One unique feature of the Japanese restaurant scene is what’s called the shokken, literally “meal ticket,” system. At a shokken system restaurant customers select their meal and pay in advance at a vending machine near the entrance. The machine spits out a slip of paper which is then handed to the restaurant staff in exchange for the food.
Shokken are especially common at restaurants that specialize in budget-friendly fare like ramen and beef bowls, because they allow the restaurants to operate with a smaller staff to keep costs, and in turn the prices they charge, low. The shokken system eliminates the need for workers to spend time taking orders, ringing customers up, and giving change.
There are other upsides too, in that it’s often speedier and more accurate than placing an order with a waiter. Plus, the reduced amount of human interaction makes it a lot easier to pay with bloodstained bills, at least for a few months until someone catches on and the police haul you in.