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Perfect as Souvenirs from Japan! Introducing Twenty of the Latest Gachapon (Capsule Toys)

Capsule toys have recently been attracting the attention of travelers to Japan. There is a wide variety, ranging from humorous toys to intricate figurines, and even practical ones, and they are perfect as souvenirs. Here are 20 of the latest capsule toys that are highly recommended.

What are Capsule Toys?

Capsule toys are toys and figurines in capsules that can be bought by putting coins in a vending machine and turning a lever. They may be called "gachapon" or "gashapon" depending on the manufacturer. Each vending machine has a variety of items of the same series that come out randomly. There are many ways of enjoying the purchasing process, such as posting on social media if you get a rare item, or continuing to put coins in until you have the whole series.
Capsule toy vending machines can be found in a variety of places around Japan, such as department stores, supermarkets, and family-friendly restaurants. There are even dedicated stores such as Akihabara Gachapon Hall in Akihabara, Tokyo. Recently, some have been set up in airports (such as Narita and Kansai International Airport), so why not use up your remaining coins to try them out if you have time before boarding your flight?

Playful Figurines

1. Fuchico on the Cup 5

This is the fifth of a popular series with record-breaking sales since its release in 2012. The cute Fuchico is an original character designed by the famed animation artist, Katsuki Tanaka. Have fun hanging her on the rim (fuchi) of a cup or anything else you can think of! Her popularity goes beyond the realm of capsule toys, to the extent that collections of photographs and character goods have been released. In addition to the No. 5 series (which includes 7 poses, including one that is secret), a huge variety of other Fuchico capsule toys have been released.

Price: 200 JPY (incl. tax)

1. Fuchico on the Cup 5

2. Hyogaki no Soryo (Ice Age Monk)

"What the heck is this!?" "It makes no sense!" Since their release, these figurines have been attracting great interest, especially on social media. The concept is "monks who persist in training beyond space and time in the harsh Ice Age environment." There are monks in strange situations, such as cleaning or meditating covered in freezing cold snow (4 types in all), that are somehow mesmerizing. They are unique figurines with a curious appeal.

Price: 200 JPY (incl. tax)

2. Hyogaki no Soryo (Ice Age Monk)

Animal Figurines

3. Neko to Shosai (Cat and Study)

The set depicts carefree cats doing as they please in a study. They seem to always get up to mischief when you're busy, but you can't help but forgive them because they are so cute! There are six different figurines, such as the one photographed of a black cat sleeping on stationery and a cat that has made paw prints on an envelope. Each one is so cute you may want to get them all!

Price: 200 JPY (incl. tax)

3. Neko to Shosai (Cat and Study)

4. Jama Inko (Annoying Parrot)

The "Jama xx series" is a hugely popular series of figurines that depict pets that are annoying but cute, always getting in the way when you start something. This line is of cute parrots. There are six versions, including one ripping up a notebook and another on a laptop. These adorable parrots are sure to warm your heart.

Price: 200 JPY (incl. tax)

5. Shiba Inu to Sneaker (Shiba and Sneaker)

Shiba Inu have long been popular pets in Japanese homes. It is a Japanese breed of dog that is beloved for its many charms, including a face that looks like a fox or racoon, a tail that curls up, and wholehearted loyalty to its owner. It is a lovable breed that is often depicted in figurines with a variety of different expressions and poses. Shiba Inu to Sneaker, for example, is an adorable line of shiba in different poses featuring a sneaker, such as smelling one or sticking its head in one (six versions in all).

Price: 200 JPY (incl. tax)

5. Shiba Inu to Sneaker (Shiba and Sneaker)

6. Purarin Friends

Purarin Friends is a series of figurines of cute animals. Their hands and feet are shaped to hang on to rope-shaped items, so they can be hooked on cords and cables. Hang them in a variety of places so they will make you smile when they catch your eye. The series consists of five animals: fennec fox, panda, rabbit, Russian Blue cat, and armadillo.

Price: 200 JPY (incl. tax)

Japanese Cultural Miniatures

7. Nihon no Komainu (Japanese Lion-dog)

Komainu are statues of a lion-like creature that have roots in ancient India. They are said to ward off evil and can be found in Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples across Japan as protectors of Shinto and Buddhist deities. Nihon no Komainu is a series of precisely created figurines of popular komainu. There are a total of six komainu, including the Toji-style Komainu (wood/stone) distinguished by its powerful body; the Daihojinja-style Komainu (wood/stone), an outstanding example of a komainu for a wooden Shinto shrine; and the adorable Kumano-jinja-style Hajime Komainu (bronze/stone).

Price: 300 JPY (incl. tax)

7. Nihon no Komainu (Japanese Lion-dog)

8. BONSAI-02

Bonsai is an art form in which plants are grown in pots in a manner that represents nature. It has been garnering attention around the world and has captured the imagination of many people. The BONSAI-02 figurines that depict bonsai are recommended for anyone interested in bonsai. They are miniatures that evoke a sense of Japanese aesthetics that can be used to decorate the house. There are seven versions in all, including "moss & pot" and "pine tree, moss & pot", so get more than one to enhance their appeal.

Price: 200 JPY (incl. tax)

9. Sengoku no Chaki (Feudal Tea Utensils)

Chaki are items used in traditional Japanese tea ceremony including kyusu (pot) for pouring the tea and chaire, a container for matcha green tea. During the Warring States period (1467 - late 16th century), the warrior lords competed to acquire wonderful chaki, resulting in the creation of many masterpieces. Sengoku no Chaki are miniature reproductions of famous chaki from that time. They have been attracting attention for their high quality, including their realistic appearance. There is a total of six, of which four come with a box that looks like a paulownia box​ to store chaki in. The second series, Sengoku no Chaki Ni, is scheduled to be released in February 2019, so be sure to look for it.

Price: 300 JPY (incl. tax)

9. Sengoku no Chaki (Feudal Tea Utensils)

10. The Greatest Treasures of Japan—Statues of Buddha— Three Dimensional Catalog 5 "Guardian Deities that Ward off Evil"

This is the fifth of the popular The Greatest Treasures of Japan—Statues of Buddha— Three Dimensional Catalog series. Famous Buddha statues from across Japan are realistically reproduced with precise forms and colors to evoke a sense of Japan's Buddhist culture. There are four statues including one of Kongo Rikishi (Deva king) characterized by a wrathful expression and powerful body. Each comes in three versions—one that represents the colors that have faded over time, one that recreates the wood tones, and one that has been finished with gold leaf—so there are 12 in all.

Price: 400 JPY (incl. tax)

10. The Greatest Treasures of Japan—Statues of Buddha— Three Dimensional Catalog 5 "Guardian Deities that Ward off Evil"

11. Punitto Sushi Mascot with Geta BC

There are many capsule toys that represent foods such as meat, bread, and cup noodles. Recommended is the Punitto Sushi Mascot with Geta BC, a series of miniature sushi—one of Japan's most famous foods. There is a total of five versions of realistic sushi on a wooden platform called geta. They have a soft, jelly-like texture that is fun to touch.

Price: 300 JPY (incl. tax)

12. Ori Real Tsuru

Origami is the art of making forms by folding one piece of paper. In particular, the crane is an easy and popular origami that most Japanese people have experience making. The folded crane is called "orizuru", and the Ori Real Tsuru is a toy in the form of orizuru. There is a total of six versions, including red, blue, yellow, green, pink and red-crowned crane. You can collect many and enjoy them a variety of different ways, such as placing them together like a coordinated group of gymnasts or making different combinations of the bodies and wings.

Price: 300 JPY (incl. tax)

13. Gassho Nihai (Press the Hands Together, Bow Twice)

The action of pressing one's hands together in prayer originates in India and is considered to be a Buddhist etiquette in Japan. It is an action that is a part of the daily lives of Japanese people and is often accompanied by the words "itadakimasu" when starting a meal. Gassho Nihai is a series of five animal figurines (elephant, panda, serval cat, white rabbit, and tree frog) with their hands pressed together in prayer. They are unique figurines of adorable animals pressing their hands together with solemn expressions on their faces.

Price: 200 JPY (incl. tax)

Practical(?) Miniatures

14. Okusuri to Kyukyubako (Medicine and First-aid Kit)

Okusuri to Kyukyubako is a series of six capsule toys including three medicine sets and first-aid kits in red, green, and white. The medicine sets are miniatures of oral medicines, band-aids, and thermometers that are tiny but realistic. The first-aid kits can be used to put the miniature medicines in, or as holders for items such as paper clips.

Price: 200 JPY (incl. tax)

14. Okusuri to Kyukyubako (Medicine and First-aid Kit)

15. The Paper 3

The Paper 3 is a series of capsule toys depicting various paper products. It consists of five options, including toilet paper with a holder (silver and light blue), tissue boxes (wood and flowered), and a set of two rolls of toilet paper in cute wrapping. They are not just miniatures, but can be used as memo paper as well.

Price: 200 JPY (incl. tax)

16. 1/12 Capsule Station Ⅵ

This is a 1/12-size miniature of Capsule Station VI, a vending machine for capsule toys that is the latest as of 2018. It can be opened to change the contents and has a knob to turn to eject a capsule, and is highly rated for its precise replication of the real thing. There are seven colors, including blue and green, so you can buy multiple machines and recreate the scene of a capsule toy sales area.

Price: 200 JPY (incl. tax)

16. 1/12 Capsule Station Ⅵ

17. THE Kinko 2 (The Safe 2)

THE Kinko 2 is a miniature safe. Its appeal is the detailed design in which, for example, a dial that can be turned to lock it. There is a thin slit on the top that you can put coins through so you can use it as a small piggy bank. Be sure to remember the code you set or you won't be able to open it. There are six stylish designs, such as one with a camouflage pattern.

Price: 200 JPY (incl. tax)

17. THE Kinko 2 (The Safe 2)

18. Game Poke 5 Clear Pastel

Game Poke 5 is a gaming console that fits in the palm of your hand. It may be small, but has an amazing 26 games in one console. There are five different colors, but the games on each are the same. They are handy consoles to enjoy Breakout, races, and gun shooting wherever you are.

Price: 300 JPY (incl. tax)

18. Game Poke 5 Clear Pastel

19. THE Suito VOL.2 (THE Thermos VOL. 2)

This is the second in a series of miniature cases in the shape of thermoses that have been attracting attention on social media for their realistic design. It is a metal thermos made by dye casting so it has heft despite its small size. Unfortunately, it is not suited for putting drinks in, but you can take the lid off and put small items in it. There are eight versions of which four (TYPE-A) have caps.

Price: 300 JPY (incl. tax)

19. THE Suito VOL.2 (THE Thermos VOL. 2)

20. Train Timetable Watch Shinkansen & Yamanote Line VOL.1

Digital timetables at stations that show the names of trains, their destinations, and departure times are convenient tools to check which train to get on. The Train Timetable Watch is a watch that depicts such timetables. Timetables for five lines, such as the outer loop of JR Yamanote Line in Tokyo and the Tokaido Shinkansen bound for Tokyo, are faithfully reproduced with the portion for departure times made into a digital watch. It is a capsule toy irresistible to train lovers.

Price: 300 JPY (incl. tax)

20. Train Timetable Watch Shinkansen & Yamanote Line VOL.1

New capsule toys are being released all the time, replacing the old ones, so it is common for a toy to quickly become hard to find. If you see a capsule toy that catches your eye while in Japan, be sure to take the opportunity to get it.

*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.

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