Every country has something unique about it and, for Japan, Gachapon or gashapon are some of the special things people in the country buy.
These little toys are trendy, but what makes them so unique? Learn everything you need to know about gachapons and see whether they need to be one of your purchases on your next trip to Japan.
What Are Gachapon?
Gachapons are various toys packaged in a round plastic container and are found all over Japan. These toys are made using high-quality PVC plastic, are skillfully painted, and have greater molding detail. You simply need to insert a coin into a recognizable vending machine to get them.
Because most of them are viewed as items for collectors, the scarce ones fetch good money in second-hand marketplaces.
These toys are generally licensed from famous characters, including those from:
- Japanese anime
- Video games
- The U.S entertainment industry
Besides being popular in Japan, the world is gradually warming up to these tiny toys, particularly in the adult market. It is common to find that items targeting adults include female figurines.
Every gashapon is released using sets. Every series comes with various figures for consumers to collect. Since people never know what they are about to get, there is a risk of getting the same item over and over.
Therefore, it is almost like gambling since there is risk involved. This scarcity makes everything more desirable to us, so you’ll love finding out if you got the toy you were after.
Dedicated collectors prefer to purchase sets from gachapon stores because sometimes, they might get a fairer deal than buying them one by one from a machine. One of the key manufacturers is Bandai, and the company has been in this industry since 1977. Up to now, they have sold more than 3 billion toys.
If you love getting yourself lost in fantasy and blocking out the world around you, you will love gachapon machines. The main fun of using these machines to obtain the toys is the mystery of not knowing what will be inside the capsule and if it’ll be a popular pick.
The toy items you can get from these machines will cost you between 100 And 500 Yen. The machines are so fun to use that some people become addicted.
If you are a traveler in Japan, you can use the toys as souvenirs to take back home. If you have children, they will love these toys, especially those that resemble their favorite cartoon characters.
The History of Gachapon
These machines’ popularity in Japan started in the 1970s. Initially, users could only get children’s toys from the devices because they were the only ones available. However, the options increased with time to include items that adults could also find interesting.
Nowadays, these machines are available in almost every country, and they contain something for everyone, regardless of age. The selection available is influenced by the location, the month of the year, and the type of gachapon vending machine. Some goods people buy through the machines are useful, while others are just goofy and meant to cheer you up.
How to Use a Gachapon Machine
Using gachapon machines is relatively straightforward. However, you might need a little assistance if you do not know how to read Japanese. The first thing you need to do is to walk around and choose the kind of toy you would like to get. Every machine will bear an image of the item found inside.
There is a high possibility that you will not get precisely what you want, but that makes the game interesting.
Once you have selected the machine you prefer, put the required number of coins inside the coin hole located on the vending machine’s surface. Turn the knob several times until you hear the sound of the falling toy. Put your hand into the opening on the device and take the toy. The toys are encased in a round container made using plastic. Unwrap the tape and open the round container to see the toy inside.
In Japan, recycling is taken seriously because it helps conserve the environment for future generations. Therefore, the government strongly discourages people from throwing away plastic cases carelessly. There is usually a basket above the machine where you can recycle the capsule case. If you cannot find one, reuse it or dispose of it when you come across a recycling box.
Here are some of the fun treats you can expect to find in Gachapon machines
Tiny bags or pouches are some of the things you can buy through the Gachapon machines. You can use the pouches to store your lipstick when going somewhere and put them into your handbag or use them as a pencil carrier if you’re a student.
You can also come across different types of miniature furniture, including lamps and desks. If you buy a light, you’ll be surprised to learn it works as an actual lamp. Despite its tiny size, you can use a switch to turn on the light. You can also adjust its height. Kids can enjoy playing with it when playing with their dollhouses.
Food-Based Key Chains
Most of us love having an exciting keychain, and why not have yours that shows your favorite snack? Gachapon has many food-based items that are cute and fun. Keep an eye out for gachapon keychains of something delicious to add to your keys. These food keychains will also help you appreciate how creative the Japanese can be.
Some food key chains are imitations of foods such as the Japanese omelet, karashi, or ketchup. They look so realistic, and if you are a visitor to Japan, you might just want to try them out in real life.
Takara Tomy Arts
This is a toy manufacturing company. They have an extensive collection of things that have outstanding quality. For example, they have a series of police-related tools or kitchen appliances. Look out for the miniature series, which innovatively imitates real-life items.
Gachapon machines in this country contain a wide variety of anime characters. Most people love using gachapon because of these animated characters. You can find many characters, including:
- Demon Slayer Nitotan
- Disney Characters such as Disney movies princesses and Mickey Mouse.
- Jujutsu Kaisen
- Sailor moon
Most people use them to decorate their homes or desks in the office.
Japan’s Capsule toy machines also contain cute animal figurines. Some lovely animals like cat figurines and Shiba Inu are adorable to look at. These figurines are particularly popular with animal lovers across the country.
Where to Find Toy Machines
You are likely to find capsule toys in any part of Japan. Some of the best places to look are sightseeing information centers and train stations because they usually have several machines. The machines in those places are generally area-specific. If you visit big cities, go to an electronic and household items chain called Yodobashi Camera, and you will find the machines either inside or outside the stores.
Here are some tips for finding them in two of Japan’s biggest cities.
If you are visiting Osaka, you will find capsule toy machines at a place known as Nipponbashi. It is in the southern part of Osaka City. The area is famous for its numerous shops that sell games, Manga, and anime.
Japan’s capital city has many places with gachapon machines. Tokyo Station and Akihabara are the two places where you can find trinkets. If you want to save time searching for a capsule toy machine, go straight to Akihabara Gachapon Kaikan, a store that only offers capsule toys.
If you are in Tokyo Station, Tokyo Gashapon Street is the place to be. There are about 100 machines on the walk along the street. It is the perfect place to get souvenirs and presents for your loved ones.
How Gashapon Machines Have Inspired Video Games
Capsule toy machines have inspired game developers to create video games with the same concept. Various games have also featured Gashapon, including Mario games like SuperSmash Bros Melee and Mario Party 5.
The gachapon-inspired mobile games are known as gacha games. The main similarity between these games and the actual gachapon is the aspect of winning something randomly. However, the similarities usually end there.
These gacha games are usually free to play and use characters with varying rarity and power. The characters are generally unlockable, but you need to use real money to unlock them, just like with gachapon machines. The games generate significant profits and are currently quite popular in Japan.
A gashapon is a fun activity that anybody can enjoy doing despite their age. Who doesn’t like a little risk with very little loss if things don’t go their way? Getting a toy is fun enough, but not knowing what you will get makes it even more thrilling.
If you visit Japan, check out these capsule toy machines and make the most of them any time you see them.
Frequently Asked Questions about Gachapon:
The term gashapon comes from two sounds: “Gashan” for the hand-cranking action of toy-vending machines and “Pon” to represent the capsule that land in the holder box. The word “Gashapon” has been used to manufacture both the device and the capsule toy.
Typically a gachapon costs around 450 – 800 yen depending on the vending machine and the capsule toys available.
You can find gachapon in Japan in shopping malls, inside shops, or on the street. You can also sometimes find retail stores that wholly specialize in gachapon.