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Gachapon vs Slot Machines: Is It the Same Thing?

Gambling is considered illegal in Japan, except for lotteries and pachinkos. However, there are some machines that are very popular in the country that are deemed in the “grey area” of the gambling definition. What we are talking about is the popular vending machines called Gachapon.

What is gachapon?

Gachapon or gashapon is a vending machine in Japan that produces miniature toys and other items upon turning the dial after inserting a coin in the slots given. 

After you turn the dial, a capsule will fall from the tray and that will be the prize that you will be getting. The items inside the capsules are random and you cannot choose what type of item you are going to get and you will only know what’s inside upon opening the capsule.

The term gachapon is a contraction from the words describing the sounds that came from the machine, “gacha” is the sound made from dialing the crank and “pon” came from the sound while opening the capsules.

Why is it very popular in Japan?

Gashapons have increased in popularity in Japan especially in the 90s. The legendary status of these vending machines came from the thrill that the children feel when opening up the capsules and seeing what’s inside. 

The items within the vending machines are varied from machine to machine. However, the most common items are toys of different shapes and colors. Miniature figurines of people and animated characters are also the most popular item inside.

Other items aside from toys are personal items such as keychains and mobile phone accessories. Special collectible items are also among the things that you will find inside the capsules such as anime memorabilias and other merchandise.

The demographics of individuals who are playing gachapon varies, however, the machine is most popular among children of all ages. 

Is it considered gambling?

In Japan, gambling is prohibited throughout and several gambling laws are enforced to ensure that no one will violate the law. The only legal gambling activity in Japan is pachinko machines and lotteries.

Gashapons are not necessarily a gambling machine although it is the closest thing we have for a slot machine. However, people who play with gashapons only insert coins and the prize is an item instead of money. 

Even though some viewed gashapon as a gambling machine, at the end of the day, these are vending machines. In gashapons, players are trading money with an item, not money. Basically, players are like buying a toy, but instead of choosing what item they will be buying, the items are randomly given.

What are the differences or similarities between gachapon and slots?

It is sometimes hard not to compare gashapons to casino slot machines, they function the same way.  

Players are instructed to insert a coin in a coin slot, and then instructed to turn the crank so that  a prize will randomly fall in the receiving tray. In slot machines, the process is basically the same except that a prize will only fall from the tray if you land a winning combination of symbols in a spinning set of reels.

Slots are mostly used for real money gambling in the casino singapore, while gashapons are a form of retail business in a vending machine form. Although, many people still believe that gachapons are slot machines for kids.


Gachapon is a popular vending machine in Japan that produces small toys and items that can be used or collected. This machine definitely captures the essence of modern Japanese culture and tradition. 

The question whether the game is a form of gambling or not, we are leaving this in the hands of the players themselves. Gachapon along with pachinko is a gaming machine that is definitely made in Japan.

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