In the United States, many are used to seeing capsule toy machines as cheap toys to keep your kids occupied while visiting a supermarket or restaurant.
In Japan, the concept is similar but the offerings reach out to people of all ages. Known as “Gashapon” which is the sounds of the machines (gasha for the sound of the crank and pon for the sound of the toy capsules dropping into the receptacle), you will find a plethora of them throughout Japan especially in Akihabara in Tokyo or Nipponbashi in Osaka.
Unlike the toy capsule machines found in the US, Gashapon cost anywhere between 100 yen to 500 yen and offer products that are of higher quality and collectible. Made of high-grade PVC plastic, these gashapon fetch high prices in secondhand markets.
As most of what you see sold are part of sets, like most collectables that are blind you can’t see with what you are purchasing, quite often you can see people who get frustrated of getting something they already own. And sometimes, these go directly to online auctions which there are always people willing to buy them.
And as Gashapon are money making businesses in Japan attracting male and female consumers but also consumer of all ages, you will see different types of gashapon offered.
And for me, I have used them several times to find gifts for friends who are into Japanese pop culture such as anime and video games. And it helps that these are inexpensive.
If you are in Japan, give a gashapon vending machine a try!