Japan’s World of Gashapons

Disclaimer: This guest post is contributed by Anthony Green

Japan’s World of Gashapons

Anybody who’s been to Japan has seen a Gashapon vending machine at some point of being in the country. Gashapons are those small, round plastic objects that contain a cute toy, keychain, ballpen, or any other the small object they can fit inside a tiny capsule.

Why is it called a gashapon?

Gashapon is an onomatopoeia in Japanese. It’s a sort of play on words and sounds. “Gasha” is how the Japanese hear the sound of vending machines when they turn the knob after placing a coin in the slot. “Pon,” on the other hand, is the sound of the plastic capsule dropping to the bottom of the vending machine.

Popularity in Japan

Gashapons are extremely popular in Japan because of their “kawaii” appearance. Cute is king in Japan and gashapons fall into that category. In addition, gashapon machines are extremely cheap, requiring people to only drop about 100¥ (less than $1) per turn.

Gashapons popularity isn’t just resigned to Japan either as others countries across the world have taken them to their hearts. In fact, they are so popular that a company called “Gacha Crate” is shipping these cute capsules to the four corners of the world. The Nerf Herd Blog featured this company last year, and you can check them out if you’re interested in receiving 6 random gashapons from Japan every month.

A lot of companies capitalize on gashapons because of the latter’s cultural significance among the Japanese people. Anime creators, for one, almost always release action figures for their work in the form of gashapon action figures. The same goes for video game developers. Gashapons of popular Japanese video game icons such as Super Mario and Final Fantasy have been rampant across Japan for many years now.

In addition, if the construction of casinos pushes through in Japan in time for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, casino companies will most probably take cue from the works of online gaming providers to make sure that the land-based casinos prevail in the country regardless of the tough opposition they will face in terms of their digital counterparts.

Online gaming titles are all about giving games their own uniqueness and mechanics, and they sometimes carry with them commercially licensed themes. The Batman slot game, for one, has been turned into a slot title and it sets itself apart from the others not only through its fight animations but game mechanics as well. On the other hand, the highly-successful Slingo Riches game has combined the mechanics of slots and bingo in order to provide a fresh twist to both classic games. Japan focuses on giving products their own individuality and soul, and they can do this with casino games by adapting their products similar to online titles if the laws get passed before the 2020 Olympic Games.

Cute and cool items

While the designs that drop from the machines are picked at random, people can choose what kind of gashapon they want: toy, pen, keychain, handkerchief, etc. Gashapon machines have posters inside them that indicate what kind of gashapons people can expect from the machine. In addition, gashapons are separated based on their commercial licensing. So a Hello Kitty gashapon machine will never be mixed with a machine that drops Sonic the Hedgehog items, for instance.

Give it a twist!

If you’re in Japan, give the gashapon a try! Pick a certain theme that interests you and start turning the knob! Gashapons can be great souvenirs, especially for anime enthusiasts, gamers, and people who like anything remotely cute