Gashapon or Gachapon
Japan loves vending machines: you can buy drinks, soup, cigarettes, food, and even toys from them! Toy vending machines in Japan are also known as Gashapon or Gachapon which dispense blind box capsule toys.
What is Gashapon?
Gashapon, also known as gachapon, are vending machines that sell capsule toys and other tiny products for a few hundred yen almost everywhere in Japan. They can be seen lining the Tokyo streets, restaurants, and retail malls. Gashapon toys is a distinctive feature of Japan and a compulsive type of amusement. The most thrilling moment is when you can finally open the capsule and see what's inside after you've put some coins in the machine and started it. Items obtained from capsules inside gashapon machines are extremely well-liked and affordable. It features toys and trinkets such as keychains, figurines, and pouches of various kinds. You'll need to be extremely lucky if there is something specific you are looking for to receive it on your first try.
History of Gashapon
In New York and London, coin-operated vending machines offering postcards and gum were first introduced in the 1880s. However, despite the fact that the vending machine or capsule toy machine initially debuted abroad, it was originally the Japanese who made it known worldwide. The original Gachapon machine was installed in Japan in the 1960s by Ryuzo Shigeta. Shigeta got a vending machine from the United States and set out to improve it. He eventually decided to put each item in a plastic container or capsule. The machines and their capsules were a major success, which contributed to their current level of widespread acclaim. Ryuzo Shigeta became known as "the Grandfather of Gachapon." Later in 1977, there were nearly 360,000 gashapon, and the company Bandai even registered the name as a trademark. The monthly release of new gashapon increases the appeal and originality of the products.
But why is it called gashapon or gachapon? Gachapon, which refers to both the machine and the capsule toys, gained its name from a unique Japanese onomatopoeia, the machine makes as the toys pop out. "Gacha-gacha" is the sound of the machine handle being cracked, and "Pon" is the sound made as the capsule toys comes out of the machine.
What are the Inside of Gashapon Machines?
Pretty much anything! The toys inside range from random to functional to just for fun and everything. However, merchandise with an anime or manga theme is the most popular, like the most favorite licensed characters such as Pokemon, Dragonball Z, Sailormoon, and Sanrio. Many more items are available, like animals acting oddly, such as bowing or acting like office workers, food, insects, dinosaurs, and even little household appliances and electronics are cute options. There is also a culinary theme. They're always changing and guaranteed to blow your mind. The prize you'll get is a surprise based on the machine, the season, and the machine's location, which is one pleasant aspect of gachapon. Just take a look below of some of our favorites ranging from 200 yen to 400 yen and can be found at gachapon machines.
Where to Find Gashapon Machines?
They are just about everywhere in Japan and usually stacked and lined up in rows! Including but not limited to along streets, train stations, arcades, in front of stores and supermarkets. You are bound to run into a gachapon at least once in Japan. The themed toys and figurines inside the gachapon depends on the location it is available.
Here are some of the places in Japan where you can found gachapon machines:
As the capital of Japan and one of the popular tourist spots, Tokyo is home to numerous gachapon machines. You can find them everywhere but you can find them more in Akihabara and Tokyo Station.
Akihabara is known as the anime and manga haven of Tokyo for all anime and manga fans, especially collectors. Many of them loved to collect gashapon that are related to their favorite anime or manga series. With this demand, Akihabara hosts a massive gashapon selection at Akihabara Gachapon Kaikan. It has nearly 500 gachapon machines with a wide variety of gashapon toys or miniature figurines to choose from. This makes them a heaven for all the gashapon lovers. Not only that but every month they always receive a ton of popular and new products for gashapon. You can locate them at 3-15-5, Sotokanda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo and it is a 6-minute walk from Akihabara Station. They are open from 11:00 am - 8:00 pm (Monday - Thursday), 11:00 am - 10:00 pm (Friday, Saturday, Before National Holidays) and 11:00 am - 7:00 pm (Sunday & National Holidays).
Another gashapon machine location in Akihabara to visit is the Akihabara Radio Kaikan. It has nearly 60 gachapon machines to choose from. In this shop, they feature original items and collaborations from famous brands such as the Souvenir Capsule Figure Series which features famous Japanese landmarks in a small plastic version. You can visit them at 1-15-16, Sotokanda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo and it is a 1-minute walk from Akihabara Station. They are open from
10:00 am - 8:00 pm everyday.
Don't forget the famous Tokyo Gashapon Street, which is located at the Tokyo Station. This area features over 50 unique and awesome gachapon machine. If you are looking for an anime and manga design gashapon with main character, then this is the perfect place to go. Their address is 1-9-1, Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, and can be found on the first basement level of Tokyo Station Ichibangai Department Store. They are open from 10:00 am - 8:30 pm everyday.
If you are in Osaka, the most recommended place for you to go is Nipponbanshi. It is an area in southern Osaka City and is known as a place for numerous shops related to anime, manga, and games. It is like the 'Akihabara' of Osaka. You can locate a lot of gachapon machine here, so don't miss them when you go on a trip to Japan.
Other Popular Places in Japan
There are many places in Japan where you can find gachapon machines. You can locate them in other popular places such as Narita and Haneda Airports. There are also available at a home ware goods and electronics shop called Yodobashi Camera. Not only that but you can see them at any train stations and sightseeing information centers. Don't miss any of them since here you can find unique, beautiful and cute region-specific items perfect for your collection or souvenir.
Why Gashapon Machine Popular to Everyone?
Well, why not? It’s a fun way to add some spice of excitement to the day, and it can also become addicting. It is known as toy gambling since you never know which variety you will receive. Many of them are collectibles with loyal fan followings such as collectors. Also, one of the reasons why gashapon machines are popular in Japan is because they are not time-consuming and not expensive to operate. If you have 200-500 yen or 10-40 yuan in your pocket, you are good to go. Operating can be done in less than one minute since all you need to do is to put the coin on the machine and then twist the handle. Doing all of this will produce one gashapon capsule toys with a random item inside.
Opening a gashapon capsule can be thrilling and exciting to do. You didn't even know what was inside of it. If you are a collector of a specific series, there is a big possibility you can get a repeat item. Don't worry, you can still keep the item, sell them or give it to someone special to you. The gashapon machines are mostly targeted at girls and children since they love to have a collection of cute, unique, and funny items or toys. The reason why gashapon machines are located in shops is that they can attract a lot of customers. So if you see a gashapon machine in one of the stores, try also to buy their products so you can help them.
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