All About Japan

360-Degree 'Gachapon' Adventure in Akihabara

Video Toys Otaku Tokyo Akihabara

John Daub from Only in Japan heads out to Akihabara Gachapon Kaikan (秋葉原ガチャポン会館) for a 360-degree gachapon experience.

Gachapon (or gashapon) are coin-operated toy dispensers usually ranging in price from ¥100 to ¥500 depending on where you go and what you want to buy. Rather than the chintzy throwaways you might expect, the contents of these plastic capsules are relatively high-quality, limited-edition goods ranging from anime characters to eerily accurate fake food products. The name is derived from Japanese onomatopoeia, with gacha referring to the sound of the machine being cranked, and pon being the clunk of the capsule coming down.

In addition to maid cafés and anime shops, Akihabara is home to a remarkable host of gachapon machines. Among them, the Gachapon Kaikan in particular offers hundreds of machines loaded with different items old and new, all stacked four levels high—as well as glass cases full of gachapon toys on sale from collectors.

John and crew end up investigating an eclectic variety of machines, getting swag ranging from characters from The Meloncholoy of Haruhi Suzumiya to a yakitori stick and a cat in a tissue box. Just don't get dizzy spinning the viewpoint to follow the action!

If you'd like to know more, you can read on about gachapon—including where to find machines—below!