-enabled vending machine in green, lower right. The IC card reader is the small oval in the center.


Suica-enabled vending machine at the Narita International Aiport waiting lobby.


A Good Vending/Happy Price machine, also in Itabashi. Note all drinks are 100¥ (approx. $1 USD).


Vending machine bank on a corner in Toranomon.


Modern all-electronic “acure” model at Ueno Station. Also note the small recycling slots on the right.

As an odd footnote Tommy Lee Jones is the official spokeman for BOSS coffee, and is featured in many Suntory BOSS TV ads in Japan.



Japan’s Coffee Culture

The Japanese love coffee and cafés at least as much – if not more – than other countries.

Japan is a coffee culture. Cafés are everywhere and coffee vending machines are everywhere.

A few photos of “cohee” culture in Japan:

Junk Cafe Tokyo in Shibuya.

Cafe Legato – also in Shibuya has excellent views of the city.

Sunday Coffee – another staple in Shibuya. To the left is the Jaguar Hair Saloon. Not salon – saloon.

If you go south on Meiji-Dori Ave south of Ikebukero, you will happen upon this non-descript bldg. with the hidden and excellent Rocket Café on the 2nd floor. Well worth a visit.

Komeda’s Coffee east of Ikebukero Station.

A phone map showing both Komeda’ Coffee and Coffee Valley east of Ikebukero Station in west Tokyo.

The Roasted Coffee Laboratory has several locations in Tokyo.

Stockholm Roast in Omotesando. Seating is on the roof.

There are several Mr. Donuts in Ikebukero. This newer one is southwest of JR Ikebukero Station. There is a similar one just a few blocks to the north on the northwest side of the station.

There is also a much older Mr. Donut on a backstreet in Ikebukero to the east of the JR station.

Another typical Japanese cafe.

Another must-see café in Ikebukuro is Coffee Valley east of JR Ikebukero Station and only an 8 min walk southwest from Maruonuchi

A typical Starbucks in Ikebukero. There are half a dozen of them spread out all over the area.

Vending Machine Cohee in Japan

The other side of coffee in Japan are the micro-sized vending machine canned coffees. Brands such as Boss and Wonda (part of Asahi) are very popular. But by western standards, the cans are miniscule. There are some larger canned coffees in conbini stores – including Boss and others, which are a bit more. Some conbinis also sell heated coffee in aluminum cans for around ¥100. Just walk in + buy one – they are heated on the shelves where they sit.

Wonda canned coffee from a vending machine. There are seemingly endless brands + varieties in vending machines in Japan.

BOSS canned vending machine coffee.

Suntory BOSS vending machine in Japan. Coins in, coffee out.

Heated BOSS canned coffee on a conbini store shelf.

Larger Fire brand canned coffee from a vending machine.

McDonald’s (‘MacuDo’s) coffee served in a tiny paper cup in Japan.

There are also machines that serve hot coffee in a paper cup.

If you like milk in your coffee, Meiji brand is quite good from a conbini for around ¥100.

Conbini also sell various brands of slightly larger coffees such as lattes in sealed paper cups with plastic lids + a straw for around ¥100. There are various brands – even Starbucks. There are even matcha-lattes – green tea lattes, which are actually very good.

How to do coffee cheap in Japan

If you’re looking to save $ in Japan, there are ways to get your coffee + save $.

One way is to buy a bag of pre-made coffee in discount or drug stores. Drip-On by Key Coffee is one such brand. The bags are sort of like tea bags in the west – you open a plastic packet, remove the bag, unfold it, place it on a cup, then pour in hot water. A pack of 10-15 of these bags can be bought for around $5 – or about $.50 per cup. While not quite as good as fresh coffee or vending coffee, they are still good, and can save lot of ¥.

You can find little electric boiler pots at discount stores such as Don Quijote for as low as $20. These pots are amazing + can boil an entire pot of water in under 60 seconds. Many hotels have them. The little power button on the handle snaps off as soon as the water boils.

But so far the ultimate cheap way to do coffee in Japan we’ve found is to buy a large paper carton of coffee at one of the discount stores such as Don Quijote for around ¥100 or less. You can add milk, or drink it black. One small carton yields about 2-3 full cups. If you want to be ultra-cheap you can add 1/2 cup of water, then microwave it – and get about 3 cups out of a carton – around $.30/cup. Some vending machines also have 2X-sized plastic bottles of black coffee for around $1.30.

Also see our main post about going to Japan for more food/coffee tips.