Just look at this banana vending machine in Shibuya, Tokyo.

Just look at it.

Shibuya Banana Vending Machine (Thanks, Brent!)



    1. Is that Trader Joes in Japan? If not, then the price difference is meaningless. I’d like to know what the regular price of a banana is in Japan.

      1. Very roughly twice as expensive. { Fruit is expensive } x { exchange rate to US$ sucks }.

        Yes, individual servings of fresh fruit in a vending machine are crazy expensive, fancy that.

          1. According to this page on the Dole website: http://dole.co.jp/products/fruits/banana01.html (just look at it), they mostly come from the Philippines. I assume they go to Japan directly cause bananas are pretty common in the supermarkets.

    2. Well it depends on location.  Yes, you can spend some ungodly sum for a watermelon (like $100) if you want to buy one on the mezzanine of the Tokyo subway station.

      1. Or at a local supermarket hundreds of km from Tokyo. Fruit are given as gifts in Japan and the very best, most attractive ones attract a huge premium. Fruit is expensive anyway because farm land is at a premium and the farmers in Japan have huge political clout so imports are expensive.

        Also: I bet you can find a watermelon for more like $500 in one of the upmarket shopping areas in Tokyo.

        Edit to add: here is a $4000 watermelon: http://newsfeed.time.com/2011/06/22/japanese-watermelon-auctions-for-4000-consider-that-a-bargain/

    3. Single banana from Japanese vending machine: ¥130 ($1.47 in US Dollars)
      Single banana in Costa Rica: 0$ (US in US Dollars)

    1. Well there has to be a package so they can print the word “Banana” on it so consumers can be confident that this is a banana and not some strange novelty product, and then there is also a tiny picture of a banana, presumably for people who can’t read the label or see the banana through the bag.

  1. It’s really the plastic wrap that sells it – the edible part of the banana being after all already encased in a durable skin. Are they going to branch out and add individually plastic-wrapped oranges, too?

    1. As I understand it, the Japanese are really into packaging. A combination of concerns about hygiene and traditional presentation culture.

      I recall reading that simple, convenience-store purchases were often carefully wrapped and bagged in front of the customer, even if the item was due for immediate consumption.

      1. Maybe a slight exaggeration, but not by much. Certainly the packaging culture is so ingrained that even when you ask for the item without a bag, they will stick a small sticker on the item to indicate that it has been purchased.

        And everything is packaged in individual servings–no giant bags of snacks. The first time I saw a box of 12 individually-wrapped McVities Digestive Biscuits at the supermarket, it blew my mind.

        1. A bag of individually wrapped cashew nuts.  Just picture it.  I had a photo at home, not sure if it’s still there.

          Some places are trying to get out of the packaging obsession.  Lots of people have eco-bags (bring-your-own canvas/nylon bags), and you can get a small ( 2yen) discount if you don’t use any bags.  But if you go to a fast-food restaurant and order a value meal, you’re going to get the hamburger in a paper bag, the fries in another paper bag, your drink in a paper bag with a cardboard insert to prevent it from tipping over, and then each of those bags placed in a large plastic bag.  It’s ridiculous.

  2. Kind of odd to have a single-product machine.

    Although, come to think of it, there was an apple vending machine in my high school. I think they were pretty common at one time.

    1.  At one of the highschools i visited there was a candy apple machine that ‘made’ them (punches stick in apple, applies sheet of ‘caramel’ to apple, heats it to melt it). It was broken when I saw it but someone explained it to me and I wondered if some dude comes by regularly to replace the apples and why wasn’t there an option just to sell the apples by themselves. I could of used them in my painting class when we needed to do a still-life, the cafeteria only had bananas.

    1. What you can’t see in this picture is that the bananas on the next row down are priced 20 yen more.

    2. It probably has a plate that lifts up to the level of the banana, which is then pushed onto the plate and lowered down.  They wouldn’t do it any other way.

    1. 見てごらん! is probably a better translation, invoking the “behold!” element of the statement, IMHO.

  3. I live in Montreal and have noticed, for the first time, bunches of bananas in plastic bags in some supermarkets. I assumed it was a spoilage thing as I read somewhere —  maybe here — that plastic wrapping fruits and veggies is actually “greener” in that they last longer? 

    1. Most time when produce is pre-packaged, It’s for things like grapes where they can fall on the floor and people slip on them.
      And when they want to speed checkout with pre weighed packages for self-checkout.
      Quite a few discount stores only sell things like bell peppers, bananas in unit priced bag with scanner codes.

  4. I cannot look at this banana vending machine.  I”m too busy looking at the ground so I don’t step in frozen banana shards and at the rooftops for banana snipers.

  5. Now I think off it, the packaging probably helps keep the machine clean more so than the banana.
    I’d bet after a few months of those metal spirals rubbing on the banana they’d probably attract flies–plus they look they’d be a PITA to clean. 

    1. Bananas get bruised easily, but the bruise takes time to develop.

      Moral: Eat your vending-machine banana RIGHT NOW!

  6. Even weirder than banana vending machine is the fresh flower vending machine.

    Beer vending machines are a godsend, however.

  7. I don’t get why this is interesting. I’ve seen bananas in vending machines all over the world. Here’s an example: 


    and the concept goes back until at least the 1920s 

    Individually wrapped bananas in the US/UK


    and i’ve certainly seen them in other countries as well

    I guess because it’s “in Japan” it somehow becomes exotic/cool even when it’s not?

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