You'll see banks of gachapon machines as you move around Japan. If you fly in to Narita Airport and head downstairs to catch a train or collect a JR pass, you'll see the rows of machines there. Not only do these make the best souvenirs I've found, they're incredibly compelling.

The term 'gachapon' (sometimes just gacha) refers to both the machines, and their contents. The machines are part of a roughly ¥30 billion industry, with around 150 new releases each month.

Inside the machines you'll find figurines, models and toys, and they can be remarkably intricate, even beautiful. They're keepsakes rather than junk, but the catch is that each machine holds a series of gachapon, usually between five to ten versions. If there's a specific one that you want, you're going to have to be prepared to invest. They range in price from the ¥100 cheapies, to ¥400 or even ¥500.

Apart from picking up a random assortment of gacha for friends and family at the airport on the way home, I thought we were pretty immune to their charms. Until we encountered the Hario brewing set. I'm slightly embarrassed to think about how many gacha we bought to put this whole set together, but I also still love the teeny tiny coffee implements we brought home (these gacha were ¥400 each).


Another benefactor of gachapon goodness have been our cats. You'll find hats for your pets dotted in the banks of machines, or head to Loft stores which seem to have a good numbers of them. As to whether your pets will thank you, well...


Want to fully embrace gachapon madness? Akihabara is the place to head:

**[Read more about the history of gachapon](**