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Retro Showa Era Vending Machines Given New Life in Kanagawa

Yomiuri Shimbun photos
Many retro vending machines lined up in a row, right, A retro tobacco shop is on display.

I was overwhelmed by the sight of vending machines lined up in two 50-meter-long rows. These vending machines are all from the Showa era (1926-1989) and sell such products as toasted bread and chazuke rice with seasonings and hot water. Young and old alike are drawn here through their sense of curiosity and nostalgia for these rare machines.

Tatsuhiro Saito, 51, the president of Rat Sunrise used tire shop in Sagamihara, saw a hamburger vending machine near his home when he was an elementary school student. The vending machine was etched in his memory because it seemed so strange at the time. As an adult, he encountered an antique vending machine in the city and has been collecting retro vending machines via internet auction sites and other places since then.

Saito installed five retro vending machines at his shop in 2016. Since then, the number of vending machines has increased to 112 and they occupy one-third of the site.

Since most of the vending machines he collected did not work, he repaired them himself. Based on memories of food that he had eaten in childhood, Saito tried to recreate their simple, classic tastes. For example, he asked a food company to recreate the old-fashioned taste of hamburgers and toasted bread. Though the company told him that they would never sell well, he still put them on sale.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The hamburger vending machines featuring a retro box are Saito’s favorites.

In addition to standard products, such as udon and ramen noodles, some vending machines sell shaved ice, omikuji fortune-telling strips and toys. The prices range from ¥300 to ¥400. Many of the machines were made 40 to 50 years ago and were previously found at drive-in facilities and similar places.

Some of the vending machines are incredibly rare and can only be found at the shop, according to Saito. A vending machine made by Kawatetsu Keiryoki, present-day JFE Advantech Co., offers curry poured over rice arranged on a dish inside the machine. I was impressed by the creativity and the spirit of service put into the machine’s design.

The shop is called a retro vending machine sanctuary online and is visited by around 300 people on weekdays and about 1,000 people on weekends.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Many people from Kanagawa Prefecture and other places visit the Rat Sunrise used tire shop to see retro vending machines even on weekdays.

“I hope people enjoy the interesting products and vending machines they’ve never seen before,” Saito said.

I tried some of the food from the vending machines but there are still many interesting items that I didn’t have a chance to try. I want to go there again.

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Rat Sunrise used tire shop in Sagamihara

Address: 2661-1, Shimomizo, Minami Ward, Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture

Access: About 15 minutes by car from the Ken-O Expressway Sagamihara Aikawa Interchange. It takes about 20 to 30 minutes by a bus operated by Kanagawa Chuo Kotsu from JR Yokohama Line’s Sagamihara Station to the Sagamihara Josuijo bus stop, followed by a five-minute walk from the bus stop.

Memo: The vending machines are available around the clock.