In the world of collectables and unique trinkets, there is a distinct charm in the realm of gachapon. When I first moved to Tokyo, I found out about these beloved vending machines and how they have captured the hearts of locals (and soon mine too) with their irresistibly addictive appeal. Among the vibrant streets of Tokyo lies a gachapon wonderland, amongst them Bandai Namco boasting the title of the largest gachapon store in the city in Ikebukuro’s Sunshine City. Can you imagine 3,340 gachapon machine lined up one after the other? It’s a remarkable destination that would engulf anyone into this ever-intriguing world of gachapon. Curious? Follow me on Instagram and YouTube for more adventures!
First off, if you’re not familiar with this oh-so-terribly addictive concept… What on earth is even a Gachapon? Well Gachapon is a combination of the Japanese onomatopoeia "gacha" (the sound of a capsule toy vending machine) and the English word "pon," which represents the delightful experience of turning the crank and hearing the capsule drop, revealing a surprise within. It’s like a sensory joy as well as a soothing ASMR tickle at the same time. These mini machines are filled with small, whimsical toys, figurines, keychains, and various other odd collectables, often based on popular anime, video game characters, and everyday objects (yes, that includes tempura and even sushi-lookalike figures). Each gachapon offers a randomized chance to obtain a particular item, adding an element of childlike surprise and excitement to the experience. It’s no wonder that anyone of any age adores it!
Located in the heart of Tokyo's bustling Ikebukuro’s Sunshine City, the undisputed mecca for anime and gaming enthusiasts (aside from Akihabara of course), is the largest gachapon store in the city. This paradise that is Gashapon Bandai Official Shop takes up a whole floor of Sunshine City’s World Import Mart Building. When I had first entered the doors, the store was brimming with rows upon rows of gachapon machines, a true haven for collectors and curious visitors alike.
Upon entering, visitors are greeted by the sight of an extensive collection of gachapon machines, showcasing an impressive range of themes and characters. From popular anime series and iconic video game franchises to adorable animals and food replicas, there is something to captivate the interest of every visitor. The great thing too is that everything is very organized - depending on the theme that you want or going for, they are in their own easy to find sections. Me, I love anything Sanrio, so it was awesome to find the Sanrio-theme gachapon figurines and toys were all in one section. As well as Magical Girls like Cardcaptor Sakura and Sailor Moon being close by together.
Navigating through the store's labyrinthine aisles, it was like I was embarking on a treasure hunt, discovering captivating gachapon machines at every turn. The walls are adorned with eye-catching displays, enticing passersby to try their luck and discover the surprise that awaits inside each capsule. The machines themselves are impeccably maintained, and the process of turning the crank and waiting for the capsule to drop adds an extra layer of anticipation to the overall experience. And you’ll see people of all ages - from salarymen in their business suits to kids in their sailor-looking school uniforms at the machines.
One can find gachapon machines showcasing beloved characters from anime and manga such as Dragon Ball, One Piece, and Naruto. Gaming enthusiasts can revel in machines featuring characters from iconic video game series like Super Mario, Pokémon, and The Legend of Zelda. There are even gachapon machines dedicated to popular tourist attractions in Tokyo, allowing visitors to take home a miniature souvenir of their journey (I tried to get the Tokyo Tower figurine, but that one still eludes me).
Whether you’re playing gachapon in this store or a random one in the street around Tokyo, the machines exclusively uses Japanese yen coins. The handy thing about Bandai Namco's Gashapon Department Store are the atm and bill-changing machines dotted around the store. Oh, and you can grab a mini basket to carry around as you collect your gachapon eggs. There’s a section filled with tables and chairs where you can then sit down and have a gander opening them for the surprise inside.
After all, gachapon embodies the joy of collecting, with many enthusiasts dedicating themselves to completing entire sets of gachapon toys or finding rare and limited-edition items. Some machines even offer a chance to win special prizes or secret variants, making the hunt all the more thrilling. The only downside for me is getting duplicates or the ones that I didn’t have my eyes set on. But really, not only are gachapon a source of delight for collectors, they also make excellent gifts and souvenirs, encapsulating the charm and creativity of Japanese culture.
I have brought a Crayon Shin-chan one for my partner (and many for myself hehe)! The compact size and affordable price of gachapon and their egg-like packaging make them easy to carry and share with friends and your loved ones, spreading the excitement and joy that comes with each surprise capsule. So, whether you are a dedicated collector, an anime fan, or simply curious about this fascinating aspect of Japanese culture, you definitely have to try it out when you’re in Japan (and be sure to check out this mega store when you are in Tokyo).
Sunshine City3 Chome-1 Higashiikebukuro, Toshima City, Tokyo 170-8630, Japan
Where to stay in Ikebukuro
Ikebukuro is one of my favourite neighbourhoods in Tokyo! It’s also much more affordable for accommodations than other neighbourhoods in the city. I highly recommend Hotel Wing International Select Ikebukuro for those who want to be closer to attractions like Koyasuinari Shrine, Ikebukuro Suiten-gu Shrine and Honryuji Temple. Or Hotel Wing International Ikebukuro is another budget-friendly hotel that’s only an 8-minute walk from JR Ikebukuro Train Station. For a modern Japanese design hotel, check out Asta Hotel which is also in Ikebukuro.
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