A taste of Japan

Vending Machine at Japan House London

This summer, Japan House in London has been offering visitors a Japanese rail-themed retail experience, complete with a high-tech vending machine dispensing rarely-seen railway goods and confectionery from Japan’s largest passenger rail operator JR-East.

Stepping inside a dedicated rail-themed booth complete with model shinkansen (bullet trains), visitors encountered a digital vending machine dispensing confectionery typically exclusive to regional stations served by the East Japan Railway Company (JR-East) network, as well as a wide selection of luxury, train-themed lifestyle goods.

The digital vending machine, displaying not only the products within but also video footage and information, offered visitors the chance to take a culinary journey through Japan. Within the selection visitors were able to try a variety of apple snacks and drinks from the celebrated apple-growing prefecture of Aomori, sweet potato chips from Ibaraki and mandarin mochi from Nagano. Each drink and snack celebrates the unique flavours of Japan’s diverse regions, made reachable by JR-East’s vast network of high speed, local and luxury sightseeing trains.

The Japanese culture of jidōhanbaiki (vending machines) is well-known for both its high per person density – with one machine per 30 people – as well as the variety of goods served behind the brightly-lit façades. Just as much a mainstay of Japan’s city scenes as on its rural country roads, the machines serve not only to satisfy the hunger and thirst of its population but also offer such conveniences as white shirts for office workers, freshly cooked pizza, flowers and umbrellas. The digital machine at Japan House dispenses ochoko (sake cups) in porcelain, copper and stainless steel, each intricately embellished with bullet train designs.

The rail booth, which centres on the theme of connecting Japan through railway technology and you can still catch it if you’re quick as its available until 14 September 2023 in the Shop on the ground floor of Japan House, Kensington High Street.