Spinning the globe for our next story, we're taking you to the island nation of Japan. With 126.7 million people living there, the country has less than 40 percent of the population size of the U.S., and yet Japan has 5 million vending machines, compared to America's 7 million. So, significantly more machines per person in Japan.
We're touring the country now to show you the impacts this has on Japan's economy and its way of life.
WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There's one on almost every corner. They line side streets, train stations. Vending machines are an essential part of life in Japan. You could almost go an entire day fueled on stuff from them.
Let's begin with breakfast.They have premium banana. Low sugar banana.
Definitely need coffee.
Red means hot. Blue means cold.
One of my absolute favorite things about Japan. Hot coffee in a can.
A hot lunch too. Not your ordinary cup of noodle. This machine sells oden, a savory stew.
Fish balls, or beef tendon, fish balls.
Hmm, I can see why this is popular in the winter times. The can is so warm and it tastes good.
Vending machines work around the clock, so they don't require people at the cash register. And you can buy what you want, when you want. No matter what you drink, there's a good chance the vending machine was made here, near Nagoya.
Fuji Electric counts about 20 beverage companies as clients. The machines come in different sizes and colors. But they're all pretty much the same inside.
"That gives us efficiency," says factory manager Mitsuhiro Saka. "We used manufacture machines in large quantities. But it's become smaller."
There are 5 million vending machines in Japan, according to the latest figures from the manufacturers association. That's one machine for every 25 people, said to be the highest concentration in the world. But those figures have actually declined a bit over the last decade in part from rising competition. It's still a very big business.
Vending machines sold more than $42 billion worth of goods in 2015, keeping all that cash safe is a serious concern, even in a low crime nation like Japan. So, we can't show you the money collection components inside the door. But I did learn how they make my coffee hot.
"We develop a hybrid system," explains Saka. "That uses exhaust heat created by the cooling chamber to warm up your drink to 55 degrees Celsius, all the while saving energy."
But now, 24-hour convenience stores the Japanese called konbinis compete with vending machines for customers and beverage makers face a struggle securing new locations.
For operators like Ichiro Yonoi (ph), the challenge is still to refill machines with the bestselling products. He tells us he's been doing this for 12 years. He handles about 3,500 cans a day.
Technology could make his job easier. Smart vending machines connected to the Internet are able to collect sales data, even notify the repairman when they break down, another evolution for an every day object that's evolving, along with modern life in Japan.