Gachapon:All about evolving capsule toys in Japan

A lot of people who visit Japan probably don’t want to miss a chance to get many souvenirs. If you are one of them, Japanese capsule toys are highly recommended. Capsule toys were first imported from the US in 1965. Now in Japan, the market size of capsule toys is said to be over 72 billion yen, with the 5th boom under way. We introduce evolving capsule toys in Japan.

About capsule toys

Capsule toys are sold in a small vending machine, where you put in a coin, turn the handle, and get one capsule with a toy rolling out from the machine. You won’t know what you will get until you open the capsule. Capsule toy vending machines are installed at various places, such as supermarkets, game arcades, drug stores, and family restaurants. Recently, you can even find them on street sides in busy shopping districts, and at airports and souvenir shops.

Capsule toys are popular because the prices are affordable and you can enjoy the excitement of not knowing what you will get. Some people say that once you start collecting capsule toys you won’t stop collecting until you get all of the series. In Japan, there is a culture of the miniature world, such as bonsai and diorama. The elaborate skill that has been nurtured by such culture may be the reason it has gained popularity all over the world.

Capsule Toy Store “Gashapon Department Store Ikebukuro Sohonten”

Currently, there are reportedly more than 280 capsule toy stores all over Japan. Among all others, “Gashapon Department Store Ikebukuro Sohonten” is the biggest one in the world, with more than 3,000 capsule toy machines. There are so many of them that you may be unable to decide which ones to try. Access: 3 min walk from Higashi-ikebukuro Sta. (Tokyo Metro Yurakucho Line)

Interesting capsule toys

Here are some unique capsule toys I found at “Gashapon Department Store Ikebukuro Sohonten.”

・Kaettekita! Niku Ring Returns!!!

Japan’s replica food samples, which are popular not only in Japan but also in other countries, have been made into this funny series of capsule toys called “niku ring” (“meat rings”). They will make a great souvenir from Japan! 200 yen per purchase

・Nihon no Kokeshi Netsuke No.3


“Kokeshi” is a traditional wooden doll made in the Tohoku region of Japan. This size of kokeshi for a strap makes it affordable and won’t be too bulky even if you buy a lot! Carrying it around will remind you of your trip to Japan. 300 yen per purchase

Flat Gashapon

This Flat Gashapon overturns the image of capsule toys. You can get items of up to A4 in size and 1 cm in thickness, including posters and clear files of anime and game series. 300 yen and up per purchase

Premium Gashapon

You can usually purchase capsule toys for 200 to 400 yen per capsule, but this “Premium Gashapon” series offers items for 600 to 1,500 yen each and it requires 500-yen coin(s) to purchase. With this series, you can get higher-quality figures than regular Gashapons, and the items are often limited versions and in limited supply, so may not be readily available. 600 yen and up per purchase


Capsule toys that you see here and there throughout the city can be said to be one of Japan’s cultures. You may even be able to discover various aspects of Japan, from traditional things to recent trends, through capsule toys. “Gashapon Department Store Ikebukuro Sohonten,” which has free admission, replaces some of the capsule toy machines daily, so you can feel the excitement of encountering something new no matter how many times you have been there. If you want to use up your spare Japanese change, you can do that while enjoying capsule toys everywhere at capsule toy stores, on the street, and at the airport before going back to your home country.

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The information herein is as of July 2023
att.JAPAN consists of members in their 20s and 30s, and we are all travel lovers. In addition to information about sightseeing and great dishes all over Japan, we offer a wide range of information about various subjects/topics, such as onsen (hot spring) and ryokan hotels. We introduce lots of information only att.JAPAN can offer, including information about famous sightseeing spots, the latest news about new facilities all over Japan and rare less-known areas in Tokyo, one-day model walking courses, and anime pilgrimages. We also offer contents to introduce Japan from the view of writers from abroad.

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