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Japan's 'first' raw-oyster vending machine keeps locals served at all hours

A vending machine for raw oysters and its attached locker containing the products are seen in the city of Tatsuno, Hyogo Prefecture, on Dec. 23, 2020. (Mainichi/Nao Goto)

TATSUNO, Hyogo -- Locals in this west Japan city can satisfy their appetite for oysters anytime thanks to a roadside vending machine here said to be the country's first ever for raw oysters.

    The unique machine is operated by oyster shop "Kakiya," located at the same site. Originally, the shop sold oysters only from its staffed store, but installed the machine in 2016 after the husband of 47-year-old owner Ayako Eto suggested setting it up as a way for customers to buy their products any time without having to worry about closing times.

    To buy the oysters, patrons insert their money into the machine and receive a key that opens the refrigerated locker next to it. The key comes attached to a carton of juice stored in the vending machine, which Eto says customers can keep as a bonus part of the deal. After using a key, customers place them in a collection box.

    The oysters available vary depending on shipments, and generally come in two or three configurations, with 1 kilogram of mixed-sized shells going for 750 yen being the main product. The machine is scheduled for refills daily in the morning, noon, and evening, and it functions while stocks last. The same types of oysters are available from the staffed store during business hours.

    (Japanese original by Nao Goto, Himeji Bureau)

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