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