When you say “vending machine” to most consumers in Japan, the color red likely comes to mind. Red, of course, is for Coca-Cola and our more than 980,000 vending machines in the Japanese market. 

For non-Japanese consumers, looking into a vending machine here can be a dizzying experience of Coca-Cola brands never imagined: Kocha Kaden Royal Milk Tea, Sokenbicha, Karada Sukoyakacha, Luana, Real Gold, Taiyo no Matecha, and the list goes on.

I’ve been living in Japan for almost a year and still have not tried all of Coca-Cola’s more than 50 brands here. Part of the reason is the amazing seasonality in what is offered – more sports drinks, waters, juice drinks and cold coffees in the summer; unique hot beverages in the fall and winter; and, of course, lots of green tea year round.

Before I came to Japan last year, I knew about our company’s billion-dollar brands that were born in Japan – Aquarius, Georgia and Ayataka – but I did not appreciate just how ubiquitous these local brands are in the fabric of Japanese life.

In addition to these big sellers, during my time here I’ve grown to love a number of products you can’t find widely available in other markets (and certainly not in the United States). To name a few: Georgia coffee – especially Georgia European and a new offering called Georgia Emerald Mountain Premium; Aquarius Zero; and, my most recent find, Minute Maid Hachimitsu Yuzu.

To document and demystify this enormous variety of Coca-Cola products to non-Japanese consumers, the photo below showcases the current selection of beverages in the vending machine nearest my desk at the Coca-Cola Japan office in Tokyo. You’ll note that at this time all the color strips above the buttons are blue, indicating the availability of cold beverages. As summer turns to fall, however, many of these strips will start turning red to indicate the shift to increased hot beverage availability for winter.

Products in a Japan vending machine

Oh, and P.S., even with all this selection, I still squeeze in at least one Coca-Cola Zero every day. Some things are just a part of life wherever you live!

Kent Landers is vice president of public affairs and communications for Coca-Cola Japan, based in Tokyo. He is on a one-year assignment in this role and will return to his home in Atlanta at the end of this year. When he leaves Japan, he says he’ll miss Japanese convenience stores, an amazing railway system, Georgia Coffee and, of course, being called “Kento-san.”