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Characters

Capsule Toy Machines

whysojapan gashapon Capsule toy machines

Capsule toy machines

Capsule toys machines are a big industry in Japan with it being a hobby to collect from the machines. The machines are often known as gashapon (ガシャポン). Bandi and Tomy are the dominating companies in this industry in Japan.

The machines

The machines are similarly to what can be found outside shops in the rest of the world. You place between 100 to 500 yen into the machine and crank the handle, which then releases a random capsule thats falls down into the hatch. What differences from the those in the rest of the world and the machines that can be found in Japan is that the quality of the products is of a higher strandard. While in the rest of the world you might find one or two machines in or outside a store – in Japan you find wall to wall of the machines.

One of the places you can find lots (and I mean lots!) of these machines is in the store Yodobashi Camera in Akihabara in Tokyo. There must be at least 100 machines with lots of different content to choose from. The machines are like a lucky dip prices, you can never be sure you will get just the one you wanted.

whysojapan Capsule toy machines gashapon

So what can be found

There is a real mixture of toys that can be bought from the machines. You can find almost all of the popular characters that are available in Japan, like cute and kawaii characters like Rilakkuma, Mameshiba, Hello Kitty and well known characters from anime and manga. Almost all of the toys are released as sets and normally have some sort of number on them so you know what you have what is still needed to get. Other things you can find are key chains with mini cameras, animals, food and more. Its really an endless choice to choose from and I can see how it turns into a hobby in collecting the capsule toys, as they get updated with new toys all the time. It seems the machines are very popular with all ages in Japan, you can always find a mixture of people of all ages going from machine to machine to decide what to buy next.

We have seen shops selling what you can find in a capsule toy machine, so if you only need one more toy to complete the set, then you can buy it from there, since you know what you get. They’re sold to a higher price.

We always find it fun to buy one or two small capsule toys while we are there, since there’s so much to always choose from. Here are a few of the things we’ve gotten: a camera, a Rilakkuma macaroon and a leafy sea dragon.

whysojapan_capsule_toys

Have you used the capsule toy machines in Japan? What did you get?





Posted on by Paul in Characters, Gadgets, Shopping 1 Comment

Mameshiba Love Winter book review

whysojapan mameshiba love winter book

Mameshiba Love Winter

The second book to be released by Viz media featuring the Mameshibas was Mameshiba Love Winter. The book was first released in November of 2011, which at the time made it the perfect Christmas present for me to give to a loved one. The book was bought from the UK, from Amazon if I remember correctly. I’ve noticed that Amazon still have it for sale. Follow this link for more info (amazon.co.uk). When I bought the book it wasn’t very expensive at all, and with buying it from the UK and Amazon, it was fast delivered and in time to be given away as a present on Christmas day that year.

whysojapan mameshiba love winter book whysojapan mameshiba love winter book

Mameshiba Love Winter is a hardback book that consists of around 12 pages or so. This book is very different from the first book. The first book was more about getting to know the Mameshibas. On the very first page of the book is an envelope that says to be very special. Inside the envelope your find some cardboard cutouts on your favourite Mameshibas, and a selection of winter themed stickers. Now you might wonder what all of they are for. Well, if you go to the last page of the book, a winter castle will pop out of the book, allowing you to place them around the castle and cover them with stickers.

whysojapan mameshiba love winter bookThe story to this book is all about the Mameshibas’ day, playing out in the snow, and while some of the Mameshibas are playing around in the snow with their sledges and snow balls, the others decide that they need to make a castle, but not any sort of castle – a snow castle. Through this short story you get see them design and build their castle to the end, where the castle becomes a popup book. That’s where the story ends and your own imagination begins.

The book is a another great way of getting children that might not be aware of Mameshiba into them. The book has nice pictures and even if its a bit short, it is still fun to read and even if you dont use the castle at the end of the book, it still makes it a great addition to your Mameshiba collection.

Feel free to read our other posts on Mameshiba via the links below:
http://www.whysojapan.com/japanese-characters-mameshiba/
http://www.whysojapan.com/meet-mameshiba-book/





Posted on by Paul in Characters, Shopping Leave a comment

Meet Mameshiba! Book review

whysojapan meet mameshiba book

Mameshiba

If you haven’t heard about the Japanese character Mameshiba, read the previous post that we have published all about them: Japanese characters: Mameshiba

Meet Mameshiba!

Meet Mameshiba! is the first book from Viz Media. Viz Media is one of the largest distributors and licensors of anime and manga in North America and has now taken on Mameshiba to bring it to the world. The books are published in English, which is great for us that love Mameshiba but don’t understand Japanese. The first book was first available to buy from the 5th of July 2011.

The first book Meet Mameshiba! is exactly what its called – a book all about each character. Some of the mameshibas you get to meet are Edamame, Tiger Bean, Soybean, Chili Bean and other of their friends.

The book guides you through the world of Mameshibas, giving you loads of small facts about them. The book includes some of the Mameshiba saying, small quizzes, how to draw your own Mameshiba, true and false pages, small comics, and even a page that helps you learn some basic words in Japanese, and more.

whysojapan meet mameshiba book whysojapan meet mameshiba book

The book consist of 96 pages and the book comes in a paper back version and has a square shape to it. The book is very colourful. It is very light on text, there are mostly pictures, which makes its a great book for kids that you want to introduce to the world of Mameshibas. Its also a great collectors item.

We bought our book from amazon.co.uk but the book is available from many online shops all over the world. The book costs around £5 when we got it on the release date.

More reviews are to come in later posts, of the other Mameshiba books that have been made available in English. Stay tuned!

whysojapan meet mameshiba book whysojapan meet mameshiba book

Link to the book on amazon.co.uk:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Meet-Mameshiba-Carrie-Shepherd/dp/1421539721/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1371836238&sr=1-4&keywords=mameshiba

 

 

 





Posted on by Paul in Characters, Shopping 1 Comment

Gundam Robot in real life

Gundam robot odaiba why so japan

Gundam Robot

We found the Gundam Robot when we were out shopping on the Odaiba island. It was situated behind Tokyo DiverCity, which is one of the many shopping malls you will find on this island. It was a surprise to us to see this massive robot standing there. Is huge!

It was pure luck really that we decided to go out the back of the shopping mall and there it was standing in its scale of 1:1. This seems to the thing with Tokyo and Japan – you can plan everthing you want to see and do, but soon as you take a detour you find the most unexpected thing, like a robot in its full size. Its well worth to take a quick look around the back of DiverCity shopping mall if you are visiting the island.

Gundam Front Tokyo exhibition

The Gundam robot is part of an exhibition that is all about Gundam, a popular anime series. The exhibition is called Gundam Front Tokyo and its just next to the robot. It does cost to go in and you can find the current prices if you click the link at the end of this post. To see the robot only is free, its the exhibition part that has an entry fee.

Gundam TV series

Gundam is part of the popular amime scene where this TV series has become popular. Its franchise is vast and with the giant Gundam robot and the exhibition Im sure its going to become bigger. Even if youre not an amime or Gundam robot fan its still worth a visit.

How to get there

There are a few different transport ways to get out on to the Odaiba island. The public transport stop which is closest to the Tokyo DiverCity shopping mall is the Tokyo Teleport underground station. Its a few minutes walk from the underground station.

In up and coming posts we will talk more about shopping and entertainment centres that you can visit on the Odaiba island.

Heres the link to the site for Gundam front Tokyo:
http://gundamfront-tokyo.com/en/

Here is also a short video that I shot while we were there:





Posted on by Paul in Characters, Visiting Leave a comment

Japanese Characters: Mameshiba

Mameshiba why so japan
Mameshiba is a merchandise franchise that you can find in Japan and also to the lesser amount in the rest of the world. I would say that Mameshiba is one the more well known characters in Japan. A mameshiba is a kind of bean dog character. The little bean has a face similar to a dog. Mame means bean in Japanese and shiba is a well known breed of dog in Japan. And the phrase mame shiba refers to a toy or puppy Shiba Inu.

Mameshiba 2 why so japanWhat is even more special with Mameshiba is that he or she always has a little fact to tell you, something that you probably didnt know.

Mameshiba first became popular via interstitial program that where broadcast on TV over Japan instead of adverts. Each advert would run for about 30 seconds or so and would be animated and would always have an interesting fact to share with its audience.

That advert also become very popular on YouTube with most of them being subtitled into English. After Mameshiba became so popular more and more products were being produced in Japan and being sold as small plush toys in the US via the store Hot Topic. I think that’s where I bought my first one.

In Japan there are lots of products that have been made in connection with the Mameshiba franchise. Lots of plushies in every size possible. I’ve also seen key rings, chopsticks, books, stationary and more. To date four books have been made by Viz Media that are produced in English. In a later post I will show you them and give a brief review about each one.

Mameshiba 3 why so japan Mameshiba 4 why so japan
There have also been what I guess you could say are spin offs of Mameshiba. You have Baby-Shiba which is a series of the baby shiba, Babyshiba Fruits and Kyary Pamyu Pamyu also has her own Mameshiba characters, the main one is being called Mameshipamyupamyus and both have appeared in TV adverts together.

Mameshiba 5 why so japan
One of the most popular Mameshiba is called Edamame. He is the green bean dog and his interesting fact is that “the inside of a kangaroo pouch is supposedly really stinky”.  That I bet you didnt know, but you know now.

I would say that Mameshiba is definitely one of my most favourite Japanese character that I always return home with.

Whats yours?





Posted on by Paul in Characters 2 Comments