When I first visited Japan, I wanted to try the local ramen. Inside the shopping centre within Kyoto JR station, there was an area where the ramen restaurants were located. I think they named it the Ramen Street. I saw many people queuing outside the restaurants. Some restaurants had a longer queue, while some had a shorter queue. We went for one with a shorter queue as I was hungry. The staff at the door directed us to the vending machine outside the restaurant. For a moment I thought I could purchase a bowl of ramen directly from the vending machine. I was wrong. The machine was meant to take orders and collect the payment.
There were many buttons, and the accompanying text in the buttons were also in Japanese. Thankfully there were some pictures on some of the buttons showing a bowl of ramen, or a plate of gyoza. But there was another problem. The pictures of those ramen looked the same to me. So I randomly picked one. After inserting the coins, the machine dispensed the tickets.
We passed the tickets to the staff who then directed us to an empty table. When the ramen came, it did not disappoint though I wondered what other soup or flavor was available. I wanted to order more items, and it was back to the vending machine. Also, I learnt it is not a myth that the Japanese slurp their ramen with loud noises. From what I was told, in such food-joints the customers leave after finishing their meals, it is not a place for people to chat after a meal. So we left shortly after our meal.
The idea of having a machine to take orders was very intriguing to me and it seems to be a common thing for eateries in Japan. I saw many such machines outside many eateries during my visit. For the business it means hiring one less person to keep the manpower costs low and also eliminating the fear of staff pocketing the money. But for the workers it means one less job opening.
#japan #vendingmachine #ramen