Have you ever heard of the term “gatcha” or “gachapon?” You may have heard of it at one point or another in anime like Mayuri’s Upa in Steins;Gate, but you probably have no idea what they refer to or how prevalent gachapon are in Japan. Today, we’ll be teaching you exactly what gachapon are and maybe you’ll find yourself keeping an eye out for them on your next trip to Japan (or even an Asian market).
Gachapon is a combination of two onomatopoeic words. “Gacha” is the sound that the crank on the machine makes while “pon” is the sound of the capsule landing in the tray at the bottom. Generally, people refer to capsule toys as gachapon, but gachapon is just a general term used to apply to both the vending machines that dispense them and the capsule toys that come out.
Gachapon machines are plentiful throughout Japan, however you can be sure to see them specifically near any Animate in Japan at the very least. Usually, you have to put in from 100 yen to up to 500 yen in coins in order to get a toy. Once you get a toy, most gachapon machines will have baskets or bins on top or on the side where you can throw away your empty capsules. Each machine will have a specific theme so you have a general idea of what toy you will get in the end, but it’s still random. The themes are indicated on a picture that’s on the face of the gachapon machine. Gachapon machines can be found in popular otaku spots and shops like in Ikebukuro, Akihabara, and Osaka’s DenDen Town. However, you can also find gachapon machines in shopping malls and other spots like even Osaka’s Dotonbori.
Gachapon Toys and Prizes
Gachapon toys and prizes will vary from cute things to otaku related objects. Like we stated in the previous section, each machine will have a specific theme, so the toys in each machine will revolve around that theme. Some people will merely look at a gachapon machine and see if they can get a specific toy that they want, but the odds may not be in their favor. People like Mayuri from Steins;Gate try to get the gachapon toys that are more rare. Others will attempt to collect all of the gachapon toys that are offered in a collection. This makes them fun for all consumers!
Gachapon will vary in theme from anime related to seasonal to cute. You will see pins, buttons, stickers, and toys of all sorts in these machines, but they aren’t limited to anime related. You can see cute anime characters like cats and hamsters! One of our favorites have to be the various Pokemon ones we’ve seen that can change with the season or with what’s popular. We’ve seen Halloween related ones and Pikachu themed machines!
If you have any dreams of going to Japan or plan on visiting sometime soon, maybe you should put “Check out gachapon” on your list. You may find some cute gachapon toys and prizes that you want to bring home with you or give to others as fun souvenirs. It may seem a bit childish, but many people like to get gachapon, too. Hopefully now, you have a better idea of what gachapon are and won’t find yourself second guessing yourself when an anime character mentions them. Until next time!