SATURDAY, February 24, 2024

Diaper vending machines get parental seal of approval in Japan

Diaper vending machines get parental seal of approval in Japan

TOKYO - Vending machines that sell small batches of diapers are popping up at roadside stations and commercial facilities, drawing praise from moms and dads looking to buy just a few when they're out with baby.

A vending machine stocked with disposable diapers has stood next to a changing table in the baby lounge at the Olynas Kinshicho shopping mall in Sumida Ward, Tokyo, since last October. The paper diapers come in two sizes and are wrapped in a cylindrical shape like a beverage can. Each pack contains two diapers and sells for 220 yen ($2.04 U.S.).

A package of diapers is delivered from a Tokyo vending machine. MUST CREDIT: Japan News-Yomiuri photo

"It's such a relief when I forget to bring diapers or run out," said a 24-year-old woman who entered the lounge to change her baby. "I don't have to worry when I go out with my son now."

According to the employee in charge of the lounge, the machine sells about 20 packs a month. 

"Many customers shop with small children, so we thought about how we could make the lounge more convenient," he said. "The diapers have sold better than expected, assuring us of the need for them."

When they're outside with their children, many parents would like to purchase just a few diapers when they run out. Diapers are usually sold in bags of about 20 to 100, and the idea to sell small batches from beverage vending machines was inspired by this inconvenience. 

Beverage maker Dydo Drinco teamed up last year with diaper maker Daio Paper Corp. to install vending machines for disposable diapers at roadside stations and commercial facilities such as Olynas, in response to the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry's target to sell single diapers at 220 expressway rest areas nationwide, as well as all government-arranged roadside stations by 2021. 

The companies aim to install 200 machines nationwide.

Kirin Beverage Co. has also set up vending machines for diapers with Kao Corp. since 2017. To date they have installed about 30 such machines at airports and commercial facilities around the country. 

Selling for 200 yen, the diapers come in sets of two and are available in two sizes. Many of the machines also have wipes.

The move came after a Kirin subsidiary consulted with Welcome Baby Project, a Yokohama-based nonprofit organization that supports child-rearing. Sales from some of the machines will be used to fund the project's activities.

A project leader who is also a member of the nonprofit organization Comachiplus said: "Vending machines are accessible 24 hours a day and are very convenient. We'd like to expand this project as part of our efforts to create a community that's friendly to families with children.