Wild game gives us some unique ingredients to experiment with in the SoraKitchen.

Japan has had great drink vending machines for decades. Since the start of the pandemic, though, we’ve been seeing a country make huge strides in its variety of food vending machines.

We’re not talking machines with simple boxes of Pocky or bags of wet potato chips, either. We’ve found vending machines selling surprisingly tasty ramen and sushi, and our Japanese-language reporter Haruka Takagi recently came across something even more surprising: a wild game vending machine.

Haruka discovered the machine during her travels in Wakayama City. It’s located right next to the entrance to Inoya, a meat processing center for wild game located along Prefectural Route 7.

The machine sells venison and wild boar, both available sliced or ground. Everything is priced at 1,000 yen (US$7.50), and the machine only accepts 1,000-yen bills. Thankfully, Haruka had two on her, and made her first purchase a 350-gram (12.3-ounce) pack of ground venison.

For her second purchase, Haruka selected a 240-gram pack of wild boar, sliced thin for flat-grilling yakiniku-style.

The machine’s meat is frozen and vacuum-sealed for freshness, so after Haruka got back to her kitchen she opened her purchases up and thawed them out.

Because most people in Japan don’t eat wild game very regularly, the packs …continue reading