What is a Gachapon?
A gachapon (ガシャポン) is a type of capsule toy, originating from the 1960s. They have become a mainstay in Japan’s popular and consumer culture, with children, teens and adults all using them. People don’t just love them for their novelty but for the fact that many of the toys, figures and other items included inside, are not sold anywhere else.
Gasaphon Department Store
The Gashapon Department Store is where you will find one of the biggest collections of gachapon machines in all of Tokyo. With there being over 3,000 machines to choose from, you are certain to find the perfect one for you.
There are a few branches across Japan, however on this day, we decided to visit the one in Ikebukuro’s Sunshine City shopping mall. One of the coolest things about this mini ‘department store’ is that it has a ‘Gasha shooting spot’ where you can take a quick snap of the various figures. It is worth mentioning that if you download the Namco app, you can use it to collect points and get coupons that can be used to win exclusive gifts.
Before you start to walk to see which gachapon machines take your fancy, it is best to have a little look at the display cabinets. Here, they display some of the most popular items of the month as well as special seasonal items. When we visited, they were displaying Autumn season goods as well as exclusive gashapon goods based on the famous radio show ‘All Night Nippon’.
Our Gachapon Recommendations!
With an overwhelming amount of gachapon machines to choose from, it can be hard to know which ones you should spend your coins at. Here are just some of our favorite ones we came across:
Many people in Japan love small-scale replicas of things such as Japanese food and the craftsmanship that comes with it. That’s why you will find a large selection of gachapon which have miniature versions of popular foods inside.
Ichiran is one of Japan’s most popular ramen chains and is loved by tourists. No matter which branch in Tokyo you visit, there is always guaranteed to be a line of dedicated Ichiran fans eagerly waiting. With this gachapon, you can create your own miniature version of the Ichiran shop. There are four different things to win including the famous solo dining booth and the show-stopping tonkatsu ramen.
We love this cup miso keyring, not only for its intricate design but its novelty. For just ¥300, you can experience making the smallest cup of miso soup – all you need to do is put all the packs together and ‘mix’ them in the cup. We think this would make a great souvenir for any Japan enthusiast.
We also love this ‘tonight’s snack’ collection which includes keyrings of popular Japanese snacks such as American corn dogs and edamame. The best part is that each one comes with its own plastic container and bag, making it feel as though you have a mini takeaway!
These are just some of the amazing miniature food gachapon you can find. There are so many more scattered around including miniature versions of waffles, pizza, and bread. Notably, the majority of these food related gachapon come in the form of a keyring, however there are some, such as the Ichiran one, which come in the form of a miniature model so make sure to double check each one before using!
Not all gachapon include random figures, some include more practical items which can actually be used rather than just displayed.
A popular cosmetic brand in Japan, Whomee is known for its beautiful and aesthetically-pleasing packaging and high-quality products. This gachapon sells miniature keyring versions of two of the eyeshadow shades and lip glosses as well as the oil essence for ¥400. Super adorable and practical as you can easily attach them to your bag, this gachapon is ideal for those wanting to try something from the brand without paying full price for a full-sized product.
For something more practical and that you are guaranteed to get some good use out of, we would suggest picking one of the many machines which have reusable shopping bags as the prize. Costing ¥500 each, these shopping bags are rather unique given that their designs are inspired by different famous sweet and drinks brands including Lipton tea and Meiji chocolates.
There is a whole selection of gachapon which include mini versions of classic games such as whack a mole. These are great to have as they are compact and can be played on the go. Some of these games are also designed to help improve your memory and increase brain function!
Unsurprisingly, gachapon machines of popular cartoon characters are always the most in demand.
There is a whole section dedicated to Disney themed gachapon. Our personal favourites include the ‘Hide & Seek’ Hidden Alice in Wonderland figure collection and the Peter Pan one which includes figures which all connect together.
Pokemon gachapon machines are also in abundance. Each one includes a different range of characters, with some even including characters which don’t usually have their own merchandise. Kids in particular seem to navigate towards these ones given that the franchise is so popular.
There are a few Moomin gachapon too, we think this one was the best as it includes simple figures of the main characters and is the perfect collector’s item.
Fans of the world’s most famous beagle, you are in luck! You can get your hands on a few different snoopy gashapon. The majority of these machines include tiny collectable figurines, with our personal favourite being this ¥300 one which includes figures of each of the peanuts gang.
For something seasonal, we suggest trying out this gachapon. This particular machine includes four different autumn-themed Doraemon figures including one of Doraemon holding some grapes and his sister Doremi holding some autumn leaves.
You will also find many Hello Kitty gachapon, ones which include figures as well as other goods like shopping bags and keyrings. We particularly liked this one which has a miniature retro diner light, given that its design was quite unique and that it can actually be used as a mini light!
For K-Pop fans, there are even a few gachapon which include merchandise from some of the most popular groups including BTS and Seventeen.
Anime fans will also find many gashapon filled with merchandise from popular and recently released anime shows. A lot of these include figurines or keyrings but sometimes you will find that some include other interesting goods such as badges and stamps.
There are even some gachapon machines which include items based on shōjo anime which were more popular in the past. For instance, this Ojamajo Doremi and Pretty Cure gashapon include items which have been designed in celebration of their 20th anniversary. These are perfect for those looking for something which feels nostalgic.
This gachapon department store is also filled with many animal themed machines. Many people like to get these and display them on their desks, almost using them as small work mascots.
Mofusand is a group of cat characters which are loved in Japan. There are a few gachapon machines which include these adorable feline friends but our favorite has to be this one of them on a slide. If you are lucky enough to get your hands on all four designs, you can join them altogether!
We also love this random gachapon which gives you a bag and a towel in the shape of a Bichon Frisé dog.
There are so many more random animal gashapon to choose from. Some of them are more comical in nature, like the collection of dogs and cats standing up and crossing their arms. If you are wanting to bring home a souvenir which will make someone laugh, then these are by far the best choice.
To keep up-to-date with all the latest and limited-edition gachapon coming to the gashapon department store, click here.