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The 13 Weirdest Items In Tokyo Vending Machines Ranked From Worst To Best

We made it our singular mission in Tokyo to sample and rank every strange thing we came across in a vending machine. It was a lot of things!

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Tokyo is a land of strange and magical vending machines.

According to Japan's National Tourism Organization there are 5.52 million vending machines in the country, totaling 6.95 trillion Yen (62 billion dollars) in sales.
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According to Japan's National Tourism Organization there are 5.52 million vending machines in the country, totaling 6.95 trillion Yen (62 billion dollars) in sales.

You can get find a really nice range of stuff in Tokyo's vending machines, whether you are in the mood for canned carrots in sauce...

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... or something more daring and exciting like, say, battleships and lobotomy-head people.

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We spent two weeks in Tokyo, following every lead we could find to sample the finest, most interesting vending machines in the city. Here is what we discovered, ranked from most unpleasant to most awesome.

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13. Sweet Black Bean Sludge

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This was awful!

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It was just really unpleasant to taste and eat! If you want to get a sense of what this tastes like, make yourself a basic black bean soup, add about two pounds of sugar, heat it up (yes, this came out of the machine hot!) and then pour it into a soda can.

12. Used Ladies' Underpants

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These were bad as well.

Also, they are not fun to buy. It's awkward to purchase them in front of other human people, and they're 1,000 yen (8 dollars) each, which would be a steal for a new pair of ladies' underpants, but is just too high of a price to pay for used ladies' underpants.
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Also, they are not fun to buy. It's awkward to purchase them in front of other human people, and they're 1,000 yen (8 dollars) each, which would be a steal for a new pair of ladies' underpants, but is just too high of a price to pay for used ladies' underpants.

Although they do come conveniently packaged, they are someone else's used underpants, which isn't a very nice thing to hold or touch.

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11. Tomato Slurry for Pasta

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Somehow we got the impression from the label that this was going to be a delicious spaghetti ...

We were far too excited about this!
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We were far too excited about this!

... but there was no spaghetti in the can, just tomato slurry. It was not very nice.

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10. Some Nondescript Noodle Soup Called Oden

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After our spaghetti disappointment, this soup delivered on the noodles.

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Unfortunately, it was not very nice.

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We couldn't read the ingredients but both of us are vegetarians and one of us is very, very allergic to fish, so we didn't do a huge amount of tasting of this product after our initial survey.

9. A RAD CAMOUFLAGE WATCH!

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Without question, the coolest and most stylish camouflage watch either of us have ever gotten out of a vending machine.

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Some of the vending machines we found were deliberately mysterious. You just had to trust them and give them money and they would give you some kind of treat like an analog watch that would be invisible in a jungle.

8. Natto

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Natto is a product that is made by fermenting soybeans with something called Bacillus subtilis.

This makes it real stringy and gloopy and intense to smell! All of our Japanese colleagues described it as an "acquired taste."
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This makes it real stringy and gloopy and intense to smell! All of our Japanese colleagues described it as an "acquired taste."

We also got Natto donuts from the same machine. They tasted a lot like regular donuts.

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7. Cool ear buds!

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One of the mystery machines gave us these VERY cool and trendy green earbuds!

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It was a nice mystery surprise and felt like a very generous thing for a machine to give us.

But then this Japanese YouTube star (?) approached us and said it was his birthday and he was trying to trade up to eventually get a Lamborghini, so we (reluctantly) traded the ear buds for this white chocolate.

We figured this was in the service of the greater good of advancing international diplomacy and also helping fellow ~content creators~ who were just trying to make some killer content.
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We figured this was in the service of the greater good of advancing international diplomacy and also helping fellow ~content creators~ who were just trying to make some killer content.

6. A box of miniaturized food toys and some maraschino cherries.

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One of the vending machines sold us this neatly packed box of miniature toys shaped like food and utensils.

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The box of delights also incongruously had some maraschino cherries!

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They weren't very nice, but it's very much the thought that counts with this sort of thing.

5. Popcorn!

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This vending machine had a little robot who lived inside it and lovingly made us popcorn.

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It felt great to support the helpful popcorn robot and also the popcorn was tasty and good!

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4. Corn Chowder!

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We just weren't expecting this to be warm. It's so, so surprising when you get what you think is going to be a soda from a vending machine and instead it is warm corn chowder.

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Also, we weren't expecting the corn chunks.

But once we got past that, it was good and hearty!
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But once we got past that, it was good and hearty!

3. Tomoyo Daidouji From Cardcaptor Sakura

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This was the final thing we got from the "mystery" vending machine and it was also the best.

She is from a popular manga series called Cardcaptor Sakura, which is about some tweens who accidentally release magical cards created by a sorcerer and have to try and get them back. This is Tomoyo Daidouji, who is the wealthy best friend of the main character.
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She is from a popular manga series called Cardcaptor Sakura, which is about some tweens who accidentally release magical cards created by a sorcerer and have to try and get them back. This is Tomoyo Daidouji, who is the wealthy best friend of the main character.

She looks really great when you dress her up with cool miniature food accessories from a different vending machine.

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2. Beard Papa's Natural Cream Puff-Flavored Soda?!

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Who is Beard Papa and why does his cream-puff-flavored soda taste so damn good?!

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The world may never find out. But Beard Papa knows exactly what he's doing.

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1. DELICIOUS BEER!

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It's just unbelievably refreshing after a hard day of looking for weird things in vending machines, and it makes everything better.

It's frankly embarrassing that we don't sell delicious beer in vending machines here in the U.S. You would think that our Founding Fathers would have figured that one out if they were as smart as everyone says they were.
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It's frankly embarrassing that we don't sell delicious beer in vending machines here in the U.S. You would think that our Founding Fathers would have figured that one out if they were as smart as everyone says they were.

Anyway, those are all the cool things we found in Tokyo's amazing vending machines. Thanks, Tokyo!

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