Home Society & Culture Japan’s Meowing & Barking Cash Registers Prove There’s A Way To Make Grocery Shopping An Adorable Experience [Video]

Japan’s Meowing & Barking Cash Registers Prove There’s A Way To Make Grocery Shopping An Adorable Experience [Video]

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Leave it to Japan to turn something absolutely impersonal into something kawaii.

Around much of the world, the steady beep of people scanning barcodes at checkout stations has become one of those inescapable sounds of modern life. It doesn’t matter which supermarket you go to, that beep beep beep is always there to put a high-pitched period on your shopping experience. That is, unless you happen to do your shopping in Japan where rather than beeping many cash registers sound like animals.

Called Nyan Nyan Reji (Meow Meow Cash Register) and Wan Wan Reji (Woof Woof Cash Register), the machines in the video above are for the most part pretty run-of-the-mill. You go up to the “reji,” you scan your bananas or whatever it is you’re buying, and when you’re done you pay the machine and leave, all without ever even having to look someone in the face or say a word. However, with these checkout stations, every time you scan your item, what you get is the adorable (or annoying) sound of either a cat or dog, resulting in fairly surreal experiences like watching a 70-year-old man buying beer and drinking snacks to a chorus of excited puppies and kittens.

Video above was shot at Super Center Trial (Beppu, Oita)

The peculiar nature of these self checkout stations, of course, raises all sorts of questions. Who came up with this idea? When were they released? Do they have any effect on sales (i.e. people like cats so they want to shop more)? How many of these machines are there in Japan? Are they available outside of Japan? What do shoppers think of them? And so forth. Unfortunately, the answers to these questions don’t seem to be online. In fact, the amount of information online about these machines is very limited. YouTube videos and websites make it clear that meowing and barking self checkout stations can be found across much of Japan and not just at Trial locations. They seem to have been around since at least 2015 and one post on a Japanese website mentions that there is even a sheep version called a Meh Meh Reji (Baa Baa Cash Register) but there do not appear to be any videos of this type online.

Sign for Nyan Nyan Reji

In an effort to answer these lingering and oh so important questions, Japankyo reached out to two different supermarkets in Japan and even the maker: a subsidiary of electronics giant Toshiba called Toshiba TEC.

Unfortunately, at every turn, the checkout machines seemed to be shrouded in mystery. Supermarket employees knew little about the machines and a Toshiba TEC representative that Japankyo was in intermittent contact with over the span of roughly two months ended up being of little help.

After several emails and three phone calls, the¬†aforementioned Toshiba TEC representative finally said that even though they make these checkout stations, they are not involved with the meowing/barking aspect. Instead, it was the representative’s claim that third party distributors were responsible for that. And when asked for contact information for said distributors, the representative refused to provide anything.

Why exactly information about these machines is so hard to come by and why Toshiba TEC seems to be so secretive is quite confusing. The logical explanation is that the meowing and barking is the result of nothing more than a change in the console’s settings. However, given the hush hush nature of the Toshiba TEC’s attitude, one can’t help but think that perhaps they’re trying to keep something under wraps, like say, the fact that the sounds made by the registers are due to Toshiba TEC stuffing kittens and puppies into each machine… just a theory.

In any case, next time you’re in Japan and go to a supermarket, keep an eye out for one of these mysterious registers. At the very least, they’re good for a laugh.

Top image: Pixabay
Images: Japankyo

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