It dispenses 10 insect snack, ranging from a protein bar containing powdered crickets (700 yen, $6.38), tinned tarantula (1,900 yen - $17.34) and salted crickets (1,300 yen - $11.86).
To cater for consumers with a sweet tooth, some of the insects are coated in chocolate.
Environment and food security
Toshiyuki Tomoda installed the machine in November last year outside his balloon shop in the city to raise awareness about environmental issues and enhance the appeal of edible insects.
He was shocked when around 500 items – about ¥500,000 in total – were bought from the machine during the first month of its operation.
Tokyo-based insect snack producer Takeo LLC supplies the products for the Kumamoto machine.
The company’s website is filled with enthusiastic comments from buyers who have sample some of its specialized products like the Takeo Tokyo Edible Orthoptera Insects Mix Snack, which includes four kinds of Orthoptera insects (grasshoppers, bush crickets in two sizes, mole crickets), Larvae Mix (millworm, super worm, sago worm and silkworm), tinned ants and chocolate-covered scorpions.
A sprinkle of cayenne and a dollop of mayo: they taste like shellfish
Tomoda likens the flavor of crickets to shellfish.
“They go well with mayonnaise and ichimi-togarashi (cayenne pepper),” he said.
“I hope the machine will provide people with an opportunity to review the importance of food in this food-infatuated age.”
Insects have been consumed for centuries, with huge spiders considered a delicacy in parts of South America and water bugs popular in Thailand.
Today, advocates say they are a nutritious answer to the world’s worsening food shortages.