Food Ticket Machines

If you've ever eaten at a ramen shop, curry shop, beef bowl restaurant or any number of inexpensive restaurant chains in Japan, then you probably at least once experienced buying a ticket from a food ticket vending machine.

Generally speaking, shops that get very crowded and some restaurant chains use ticket vending machines, called shokkenki 食券機 (like the one at ramen chain Ichiran seen below) to handle the ordering and paying process. The advantages over conventional pay-after-you-eat dining are numerous. Shops can reduce time and labor, not to mention possible errors in processing verbal customer orders and calculating payments.

EverJean from Hakata ramen restaurant Ichiran in Fukuoka, Fukuoka [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Since such food ticket machines are not typically found outside of Japan, for many visitors, they represent something unique and cool from everyday Japanese life.

Shokkenki Button As A Keychain Toy

While it would be hard to bring a whole shokkenki ticket machine back to your home country as a souvenir, toy and apparel maker Kitan Club can offer you the next best thing!

This is a keychain toy in the shape of a shokkenki button, which lights up like a real machine button does, can be pressed, and even displays a red "sold out" message afterwards. Adding to the realism, you also get a plastic replica of the food ticket corresponding to your button which attaches to your keychain together with the toy. Perhaps as an in-house joke, the tickets feature fictional shop names with locations in walking distance to Kitan Club's headquarters in Yoyogi.

With permission from © Kitan Club Co., Ltd.

Let's take a look at their lineup of six types:

Tempura Soba or Udon

A bowl of hot steaming soba or udon noodles topped with tempura, this is a common noodle dish enjoyed all over Japan.

With permission from © Kitan Club Co., Ltd.

Ticket: "Kitan Soba Yoyogi Branch" (Yoyogi is a neighborhood in the northern part of Shibuya Ward).


If you aren't familiar with it, katsudon is a rice bowl with breaded pork cutlet (sliced into strips) and with a sweet and savory sauce. Tasty and filling, not to mention a favorite among students studying for exams (since the "katsu" in katsudon also means "win"), katsudon is a common menu item in Japanese restaurants.

With permission from © Kitan Club Co., Ltd.

Ticket: "Kitan Soba Yoyogi Branch" (Yes, you can sometimes find katsudon in soba or udon shops.)


With permission from © Kitan Club Co., Ltd.

Ticket: "Ramen Kitan Sangubashi Branch" (Sangubashi is a neighborhood in Shibuya Ward, Tokyo).


Chashu-men チャーシューメン is ramen containing chashu チャーシュー, the Japanese version of Chinese char siu 叉焼, pork belly braised in soy sauce, sake, and mirin.

With permission from © Kitan Club Co., Ltd.

Ticket: "Ramen Kitan Sangubashi Branch"

Gyudon (nami)

Gyudon 牛丼 is a rice bowl topped with beef and onion with a mildly sweet sauce flavored with dashi, soy sauce and mirin. It sometimes also includes shirataki noodles, and is sometimes topped with a raw egg or a soft poached egg. There are many restaurant chains, such as Yoshinoya and Sukiya which specialize in gyudon. The nami 並 in parentheses means "normal size" since you can often also choose oomori 大盛 (meaning "big serving") and maybe even other sizes of gyudon as well.

With permission from © Kitan Club Co., Ltd.

Ticket: "Kitan-ya Jingumae Branch" (Jingumae is a neighborhood in ... you guessed it, Shibuya Ward). Other text on the ticket includes: "Thank you for your patronage", "receipt" (since you can detach a part and keep it as a receipt), "only valid on day of purchase / not valid if previously detached" and "Kitan Foods."

Curry and Rice

With permission from © Kitan Club Co., Ltd.

Ticket: "Kitan-ya Jingumae Branch"


These keychain toys are sold at selected Tokyu Hands, Loft, Village Vanguard, Yodobashi Camera, Bic Camera, AEON Mall shops, as well as other shops throughout Japan where capsule toy dispensers are found. You can see the complete list of approved shops here (in Japanese).

More information is available at Kitan Club's website.

Hands On

We were able to buy one at Tokyu Hands in Shibuya, so here's what it actually looks like fresh out of the capsule dispenser:

Photo by © grape Japan

...and it's curry with rice!

Photo by © grape Japan

After turning it on:

Photo by © grape Japan

After pressing the button:

Photo by © grape Japan

Looks like we have a new keychain toy!

Photo by © grape Japan


  • Japanese Name: 食券ライトマスコット (Shokken Raito Masukotto)
  • English translation: Food Ticket Toy with Lights
  • Maker: Kitan Club Co., Ltd.
  • Type: Capsule Toy
  • Dimensions: Button (approx. 35 mm X 45 mm), Ticket (approx. 25mm X 45mm)
  • Price: 300 JPY (incl. tax)
  • Varieties: 6
  • Materials: ABS (button, ticket), copper (ball chain)
  • Country of manufacture: China

By - Ben K.