A vending machine is the one thing that is easily available everywhere in Japan. You will find it on sidewalks, besides famous buildings or touristy areas, in subway tracks and in general all train tracks, in front of bus stations, parks, etc. Any area you go to you can expect to find at least one vending machine even if it's a mountain road in the middle of nowhere. This is probably why people who come to visit Japan are fascinated by the Japanese vending machines. And I was too when I first came here. The vending machines in Japan offer a diverse selection of drinks to quench your thirst and all of them come at the price of only a dollar or two at max. What I am about to advise in this blog is well known by those who have stayed in Japan for some time, but it should be quite helpful for first-time visitors who cannot read or understand Japanese. Obviously, there are more drinks than one can count but I have made a list of my 10 go-to vending machine drinks currently in the market
1.Ice Cafe Au Lait- Georgia is one of the most popular brands of canned coffee you will find in Japan, and for good reason too. It is loved by every coffee addict although each of them has a varied taste. Whether you are a black coffee fan or want a low sugar coffee or a rich blend, Georgia is the go-to brand. My recent favorite is the ICE cafe Au lait. I love the rich taste of milk and the after taste of coffee in this one. You should definitely give it a go if you are a coffee fan.
2.Georgia Latte Nista- This drink came out in 2020 and became popular very quickly. If you are a coffee latte fan then you should definitely try this one. It has a hint of butter in it too to make it richer. However it's not your typical bullet coffee since it does have sugar mixed in, so it's not ideal if you're on a keto diet. But for those who like a creamier coffee, the Georgia Latte Nista hits the spot.
3.Oi Ocha- Now we all know that Japan is famous for its matcha tea/ Green tea. And it comes in many variations but one that you will find almost everywhere is the Oi Ocha. Oi Ocha is the best selling brand for bottled Japanese tea and pays great attention to aroma and taste. The word Oi Ocha literally means tea, please!. And this one does not even have any strong green tea smell and can be enjoyed on the go by anyone.
4.Asahi Royal Milk Tea- Being a brown person you can't help liking the Japanese royal milk tea. The royal milk tea is kind of a Japanese-English word and exists only in Japan. Compared to the usual milk tea the taste is very different as the taste is a bit more aromatic than the Chai back home. If milk tea is your thing you can also try Kirin's milk tea as well.
5.Aquarius/Pocari- There are many sports drinks to choose from in Japan but these are very popular in Japan. If you feel sick or out of energy, or had a rough night out, these two are a quick relief. These amino acid drinks are very effective in getting over fatigue. The Aquarius has a sweet after taste whereas the Pocari Sweat has a salty aftertaste. Hence the name.
6.CocaCola- No list can ever go complete without Cocacola. Coca Cola variants are also available in all the Japanese vending machines and come in an array of sizes and themes.
7.Ilohas- Ilohas is one of my favorite vending machine/ train station drinks every time I want to stay hydrated but also feel like having something flavorful. It is a natural mineral bottled water from coca-cola and is also eco-friendly as the bottles can be crushed very easily into tiny sizes once you are done with them in order to reduce their carbon footprint. ILohas comes in various flavors like orange, peach, lemon, etc. Plus the flavored options have very few calories as well.
8.Sokenbicha- Sokenbicha or known as Mugi cha in Japan is a great alternative of Ocha or green tea and has a healthy blend of 12 different natural ingredients.
9.Amino Supli- Nowadays products containing amino acids have become very popular in Japan. They are now widely available in the forms of drinks, jellies, and powders. One another popular amino drink is the Amino Supli now available in vending machines as well.
10.BOSS Coffee- Last but not least is BOSS coffee, available in a wide range of varieties. There is a boss coffee variation for every coffee drinker, ranging from black to unsweetened to sweetened and creamy.
A few helpful reminders of non-Japanese speakers:
The Japanese characters in blue “つめたい or tsumetai” written under each drink means they are cold beverage.
And the ones with red labels “あったかい or atatakai” means that they are "hot beverages”.
There is actually a whole lot more to the variety of vending machine drinks that you can try when you are in Japan. So make sure to try one of these drinks from the colorful vending machines of Japan, trust me you will encounter them more than you think. Drop your coins and take your pick to enjoy refreshing drinks anytime, anywhere and you'll have run out of your travel budget in no time!