Station vending machine selling bear meat for £13 sparks mad rush for a taste

Wild bear meat being sold for £13 a strip at a train station vending machine is proving a surprise hit in Japan.

The vending machine has been installed near the JR Tazawako Station, in Semboku, Akita, Japan, but has people as far away as Tokyo – 350 miles from Semboka – enquiring about mail orders.

The meat of locally captured wild bears is mainly purchased by bullet train passengers, with a choice of lean and fatty meat, for 2,200 (£13) yen for 250 grams.

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The bears are captured in the mountains of the city by members of a local hunting club and processed at a slaughterhouse, according to Japanese daily Mainichi.

The 24-hour vending machine apparently sells 10 to 15 packs a week, lessened when hunting season is off.

Nearby restaurant Soba Goro installed the machine in Novenmber, in a bid to make the meat a delicacy. "Local souvenir from Akita" reads a sign on the machine.

"(Bear meat) tastes clean, and it doesn't get tough, even when cold. It can be enjoyed in a wide range of dishes, from stew to steaks," a representative told the aforementioned title.

Japan has about 4.1 million vending machines in operation, the most in the world per capita, containing an array of foods that would raise eyebrows among westerners.

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Bug snack vending machines have popped up Osaka and Tokyo's Nakano Broadway, offering a variety of insects like Zebra Tarantula, chocolate coated grasshoppers, Rhinoceros Beatles, and Armored Tail Scorpions.

Entrepreneur Osawa Asami set up a vending machine at a camping facility in Nagano Prefecture, central Japan.

“I hope people will feel open to trying it and take it home with them as souvenirs,” she said.

The menu consists of 18 types of deep-fried insects, including crickets and grasshoppers. Some are sprinkled with salt, and some are chocolate flavoured. Prices range from 1,000 to 2,600 yen, or between £5 and £16.60.

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