capsule toy

History of Capsule Toys in Japan

Capsule Toys are an everyday scene in Japan

Capsule toys, commonly called gashapon, gachapon, or gacha-gacha, can be found everywhere in Japan. They can be found in supermarkets, candy stores, shopping malls, drugstores, restaurants, tourist attractions, museums, and highway parking areas.

History of Capsule Toys in Japan

Capsule toys have evolved uniquely in Japan. It is said that the prototype was originally a candy and gum vending machine that existed in the United States around 1880. It evolved into a machine called a gumball machine. The machines were improved to include extras along with the candy and gum, but at first the products were not in capsules, and the extras were mixed in with the candy and other items. In 1956, a hygienic and break-resistant capsule was developed in the U.S., and capsule toys were born. At that time, American manufacturers had to find and commission high-level craftsmen in Japan and Hong Kong to make the toys to put inside.

As of May 2022, examples of particularly popular items include the “Great Book of Life” series, cat pen holders, push buttons, and products in which the capsule itself becomes part of the figure. Another popular genre is that of corporate collaborations. Examples include food samples made in collaboration with restaurants and food manufacturers, and miniature camping equipment made by outdoor manufacturers.

Great as a souvenir

Gashapon is beginning to attract the attention of some overseas consumers. Currently, it is mainly anime and manga character goods that are popular among foreigners. Since Japan has traditionally developed a technique for elaborately crafting small objects, a variety of miniature goods, good old Japanese figures, and Japanese traffic lights may also be good as unique and unusual souvenirs. Food sample key chains are also available.

What kind of capsule toys do you like?
Or what kind of capsule toys would you like to get when you come to Japan?

We welcome your comments and inquiries.

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