You will tell me you already know about them, but I noticed not this many people had written about yet, so I told myself it was now or never. Gashapons, for all those who don’t know it, are all these vending machines like the ones you used to play with as a kid during fairs, in restaurants or even in supermarkets, attracting you with prizes such as “sticky hands” or even small cars, which could make any single kid jealous of the lucky one (let’s be honest, we all showed off at school with our 2$ sticky hand, full of dust but still so much fun).
The fact is that in Japan, these machines offer prizes related to Japanese animes, movies or any kind of thing that can be cheap and have the same small size, you will also find reproductions of Japanese dishes or other weird things (not really exciting I admit), but most of them will make you want to buy for sure. In addition to all the anime figures, I saw some “The amazing Spider-Man” action figures as well as some Legos just yesterday, so there’s definitely something for everyone, and I reckon it’s the reason of their success, the price varies from 200Y to some 500Y, you don’t need this much time to buy them and you can become an addict very fast. The quality is good and the prize related to our favourite series or passions, that makes us want to collect them, which becomes possible since they don’t take this much room.
On a commercial perspective, it doesn’t cost much, no need to hire a seller, and the Japanese customers respect the machines and will never try to break them or nothing. The customers are not only kids so they also have a little more money to spend in these vending machines, so it sounds like a great business (more than 2 billions capsules sold before 2005). And if you’re missing one action figure in your collection, don’t worry, you can still get it from one of the few shops that re-sells them, but as you choose, it’s of course a little more expensive, and if the item is a rare one, get ready to spend a lot.
Usually, you can find these vending machines pretty much everywhere, but if you don’t want to walk for ages looking for a specific machine, there are two main places in Akihabara you can buy them, on the 6th floor of the Yodobashi store and in the below-spotted shop Gashapon. There, you’ll find whole alleys full of these machines and Tokyo’s widest range of capsules (to me), so have fun, but please behave.