The Gashapon Machine – A Symbol of Whimsy

The Gashapon Machine – A Symbol of Whimsy

Designed by Bandai in the 1970s, gachapon machines are found in most convenience stores and supermarkets. They dispense toys, trinkets, keychains and more that are based on anime, manga, video games and other popular culture.

One item costs anywhere from 100 to 500 yen, but you never know what you will get! Enthusiastic collectors buy gashapon sets, which are cheaper than buying the individual capsules.

Capsule Toys

The machines, which have come to be known as gachapon, are a symbol of Japan’s passion for whimsy and affection for small things. Hundreds of new products are released each month, drawing on current trends and the latest pop culture to draw in customers. A typical toy costs about Y=200 or Y=300, and the surprise of what comes out is a large part of the appeal.

Some of the most popular toys are miniatures of famous places and specialty food items, which make for great souvenirs for visitors from overseas. Others are highly detailed figurines, including ones that stand at less than an inch tall. One company, Kitan Club, has a strict design process to make sure all the little parts are perfectly in place — a nod to a country with a long history of perfectionism.

Other toys include miniature desks and furniture, like the cat penholder pictured above, as well as push-buttons and other small objects. Realistic food samples are a common theme as well. The gachapon machines also often partner with other companies to produce special items, such as tie-ins with restaurants that feature a specific menu item or camping gear. Some manufacturers, such as Takara Tomy Arts, even produce capsule toys for major video games and anime movies. Capsule toys are also becoming increasingly popular abroad, especially in countries with a strong Japanese cultural presence.

Anime Characters

Aside from the usual products a traditional vending machine would offer, gashapon machines often have toys that Gashapon Machine are specific to a certain anime or manga series. This makes them popular among children, but they are also enjoyed by adults. Some even collect them, making them the perfect souvenir from a trip to Japan.

Known as gachapon in Japanese, this variety of vending machine is unique to Japan. Its name is a combination of two onomatopoeia: “gasha” for the sound of turning the crank and “pon” for the dull thud as a capsule drops into the tray. Since the invention by Ryuzo Shigeta in the 1960s, these machines have gained enormous popularity, especially as each toy is contained within a separate plastic capsule. The machines are usually stacked wall to wall in places such as Akihabara, which has a gashapon street and themed shops selling them.

These machines are a big part of what’s known as the otaku culture in Japan, which refers to people who are obsessed with something. The variety of characters and other sets that can be found on them only adds to their appeal, and this is a large reason why they’re so popular. Their random payouts have also inspired trinket-collection mini-games in many video games, most notably the Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons’ “Gasha Tree” and The Minish Cap’s “Gacha Machine”. The items can range from small charms to plushies to figurines.

Traditional Crafts

While many gachapon machines offer the sort of trinkets you might expect, like key chains and cell phone straps, there are plenty of more unusual items. If you have a large amount of coins to spend, you might find yourself rewarded with a rare figure or an adorable miniature artwork. Some machines even have a ‘Prime Capsule Prize’ that can reward players with a more valuable item. Dedicated collectors often trade amongst themselves to obtain sets, and some of the rarer toys can be very valuable on the secondary market.

The popularity of gashapon continues to grow, with even more characters and figurines being added to the line up every month. The trend is largely due to the low price tags attached to each of the small plastic balls, which provide a chance to get some unique Japanese gifts and souvenirs for friends and family back home.

The popular gachapon stores of Akihabara and Osaka’s Nipponbashi (Den-Den Town) are a great place to browse the latest offerings, and there is also an online shop that has a variety of different types of gachapon available. While some Gashapon Machine of the machines are limited-edition or rare, others are more standard and can be found at any convenience store in Japan. The ‘Stretchy Mochi Manju’ and ‘Squishy Sushi’ machines are particularly popular, with new collections taking the place of older ones each month.


When it comes to Japanese pop culture, there’s no shortage of wacky things. One of the most interesting is the gachapon, a coin-operated machine that dispenses small capsule toys and figurines. These brightly-colored machines are everywhere in Japan and they’re a great way to buy cheap souvenirs without spending much cash.

These machines are called gachapon because of their unique combination of features: they look like gumball machines but dispense capsules that contain toys. They also feature a crank, as well as a random selection system. Depending on the theme of the machine, it can be hard to know what’s inside until you insert a coin and crank.

The most popular gachapon items are characters from popular anime and manga series, but they also include items that are designed based on traditional Japanese culture and food. These machines are not only a fun way to spend money, but they’re also a great source of nostalgia for many people.

If you’re interested in trying out gachapon, be sure to visit Tokyo Station’s so-called “Tokyo Gashapon Street.” This area features row upon row of these machines that are filled with all sorts of themed goods. From food key chains to police-related tools, there’s bound to be something that catches your interest. Britney Budiman is a writer, minimalist, and aspiring effective altruist. She’s previously worked in Cambodia at a traditional arts NGO and in Brazil as a social sciences researcher, and she currently teaches English to high school students in Kagoshima, Japan.