Japan

We accidentally buy some silkworm candy at Hokkaido’s Vending Machine Land

We attempt to get over our dislike of eating insects by… eating some insects. 

Say ‘Japanese vending machine’ to people living outside of Japan and you may get some unscrupulous responses, but the truth is for the most part, Japanese vending machines tend to sell nothing but drinks. Vending machines selling food have seen an increase in popularity in recent years, but despite what urban myths might have you believe, you’d be hard pressed to find a vending machine in Japan that sold something truly weird and wacky.

That’s not to say that Japan is completely void of vending machines with unique wares, though, and statistically speaking, the more vending machines in one place, the more likely one of them is to contain something remarkable. So when our Hokkaido Prefecture-based reporter Atol heard that a new store dedicated entirely to vending machines with unusual contents had opened nearby, they knew she had to head there post haste.

The store, called ‘Jihanki Land‘ (or ‘Vending Machine Land‘) is located in Sapporo City’s Shiroishi Ward. As Atol approached the store, they were immediately met with some vending machines selling ramen, but not just any old ramen; heavyweights in the ramen world, like Hakata Ramen and Ramen Jiro.

They also sold ox tongue, which must have been pretty high quality as it was 2,500 yen (US$19.36) for 2 pieces of 80 grams (2.82 ounces). But as delicious as the ox tongue surely was, that’s not what Atol was here for. They were here to find the weird and wacky that could only be discovered in a place called ‘Vending Machine Land’, so they had a look around at the other machines.

A quick glance inside the shop saw vending machines for sashimi, more ramen and fromage, but it was a quick glance to their right that helped Atol to find just the kind of thing they were after —

A machine that sold edible insects!

Atol is not someone who is super keen on entomophagy (the fancy term used for eating insects), but there was one product that immediately caught their eye with its catchy tagline —

▼ “The time has come to eat black scorpions that look like they’re from Dragon Quest!”

With a tagline like that, Atol momentarily overcame their hatred of eating bugs and immediately reached for their wallet, ready to shell out some cash and do battle with the Black Scorpions. Unfortunately, it seemed that another group of Heroes had taken on the battle before them, as they were all sold out. Hopefully they dropped some decent loot.

Atol decided that the black scorpions being sold out was a sign that they’d entered into the entomophagy game far too hastily, and should instead ease herself in with something less challenging. They spotted a few tins of candy drops in varying flavours — crickets, grasshoppers and silkworms.

Each tin cost 600 yen (US$4.64), and while Atol wasn’t anywhere close to being an expert on insects, they assumed the grasshopper and crickets would have a similar taste. Atol also assumed that grasshoppers would most likely taste better than whatever silkworms probably taste like, so they opted for the grasshopper drops.

They put in 600 yen and pressed the button marked ‘5’.

The tin of drops fell down with a slight thud, and Atol reached into the vending machine slot, ready to retreive the grasshopper drops.

…except what came out looked a little different to what was on display.

… and they’d somehow managed to buy a tin of silkworm drops instead!!

It was the choice she’d wanted the least, but now Atol was left with a tin of silkworm drops in hand. While they weren’t over the moon at the idea of eating them, they’d heard that silkworms were a great source of protein, plus they’re high in calories and rich in unsaturated fatty acids. Either way, there was nothing left for to do but give them a try.

At a glance, the silkworm drops looked just like regular candy drops covered in a white substance. Unlike the times that Atol’s fellow reporters have tried eating bugs, the fact that these drops contained silkworm was very well concealed.

But as Atol checked the tin, ‘silkworm powder‘ was listed as one of the ingredients, and the white substance that seemed like icing sugar suddenly looked… strangely appetising.

As Atol popped a silkworm drop, it immediately delivered a seafood-y flavour, like crab or shrimp. It was very powdery, though. After the initial seafood-y taste, Atol’s tastebuds experienced a slight sweetness, followed by a mild sour aftertaste. Atol’s tongue was left feeling a little course and rough from the powder, but other than that it felt like a very adult-like, high quality candy. It’s certainly a unique candy, at any rate.

And with that, Atol completed a rite of passage required for all SoraNews24 reporters and finally ate some insects. Considering entomophagy is becoming more and more ubiquitous, there may be a time in the future where eating insects is considered as commonplace as snacks from a convenience store.

Photos © SoraNews24
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[ Read in Japanese ]



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