Greetings and salutations, my fellow nerds, geeks, otakus, and those in-between! March has already descended upon us, and with each month comes a whole new theme for our store. For this month we’re all about that gashapon, my lads!
Yes, that’s right! The innocent yet addictive gashapon! But what exactly is it, really? While the name certainly is Japanese, the gashapon machine is not too dissimilar to that of the humble gumball vending machine which is from the 1900s. While the inclusion of toys did not become common place until the 1960’s when Japanese entrepreneur Ryuzo Shigeta also goes by the name of Gacha-gacha Ojisan began using American vending machines and adding small novelty items encased in a plastic shell to attract customers.
Fast forward to roughly 10-years later, toy giant Bandai hot off the heels with of Mobile Suit Gundam, Kamen Rider, Super Sentai and other popular shows of the time, began selling small scale merchandise as capsule toys. Even risking it all on customers wouldn’t mind spending to ¥100 per capsule of appose to many at the time were only selling ¥20 per capsule. Their luck paid off, and from there, the gashapon race was on.
So, the question is why is it called “gashapon” anyway? Well, according to good ol’ Wikipedia, the name is actually an onomatopoeia of the sound “gacha-gacha” machine’s handle is cranked, while the “pon’’ is from the of the ball being dropped. Who knew, right.
While gashapon today is most commonly associated with anime and manga culture, that’s not really the case. With a majority of capsule toys are made up from popular anime franchises, you’d be surprised that almost anything can be made into a capsule toy. Such examples include miniatures of animals, bread keychains, to sushi that looks just as real. Like I said, almost anything can be turned into a capsule toy that would appeal to either children or adults- if you can think it, there’s probably one in existence.
Regardless of where you live, gashapons are either relatively easy to find, or maddeningly hard- chances may vary. So, looking up for the closest hobby store (like ours) is the next best thing. If, you ever have the opportunity to travel to Japan, do yourself a favor, head on over Gashapon Kaikan in Akihabara. Recognizable by its yellow signboard, this store has become the place to go for both locals and tourist alike.
For almost 15-20 years now, Gashapon Kaikan has been stocking up on new gashapons for eager customers to get their hands on. The moment you walk inside, you’re hit with a sensory overload of just how machines there are, rows upon rows reaching to the heights of ceiling. With almost 50 new titles each month, customers can rest assure there is shortage of excitement to be had- so it’s a new experience every time you come back.
Another place to note take is Taiwan, particularly in Taipei City Mall which has been dubbed the “Akihabara of Taipei” for it’s catering to the otaku subculture with shops offering figurines, games, cosplay, and of course gashapon. Much like its namesake, gashapon machines stacked up against the wall from one end to the other.
So, before we wrap up this post, have you ever wondered why these miniatures or the act of playing gashapon has become so popular? Perhaps it’s the excitement of not knowing the outcome, the random nature of how each ball would dispense out. Just like kuji or blind boxes, it’s the thrill thatexcites us- or! It’s our fondness of something that’s cute that makes us feel happy. Whatever it is, gashapons are just for both that inner child in every adult, or to every child that sees a new toy.
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