During my time in Japan, I have seen a lot of strange things from vending machines. You are likely to find vending machines on almost every corner here in Japan -- even in residential areas. There is a small one literally 30 seconds from my front door, right at the edge of someone's driveway. If I am ever in need of a Gatorade, CC Lemon, or a coffee, I don't have to travel far at all to get my fix.
While drink vending machines are in abundance (selling anything from coffees to teas to soft drinks/sports drinks and even alcohol), machines containing foods are pretty rare. In America, our vending machines are not as readily accessible, but the balance between soda machines and snack machines is pretty well balanced. (Maybe this is one of America's downfalls -- we make it WAY too easy to get high calorie nothingness.) However, this morning on the news, I witnessed something new and strange that I would like to see in person one day. Food from cans, sold in vending machines. They were showing these kinds of vending machines in the Akihabara (Tokyo area) eki (train station).
I've seen at least one of the culprits in the stores before -- it's something my friends and I routinely make fun of for looking nasty (and I'm sure having more sodium than your 2,400 mg / day limit) -- that being おでんODEN in a can. I can't really understand the appeal to Oden, but I suppose you don't mess with tradition. (I actually haven't ever tried Oden -- shame on me.) Since this dish is traditionally only eaten during the winter, I'm sure that putting it in a can was a logical step in providing the dish year round.
Some of the other foods featured on the segment were:
ラーメン (ramen) -- you can buy it hot or cold and it comes with a little fork to eat it with. They were trying to make the ramen look nice, but it just wasn't working. I'd go for the freeze dried version over this canned version if I had to choose between the two.
焼鳥 (grilled chicken, served traditionally on a bamboo skewer -- they keep that tradition even in a can!).
My favorite of all the canned foods was canned BREAD! And not just regular bread (because that's not any fun, although they do have plain bread), but different kinds of dessert-type breads. I wonder what canned bread tastes like?
Oh Japan, I love you for your creativity. I really must give you props in coming up with some of the strangest things and then putting them in vending machines. What a great country. =)