Now a Vending Machine Thing: Bear Meat

Japan does it again
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 3, 2023 2:13 PM CDT
Now a Vending Machine Thing: Bear Meat
Tourists use vending machines in Osaka, western Japan in 2019. No, not of the bear variety.   (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

Japan, the country that brought you whale meat in a vending machine, has a popular new flavor of vending machine meat, and there's a certain four-legged segment of the wild population that's not going to be happy to hear it: bears. That's right, for the bargain price of about $16.50 for half a pound, tourists and locals alike in northern Akita prefecture can partake of some locally harvested fresh bear meat—which the Guardian reports is "an unlikely hit." The vending machine has been up and running since November near a rail station in Semboku, adds Sky News, and it's predictably available around the clock. The idea was the brainchild of local restaurant Soba Goro, which was hunting for a tourist attraction.

A local hunting club does the killing, the animals are processed in a slaughterhouse, and into the vending machine a mix of lean and fatty meat goes. How actually popular is popular? The machine unloads between 10 and 15 packs a week, and often runs out. And Tokyo, some 250 miles away, has come calling for mail deliveries, per Sky. "Bear meat tastes clean, and it doesn’t get tough," a Soba Goro rep says. Suggested uses are a "wide range," but include "steaks to stews." (More strange stuff stories.)

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