Japan is obsessed with vending machines, and they sell everything in them. Want a new iPhone? Vending machine. Want sake? Vending machine. Want batteries? Vending machine. You get the gist… But what if you want to explore entomophagy? Luckily, Japan has a handful of edible insect vending machines as well!
Vending Machine Culture
“There are just under 5 million vending machines in Japan, according to the Japan Times, a little more than the 4.6 million estimated in the United States by Vending Marketwatch. However, since the U.S. is so spread out – nearly 4 million miles to 145,000 miles of Japan, the machines seem more widespread here.”USA Today
According to Japan Today: “The national average sales for a vending machine is almost 40,000 yen per month. If it’s in a particularly good place where you can expect a consistent flow of people, such as near a station on a commuting route or by a park, then it can be as much as 500,000 yen.”
Edible Insect Vending Machines
Although edible insects were popular in Japan back in the day, the modern Japanese person is not regularly snacking on bugs. I did not get an opportunity to try any bugs in Japan, but if I go back, I’ll make sure to hunt down one of these edible insect vending machines! While there aren’t many, the ones that exist have been shockingly popular!
An edible insect vending machine in Kumamoto, for example, generates about $4,600 a month! However, keep in mind that cultivating insects for human consumption can be pricey as it isn’t a mainstream process. That is the biggest struggle for edible insect companies – producing edible insects at a price that consumers are willing to pay.
Here is what these edible insect vending machines look like:
How do they taste?
There are so many ways to taste bugs and they all taste different. Angelina Jolie is big on bugs as well as some other celebs. Here is a video in Japanese of someone tasting a vending machine insect.
Summary: Edible Insect Vending Machines
Eating insects seems gross because we’ve been taught not to put that gross bug in our mouths from a young age. However, they are a great and healthy protein source, and you should give them a try. But do keep in mind that if you have a shellfish allergy, you could have a reaction to insects! Read more about edible insects on The Travel Bug Bite! You can read more about the buggylicious vending machines in Japan here (in Japanese) and here (in English.)