All About Japan

Convert Your Pocket Change into Cool Souvenirs

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No matter how big a Japanophile you are, there’s a pretty good chance that you’ll arrive at the airport with more yen coinage in your pocket than you want. With the smallest paper money denomination in Japan being the ¥1,000 (US$8.55), all the change you’ve gradually acquired during your travels could be worth quite a bit, but unfortunately currency exchange counters won’t generally take coins.

But if you can’t convert your yen coins into your home country’s currency, at least you can convert them into cool souvenirs, thanks to this awesome setup at Narita Airport, the major air hub for foreign travelers flying into and out of the Tokyo area.

At Narita Airport, Japanese toymaker Takara Tomy Arts has set up massive banks of capsule toy vending machines, alternatively called gachapon, gacha gacha, or just gacha. The area contains 171 machines, marked by sings announcing “Japanese Capsule Toy Gacha,” and can be found on basement level 1 of Narita’s Terminal 2 building.

The quadrinlingual signs, with explanations in Japanese, English, Chinese and Korean, invite outbound passengers to use their leftover yen coins to enjoy one last quintessentially Japanese experience. Takara Tomy Arts says it stocks the machines with items it thinks will be popular with foreign travelers, and has included instructions on the signs of how to make purchases, for the benefit of gacha-newbies.

Prices for capsule toys vary by item, but the most common point is ¥300, so with 171 machines, you should have no trouble using up all your leftover coins.

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