Food Friday: Vending Machines (with Beer)

It’s no secret that I love Japanese vending machines–or that they stock an unusually wide variety of foods, beverages, and other items.

During my recent visit to Kyoto, I spotted this vending machine in the hall at the Kyoto Tower hotel. The top two rows look fairly standard: water (still and sparkling), coffee, and juice. That bottom row, however, puts a new spin on things (for most people from the United States, anyway): Asahi beer and highballs in a can.

The drinking age in Japan is 20, but there’s no one here to check I.D., or even supervise who’s buying. The vending machines operate on the honor system–and although you do need a room key to access this part of the hotel, anyone can buy drinks from the machine.

Beer and other alcoholic beverages aren’t found only in hotel vending machines either. I’ve seen them on the street, and even in some train stations: another interesting aspect of life here in Japan.