Different types of Japanese fast foods and how to use food ticket vending machines

By YamamotoChika

Different types of Japanese fast foods and how to use food ticket vending machines

There are many fast food chains in the world, such as McDonalds. KFC, Burger King, Taco Bell, Subway, and Starbucks, which serve burgers, fried chicken, Tex-Mex, sandwiches, coffee etc, and many of those exist in Japan as well.


There are many fast food restaurants with dishes you've never seen before, let's try in Japan.


However, there are more varieties of fast food chains in Japan that you do not see elsewhere. In Japan, there are a lot of people who prefer to eat their meals quickly, by themselves, so that they can promptly go back to work or whatever activities they are going back to. This created a unique fast food ecosystem that serves dishes like Japanese curry, rice bowl, takoyaki, udon, soba, ramen, and gyudon. Some of those chains have more of a restaurant-style, where servers will come and get your orders, but others use food ticket vending machines.

Though food ticket vending machines are becoming more and more popular, machines at smaller chains or restaurants may not support multiple languages. They may use old-style buttons and printed rather than digital displays. In that case, try using Google translate, or ask someone at the restaurant how to order what you want. Many of those vending machines have recommended items at the top left; in Japanese. These recommended items are called Osusume.

How to use the food ticket vending machines

When you enter these restaurants, staff will greet you by calling out, "Irasshaimase," or welcome, and if you see a vending machine near the entrance, that is a food ticket vending machine.

1. Step in front of the ticket machine.

At busy times, there may be a line of people waiting to use it.


2. Change the display to English, if there’s an option.

Many newer vending machines will have an English option for the menu. If not, staff or other customers can help you if you have difficulty ordering.


3. Choose what you want to order. 

Many digital display vending machines also have pictures of the dishes, so you can select whatever looks good to you.


4. Select the size, quantity and toppings you would like to order. 

There could be options to customize toppings and side dishes, so customize your selections as you please.


5. Select a payment method. 

Cash and credit cards are commonly used almost everywhere, but in Japan, you also can use prepaid e-money cards such as Suica or Pasmo, which many people use for public transportation payments. Smaller restaurants may only take cash.


6. Verify your order. 

Verify the quantity, toppings, and price, then proceed with the payment. 


7. Take the tickets that print out from the machine and seat yourself at a counter, then give the staff your tickets. 

In most cases, they will bring the food to you. If there’s a number on the ticket, you may need to listen for the number and go pick your dishes up when the number is called or displayed overhead.

When you find fast food places you can’t find in the country you’re from and you are interested in their food, try them out! There might be some language barrier initially, but the people who work at those fast food restaurants will greet you and help you as much as they can. There is a welcoming culture in Japan called omotenashi, which you probably can also experience in fast food shops with food ticket vending machines.