What do miso ramen (みそラメン), udon (うどん), Coca-Cola, hamburgers, toilet paper, oden (おでん), used women’s panties (maybe), and stockings have in common? Do you give up? Well, they are all things that you can get from vending machines here in Japan…I sh*t you not. I haven’t gotten to use the stocking or panties machines…for obvious reasons, but I’ve heard they are out there…somewhere. The used school girl’s panties thing, if it’s true, is just sad. There was a time when men would pay quite a bit for those from what I understand. I also hear that men used steal women’s panties that were hanging out out to dry on laundry racks. I seriously don’t get it, but I digress. I was reading this Japanese comic that was translated into English, and it mentioned some of the things you can find in a Japanese vending machine. I was surprised to hear about the hamburgers and Oden, but I on my way back home, I stopped by a vending right here in Tsukuba that sold ramen, cold and hot oden, as well as Udon. I indulged myself and bought one of each.
*Oden is like a stew made from dashi, or fish stock, and usually has all kinds of chunky goodness: boiled eggs, konyaku (the devil’s tongue), processed fish cakes, etc.
**Udon is a Japanese dish that’s like soup, but the noodles are a much thicker than your standard ramen noodles. Generally it’s EXTREMELY good.
I got home, popped open those cans, knowing that I was in for some amazing treats. It’s rare indeed that I’m disappointed by food in Japan, but, sadly…much to my surprise…none of them were very good. The ramen had this layer of visible oil that simply turned my tastebuds off, but i did try it. The udon and oden were better than the ramen, but that really isn’t saying a whole lot. I felt bad wasting food, but I threw away most of what I bought 🙁 .
It is possible that I just picked a bad machine. Or it could be that after having been exposed to the incredible, high quality, low-cost ramen, udon, and oden that I can get at restaurants (Conbini Oden is pretty tasty, too) I was disappointed. If you’re really, REALLY hungry, you can resort to these, but I don’t think I’ll be doing it again. As for me, if I want quick miso ramen, I’ll go the cup ramen route…it’s far tastier. With Oden I’ll just go to Family Mart, and Udon…I’ll just have to find a good shop, sit down for a bit and get some.
Or, I know! If you’re interested in trying Japanese vending machines and supporting a good cause at the same time, you should try donating blood. The Japanese Red Cross in Tsukuba provides free snacks and free access to their vending machines, which had soup, drinks, and things that were actually good. It helps you to keep your strength up/stay hydrated after the blood-donation process.
Thanks for reading. Be careful with those vending machines, sometimes you get what you pay for…sometimes you don’t. These three weren’t actually all that cheap in the grand scheme of things: Miso Ramen ￥320 yen, Udon ￥300, and Oden ￥300.
P.S.-I’m back from my brief birthday hiatus! I took some time to go to the mountains…literally…reflect, relax, and just really think about things…my father’s birthday comment got my brain churning a bit (thanks Dad!). I have some cool posts coming this week (I think they’re cool anyway) so please stay tuned this week, okay?