Written by Jasmine O
Gachapon - A Guide To Japan's Capsule Toys And Where To Buy Them
Gachapon are capsule toys of all varieties found in Japan. Read to learn what unique toys you can get, where to find them, and how to use gachapon machines. From keychains to miniature furniture, gachapon make great souvenirs and invite all to an entertaining world of fantasy.
Gachapon - Japan's Entertaining Capsule Toys
Found in nearly every corner of Japan, gachapon, or gashapon, are machines selling capsule toys and other small items for a few hundred yen. With toys and trinkets ranging from keychains to figurines and pouches of all different varieties, gachapon is a unique aspect of Japan and an addictive form of entertainment.
Continue reading to learn about what you can get from gachapon machines, how to use them, and where some of the best places are to find them.
All About Gachapon and Capsule Toys
Gachapon became popular Japan around the 1970s, first introduced from the United States. The machines initially carried only children's toys, but the selection expanded to include figures and other goods suitable for adults. As a result, gachapon machines today are found in nearly every corner of Japan and are popular with all ages. Capsule machines sell a wide range of merchandise, from useful items to purely humorous goods.
Below are some examples of some items you can find at gachapon machines, ranging in price from 200 yen to 400 yen. The selection depends on the machine, time of year, and location of the machine. This scarcity and uncertainty is part of the fun of gachapon.
1. Animal Figurines
Figurines of all animal varieties can be found at capsule toy machines in Japan. The shiba inu and cat figurines pictured above are particularly adorable. Use them to decorate your desk at work or add an adorable touch to your home.
2. Food Keychains
Small food-related goods are very charming. Pictured above are miniature keychain versions of ketchup, karashi (Japanese mustard), and a Japanese omelet. They look almost good enough to eat, don't they?
Bread of all varieties, including baguettes and melon pan. The baguette above comes in its packaging, replicating version one would find at a grocery store.
3. Miniature Furniture
Similar to the realistic food items above, miniature furniture of all types, from desks to lamps (pictured above) can be gotten in capsule toy machines. The lamp above comes with three poles, allowing you to adjust the height of the lamp. A simple switch turns on the light.
Pouches and small bags are also sold. The pouch above is made in the shape and size of soymilk. You can store your soymilk in it, of course, but it also makes a roomy pencil case.
How to Use Gachapon Machines
Gachapon machines are simple to use but may require some initial guidance if you don't read Japanese.
First, it is recommended to survey the machines in the area to decide which toy you are interested in getting. Each machine will have pictures of what is inside. There is no guarantee you will get your top pick, but half of the thrill of gachapon is not knowing.
After choosing the machine you want, insert the correct number of coins in the coin slot displayed on the front of the machine. Prices range from 200 yen to up to 400 or 500 yen depending on the merchandise inside. Most machines only take 100-yen coins, so make sure you have appropriate change. If you are in an arcade or area with lots of machines, there may be a change maker close.
After inserting the coins, simply turn the handle to the direction displayed on the machine. Just turn it a few times until the capsule toy falls down. Reach in and grab your toy.
Toys come in this round, plastic case. Remove any tape and open the case to reveal the toy inside!
A basket for disposing cases is often placed on top of the machines, so be sure to look for it. If there is none, take the case with you and throw it out in the appropriate garbage, or reuse it.
Where to Find Capsule Toys in Japan
Gachapon can be found essentially everywhere in Japan, with the selection and availability ranging by location.
Tokyo has numerous areas with capsule toy machines. Two spots where trinkets can be found are in Akihabara and Tokyo Station. Akihabara is well-known for its anime, manga, and electronics, and has numerous gachapon machines. You can find machines scattered around just walking around, but check in front game arcades. If you are serious about searching, head to Akihabara Gachapon Kaikan, a store specializing in capsule toys. You will find a room filled wall-to-wall with gachapon machines.
Tokyo Station, a major transportation hub with shopping, has TOKYO GASHAPON STREET on the first basement level. Around 100 machines line the walkway. Visitors can find many small items ideal for gifts and souvenirs while they explore this area.
Visitors in Osaka are recommended to head to Nipponbashi, an area southern Osaka city, similar to Akihabara. The neighborhood is known for its shops catering to visitors with interests in anime, manga, and games. Numerous capsule toy machines can be found here, too.
You can also find capsule toys when you go traveling to essentially any area in Japan. If you are in a large city, check in front of and inside Yodobashi Camera, an electronics and homeware goods chain. Train stations and sightseeing information centers also often have a few machines where you can find fun, region-specific items. These make particularly thoughtful souvenirs for family and friends.
Gachapon - For the Young at Heart!
Capsule toys are an aspect of Japan that can be enjoyed by all. From famous characters and mascots to bizarre themes like condiments, gachapon are full of mystery and fun, making for great souvenirs and memories.