Capsule toys in Japan are great for unique, fun and cheap souvenirs to bring back. In Japanese, these capsule machines are called gachapon (ガチャポン). You can get capsule toys of all varieties here in the Land of the Rising Sun!
At the normal end of the spectrum, you’ll be able to get keychains, cartoon figurines and magnets from these capsule toy machines. We’re not here to talk about that. We’re looking at the other end of the spectrum. The not-so-normal one. Some would say they’re even weird!
Because there are so many types of gachapon, I’m pretty sure you’ll be able to find weirder ones on a random street in Japan. But for now, here’s a list of the top 7 commonly weird gachapon toys you can find in Japan!
1. Fuchico on the Cup
The first one is Fuchico on the Cup! This iconic gachapon series started in 2012. It’s not your usual keychain or fridge magnet. This one can interact with your day-to-day life…by sitting at the edge of your cup.
A manga artist called Katsuki Tanaka designed this tiny office lady character after noticing lots of food pictures on social media. To him, those pictures were boring, and wanted to make it more interesting. And so, Fuchico was born, to sit at the edge of cups!
Those who weren’t into gachapon became into it after this release. To this day, this gachapon series has sold millions! She comes in various designs, and some people even collect them!
2. Fake food
Who doesn’t like food? Well, put it on a keychain and people go crazy! Of course, they’re not real. They’re fake food! Fake food gachapon is extremely popular. You can get anything from fake sushi and fake ramen to fake croissants and fake cakes.
They’re 100% fake, but they look so real that you might think it is!
Recently as well, fake fruits and desserts are getting so popular. But they all fall under the same category of fake food. This type of gachapon can range from as low as 100yen to 300yen! Sometimes, you would have to try a few times in a machine to get the one you want, so make sure you have enough coins on you!
3. Bottle panties
I have to say this is the weirdest one yet, but hey, weird things become a hit. Just like how vending machines sell disposable panties, gachapons have panties too, but for your bottle!
Now, here me out. No dirty thinking. It’s just an accessory you can put at the bottom of your water bottle. It’s like a coaster substitute since they’re super absorbent. These bottle panties come in a variety of colours and patterns, so you can go on a hunt to collect them all. Dress up all your bottles!
4. Themed Animals
Animals are the cutest, aren’t they? You can easily find animal keychains in gachapons, but what we’re talking about here are themed animals! You can get pugs handing off the edge of your glass or bowl, or cats sleeping in a bookshelf. Think of any random situation and you might just get an animal gachapon in that theme.
One common collective is office working animals. Yep, you read that right. Animals are holding props like reading the newspaper, working on their laptop and drinking morning coffee. Some people collect these office-working animals and set up a mini office!
5. Mini games
My personal favourite weird but fun gachapon item is mini games! You can find a lot of games in miniature size! That crocodile teeth game? I have a few colours of them at home. Remember that game where you have to stick knives in a barrel and a pirate will pop out? Yup, they have those too.
These miniature games are so handy and convenient when you’re travelling. When you have time to spare waiting for your flight or train, you can whip this out and play with your friends and family.
6. Miniature furniture
Speaking of miniature, one of the most intriguing gachapons I’ve ever seen is miniature furniture! You can find any piece of furniture in mini size! From tables and chairs to lamps and teapots!
I heard that people collect these pieces to create a miniature home. It’s like building your dream home but in miniature form. Think of it as Lego for adults…I mean, kids can do it too!
Last but not least of weird gachapons is mannequins. One of the newest gachapon creations is by Tokyo-based capsule toy maker So-Ta. Mannequins of various poses are sold in small capsules called “Nude”. There are six poses altogether. With each one of them, you can freely change the poses as the mannequin is made up of multiple ball joints.
There are three colours available: black, white and “stripe” where it’s mainly white with blue accents outlined in red .
While it might be a weird idea in the first place, it can be used for artists who need a physical representation of a human pose, but can’t afford to purchase the big ones.
Which weird gachapon do you want to buy?
I have to admit, all of these seven weird gachapons caught my attention. So they did their job well! When playing around with gachapons, don’t limit yourself to the normal and boring. Go out of your comfort zone and find fun and quirky ones like these!
There’s nowhere like Japan for toys and collectables. This country has everything from your favourite cartoon character figurines to silly knick-knacks. If you’re wondering where the best and cheapest place to get them at is, the answer is: gachapon.
These capsule machines are popular nationwide. Now, its fame has spread overseas. People are intrigued by this idea of machines with cute toys in them, and only for pennies! Anime lovers and Japanophiles, you’re going to want to stick around. Everything you need to know about Japan’s one-of-a-kind capsule toys is just a scroll away!
What is gachapon?
So, what exactly is it? In short, gachapon is a coin-operated machine that dispenses a toy when a coin enters the machine. This word can also refer to the capsule toys themselves. The term actually comes from the sound that the dispenser makes when cranking the knob of the machine (“gasha”). Combine that with the sound of the thud when the capsule toy dispenses (“pon”). Gachapon is also sometimes known as gachapon. “Gasha” and “gacha” are both onomatopoeiae of the sound.
These capsule toys are usually ¥100 to ¥500. They’re not expensive at all! The catch is that you don’t get to choose what you get. It’s a surprise. You’ll be able to see a range of what each machine offers, though. There would be a picture at the front of the machine. If there are five options, your chances of getting the one you like are roughly 20%.
These toys that are in gachapon machines aren’t just silly toys that you’re going to throw away the next day. For both children and adults, these toys are high-quality and sometimes limited-edition goods. Collectors go crazy for them.
There’s no guarantee that you’re going to get what you want. Because of that, customers keep coming back until they complete their set.
The outlook of gachapons resembles the likes of gumball machines and vending machines in the West. One might assume that that’s where it came from. But that’s all the similarities between them. The gachapon we know and love is all thanks to Ryuzo Shigeta.
Back in the 60s, Shigeta wanted to improve a vending machine he got from the United States. He decided to put each item in a plastic container and tested it out. It was a huge hit! And the rest is history. Today, there are almost half a million gachapon in Japan alone, and the numbers are only rising.
Types of gachapon toys
So, what kind of toys can you get from gachapon? I hate to break it to you, but the question should be, “what toys can’t we get?” You can quite literally get anything from one of these machines. The most common types of toys you’d find in gachapon machines are small figurines of anime characters and Japanese pop culture products. Magnets and keychains are really common, too. There are others that offer miniature versions of games like Crocodile Teeth (I have one myself).
Don’t be surprised if you find a gachapon that gives you underwear or something similarly weird. I’ve seen a couple that’s covered with black paper and has the red “over 18 only” sign. I didn’t bother finding out what that was… You will also be able to find machines that offer miniature versions of everyday items like furniture and condiments. You can build your own miniature house! These machines offer limited run products and the stock changes quite frequently. Customers are always back to see what new things they can add to their collection. Honestly, listing out every single gachapon toy is impossible. There’s always something new brewing. I have no doubt a new type of gachapon machine is in the works as we speak.
Where to find gachapon?
So where can you find these gachapons? You don’t really have to look for long to find one. Most of the time, you can find gachapons outside stores on random streets throughout the whole country. If you’re not in the mood to stroll around, arcades definitely have them. Stores that sell manga, anime, games and electronics would have them nearby as well.
If you’re really in pursuit of them, Japan’s capital city Tokyo is the best place to start. It’s basically the mecca of gachapons with rows and rows of those machines. Tokyo Station has Tokyo Gachapon Street, where there are more than 50 unique gachapon machines lined up. Here, there’s everything from anime and manga character figurines to random trinkets.
Akiharabara is another gachapon heaven. This neighbourhood is famous for its abundant anime and manga shops. Little do people know it’s also one of the best spots for gachapon. At Akiharabara Gachapon Kaikan, there are over 500 gachapon machines for your choosing. Every month, the stocks and designs change. This is the place that has the biggest variety of gachapon toys!
You could also pop by Akihabara Radio Kaikan. On the fifth floor, there’s a shop of one of the most well-known companies for anime figurines. Called Kaiyodo, it has over 60 capsule toy machines and have quite the range of toys. Look out for collaboration items that you can only get here!
Osaka’s go-to spot for gachapon is in the Nipponbashi area. In and amongst the other shopping attractions, you’ll find dozens of gachapon machines of the most popular types out there.
Long story short, gachapon machines are everywhere. You won’t leave Japan without coming across a few rows at least once a day for your entire trip.
Gachapon has quite the significance in Japanese culture. Getting capsule toys from these machines are not only a unique experience but they make great souvenirs. They’re cheap, high-quality and one-of-a-kind. Whether you’re an anime lover or just interested interested in all things Japan, be sure to include gachapon on your Japan to-do list!
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