Food Guides

Dagashiya Maboroshido: Retro Vending Machines In The Countryside Operated By A Japanese Grandma

Dagashiya Maboroshido vending machine

Japan is known for its plethora of vending machines, but the one we’re introducing today is hard to come by. In order to cope with Covid-19 restrictions, a Japanese grandma combined her retro Japanese candy store – also known as a dagashiya – with a vending machine,  thus turning it into one of the must-sees in Yaguchi City.

Dagashiya Maboroshido

The grandma’s candy store-cum-vending machine, Dagashiya Maboroshido, is located just in Yaguchi City, Chiba Prefecture. The store is nestled in a secluded bamboo forest and feels like a magical hidden gem.

The array of  vending machines at Maboroshido.

Image credit: @dagashiya_maboroshido

Dagashiya are retro confectionery stores that stock cheap candy called dagashi  (駄菓子). These candy are small in portion and cost next to nothing, hence explaining its name – “駄” here means “useless” or “neglibile”. The low price of these candies were meant to ensure that they remained affordable for young students, especially after World War II.

Typical snacks sold at a dagashiya.
Image credit: @koppepan0123

This grandma’s dagashiya has a twist has it has both a regular storefront, as well as a few vending machines that are manually operated. Guests put their money in a little basket where the money flap usually would be, which is then collected by the person working behind the facade of the vending machine. The customer’s goods are then delivered to them in a neat little paper bag.

A customer’s purchase from Maboroshido.
Image credit: @7chu_pokelive

Maboroshido was first set up when dagashiya owner Yasuko Murayama was faced with mounting Covid-19 restrictions, which meant that businesses had to shorten their operating hours, as well as to implement social-distancing measures.

In order to keep her store running, Murayama had the ingenious idea to operate her store from a control room and have a mascot do most of the interacting with her customers.

Kappa mascot at Dagashiya Maboroshido.
Video adapted from: @_shin.5

The mascot, which takes the form of a kappa – an aquatic creature from Japanese folklore – is controlled from her control room. Through a microphone and speaker set-up, Murayama talks to her customers and everything is monitored by her through a surveillance camera. 

Yasuko Murayama wearing the mascot hat & waving to guests.
Image credit: @dagashiya_maboroshido

Maboroshido sells a variety of candy through the vending machines, as well as an assortment of burgers, soda, and coffee. The coffee, made by Murayama’s daughter, is a favourite among the bikers who often stop by Maboroshido.

In addition to the array of vending machines, the quaint store also features an outdoor mini photo booth with a standee of their kappa mascot, as well as a sitting area for guests. 

Kappa standee & seating area.
Image credit: @sawasdee.0320

Maboroshido’s mascot, Kappa Yappe

The kappa in Japanese folktales may be fearsome at times, but the one at Dagashiya Maboroshido, named Kappa Yappe, is unfailingly helpful and friendly.

Concept art of Kappa Yappe.
Image credit: Dagashiya Maboroshido

Don’t judge poor Kappa Yappe from his concept art – he’s a lot cuter in real life, we promise.

He aids customers in maneuvering around the store and buying things from the “vending machines”, and even pops up from various little windows semi-hidden in the storefront, offering instructions and greetings. 

Dagashiya Maboroshido candy vending machines

Although the store is currently doing well with the business from local tourists and the bikers who stop by, in an interview with SoraNews24, Murayama said that she is unsure if she’ll ever be able to run her store normally again, but hopes to do so in the future. 

If you’re ever in the area, head down to see Maboroshido’s special vending machines and their adorable mascot Kappa Yappe!

Also check out:

Cover image adapted: @dagashiya_maborishido, @dagashiya_maboroshido

Nicole Wee

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