Remember that excited feeling when you were given a few quarters as a child and could pick a toy, sticker, or temporary tattoo from the vending machine outside the grocery store? There was nothing better than the exciting feeling of popping open the capsule and seeing what was inside!
Japan has taken it a step further with their vending machines called gachapon, also known as gashapon. These vending machines don’t offer little bouncy balls that you’ll lose after a few throws. Instead, you’re rewarded with high-quality toys that you’ll want to keep for as long as possible!
Let’s dive into these exciting Japanese vending machines further.
What Are Gachapon?
Gachapon are higher-end vending machines that seem to have something for all interests. Do you love manga? Or, maybe you have an affinity for a certain anime. They'll likely have a Japanese vending machine that correlates with your favorite characters!
Like vending machines in other countries, these fun machines are coin-operated. Add in a few yen, and you’ll have your brand-new toy in hand.
The intended audience is one major difference between American toy vending machines and gachapon. Most toy machines in America are meant for kids. Gachapon toys are ageless. You can enjoy them as a child, teen, young adult, and adult. Gachapon have a much broader customer base.
Where Can You Find Them? How Much Do They Cost?
Now that you’re geared up to check out a gachapon, you’re likely wondering where these magical vending machines are. Luckily, these machines seem to be nearly everywhere in Japan, so you won’t need to hunt for too long for your chance at a gashapon.
You’ll find these toy machines in grocery stores and outside. Any store related to gaming, manga, anime, toys, etc., also typically has gashapon that you can use. They’re also in restaurants as an exciting treat before or after mealtime.
If you’re a big gachapon lover, you’ll find options for a metropolis full of these toy machines. You can explore row after row of machines in these giant gashapon meccas.
Surprisingly, these machines are pretty affordable, even with higher-quality products. The toys range in price from 100-500 yen, about $0.80-$4.00.
What Types Of Items Can You Find In A Gachapon?
The category of items that come out of gachapon is quite varied. Some machines offer keychains, while others send out figurines, plush toys, small cellphone accessories, mini-games, a lego set, Mario starter course, or quirky towels.
Another common category of gachapon includes real-life household miniatures like shopping carts and chairs. Not knowing what you will receive is a big part of the fun of these toy machines!
Can’t Get To A Gachapon?
We get it; we wish we were nearby a gachapon too! Don't fret; we've got similar items that you can enjoy at home. Here are our picks for gachapon-like toys.
Alpha Mini Yoshi Plush
This Yoshi plush is exactly like a toy you’d receive in a Japanese vending machine! It’s adorable, squishy, and will look perfect on your display shelf with other Mario toys. The Alpha Mini Yoshi Plush is also great as a gift for friends or children.
Alpha Mini Kirby Plush
Here's a soft Kirby plush that you can carry around with you. The Alpha Mini Kirby Plush is the perfect size to add to a backpack or display on your desk.
Brai Enterprise Super Mario Japanese Tea Cup
While you’re more likely to receive a miniature tea cup from a gashapon, it doesn’t make this mug any less special! The Brai Enterprise Super Mario Japanese Tea Cup offers a cute way to help you wind down from the day. If you love Mario items as much as we do, you’ll love sipping tea from this mug.
Tokiwa Shoji Super Mario Piranha Plant Game
Can’t get enough of Super Mario toys? This Tokiwa Shoji Super Mario Piranha Plant Game is fun for the whole family. Though, you can also recruit your friends for a game night in! You get to pick from popular characters like Luigi and traverse the board to collect as many coins as possible.
Tokiwa Shoji Super Mario Air Hockey
Let your inner child out with this Tokiwa Shoji Super Mario Air Hockey game! You can use it on any surface for a competitive air hockey game. This option is slightly larger than what you'd find in a gashapon but equally as fun!
Looking for snacks to enjoy while your new plush toys are on the way? Bokksu Market has a wide selection of sweet and savory snacks to transport you to Japan. You'll even find household items, though they won't be miniatures!
By Krystina Quintana
Japan has so many amazing gachapon! These were our favorite Pokémon items.