Tokyo: Restaurant vending machines and high-tech toilets

So after yesterday’s post you know that some cafes, noodle bars and other food outlets display their menu items as plastic food in the window. Once you’ve picked the dish that you’d like to eat, there is often a next step, before sitting down and eating: you have to master the food vending machine at the entrance.

If you have not used a Tokyo restaurant vending machine, you will have to learn at some point. But it’s easy, don’t worry. After deciding what you want (just enter the number of the dish), you input your money and select the item. The machine won’t allow you to select an item that is priced higher than the money you put into the machine, but if you select a lower price you’ll get the excess money refunded. You’ll get a little ticket printed below, and when you sit down, you give the ticket to the chef.

So don’t worry, the vending machine does not cook your dish (not like this one on Youtube), all it does is place your order and give you a receipt. I know that there are much more ‘funky’ vending machines out there, from pizza baking to hamburger making and many others, but on this trip, I’ve not encountered them.

Japan is not only famous for its vending machines, but also its high-tech toilets. They come with almost everything, from seat heating, different flush modes, a built-in shower and dryer for your behind and an automatic lid opener. Some even play music, glow in the dark, include automatic air deodorizing or intelligent sensors that detect someone standing in front of the toilet and initiate an automatic raising of the lid (if the person is facing away from the toilet) or the lid and seat together (if someone is facing the toilet). One of the most common used button in a public toilet, is the sound button! Apparently many Japanese women are embarrassed at the thought of being heard by others and to cover the sound of bodily functions, many women used to flush public toilets continuously while using them, wasting a large amount of water in the process. As education campaigns did not stop this practice, a device was introduced in the 1980s that, after activation, produces the sound of flushing water without the need for actual flushing.

The control panel is either next to the seat or mounted onto the wall, but unfortunately most of the time it is in Japanese. Although many of the buttons often have pictograms, the flush button is often written only in Kanji, meaning that non-Japanese users may initially find it difficult to locate the correct button!


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