Translated by Dan
Who Knows What You'll Get? Akihabara's Gatchapon Alley!
Written by Makiko Fukushima
Capsule toys dispensed from a machine - you can find tiny anime characters, little replicas of famous places and even working light bulbs!
Capsule toys or 'Gachapon' in Japanese, are small detailed toys that come in palm-sized plastic capsules from machines. Depending on the age, region and manufacturer they have different names but are generally known to have been an American invention that took off in Japan.
The toys found inside each gatcha machine vary in style, quality and price. Some are rather cheap and simple, while others are on par with figurines sold in stores. In Akihabara there are many places that have a few of these machines standing outside, but in Akihabara Gatchapon Kaikan, you will find nothing but these machines. In fact, you will find it hard to see a spot in the shop that doesn't have a machine in it.
Look for the big yellow sign.
So many Gatchapons!
When you enter the store, you will see stacks of gatcha machines rising up the walls.
I've never seen so many before in my life!
The classic of the classic, a Gatchapon which you can get an anime figure of Ayanami and Aska from "Evangelion." Gatchapon from fan favorites are a common sight.
Underwear for a smartphone: "Smart Panties." It is actually part of a really popular series, and in this latest edition there is a hole in the bottom so that you can charge your phone without removing its bottoms. How useful!
Play to your Heart's Content
Every day, a lot of people gather here in Akihabara Gatchapon Kaikan. It's the perfect spot for people who are too embarrassed to play these machines anywhere else.
It's fun to just watch people playing them too.
Perhaps more familiar than these toy machines, you can also get a gumball from this machine for only 20 yen.
Various events are held here from time to time, and if you find a sticker on your capsule, bring it to the staff so that you can collect points.
If you'd like to collect some small, unique toys, try out these gatcha machines! You're sure to get hooked on the thrill of not knowing what you'll get each play.
Akihabara Gachapon Kaikan
Address: Tokyo, Chiyoda, Sotokanda 3-15-5 Gee Store Akiba
Hours: 11:00-20:00 weekdays, 11:00-19:00 weekends; 11:00-22:00 Fri/Sat before holidays
Nearest Station: Suehirochō station (末広町駅) Tokyo Metro Ginza line, JR Akihabara station (秋葉原駅)
Access: 1 minute walk from exit 3 Suehirochō station, 7 minute walk Electric Town exit of Akihabara station
Phone number: 03-5209-6020
Website: Akihabara Gachapon Kaikan