Good things come in small plastic balls
Gachapon, coin operated vending machines, are ubiquitous in Japan.
Unlike their downscale cousins in the US, which usually dispense stale candy or cheap plastic gadgets, gachapon figurines can be collectors items.
The variety is endless, and changes constantly based on trends in the entertainment industry.
The prices depend on the detail and rarity of the figurines, and usually range between 100 and 500 yen, with 200 being the usual price. Many of the irreverent figurines can also be used as cellphone straps.
Small, easily packable and amusing, gachapon make ideal souvenirs. They even come in their own wrapping!
While it is easy to find small groupings of gachapon machines in train stations, malls and even restaurants (particularly kaiten sushi places), there are entire corridors and stores dedicated to them.
The largest of these is, unsurprisingly, located in Akihabara.
The Akihabara Gachapon Kaikan boasts 530 different machines, from vintage to the latest craze: http://otakumode.com/sp/visit_japan/akihabara/at006
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