Japan is famous for vending machines on every corner of the streets that sell everything from drinks to cigarettes. Other items on the selling list include sushi, lettuce, bread and fried chicken. 34-year-old Toshiyuki Tomoda, however, appears unsatisfied with the current offerings.

Tomoda, who runs a balloon shop in Japan's Kumamoto, installed a vending machine in November last year that sells snacks made from insects such as cricket protein bars, unicorn beetles, and canned tarantulas.

His machine offers about ten different snacks all made from insects and generates about 500,000 Japanese yen ($4,560) in profits every month.

Tomoda decided to install the machine while he was talking to his friend about environmental issues. His concern was that food shortages could begin soon, according to Yomiuri Shimbun.

From seaweeds to pizza in Japan

Tomoda is not alone in this journey to offer something unique through a vending machine in Japan.

One of the latest examples is the country's Saga Prefecture, which is poised to set up these machines to sell dried seaweed. The machine, which will be installed at Saga Airport in February, will be the first of its kind in Japan, according to Yomiuri Shimbun.

Four slides of dried seaweeds come in a well-designed pack, and it will cost 300 Japanese yen. ($3.00) In August last year, a vending machine that sells pizza appeared in Hiroshima. The machine, dubbed Pizza Self, prepares a pizza in five minutes for customers and the pizza comes in several different flavors.

It costs only about 980 Japanese yen ($8.00)

Empire of vending machines

Japan has a reputation of being the empire of vending machines, and they have been one of the popular sources of social discussion worldwide. Japan introduced its first vending machine in 1888 that sold cigarettes. Since then, a wide variety of vending machines have been developed to sell different products.

There are currently about 5.52 million vending machines across the country.

In other words, there is approximately one vending machine for every 23 people.

The global vending machine market is predicted to surpass revenue of over $30 billion by 2024, according to a 2019 Global Market Insights report. In Japan, the annual sales from the machines reach almost US$ 63.5 billion. The report cited high growth due to a rise in the development of the energy-efficient solutions by manufacturers that will help companies to reduce costs, and Japan is no exception.

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