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Capsule toy vending machines luring foreign tourists at Narita

Jiji Press

People look at capsule toy vending machines at Narita Airport on Dec. 24.

Jiji Press NARITA, Chiba (Jiji Press) — Capsule toy vending machines installed at Narita Airport have become magnets for foreign visitors.

T-Arts Co. set up a total of 325 vending machines to dispense capsule toys in the basement floor of the airport’s Terminal 2 building, near escalators connecting Airport Terminal 2 Station, and the departure lobby and at some other locations, expecting purchases by foreign tourists waiting for return flights with leftover coins.

The project hit a jackpot.

Per-machine sales at the airport are more than three times the average sales of such machines across Japan, the unit of major Japanese toy maker Tomy Co. said.

About 340 types of capsule toys, which the company calls “gacha,” including those aimed at foreign visitors such as “kokeshi” traditional Japanese wooden dolls, miniature rickshaws and plastic food samples, can be purchased from ¥100 to ¥500.

Pokemon and animal figures are especially popular, the company said, adding that capsules that contain hard-to-find items may roll out of the machines.

T-Arts has posted an advertisement that says “Why Japanese people like this!” in nine languages around the machines, including English, Chinese and Korean. There also are explanations about how to use the machines in foreign languages.

Usually, a capsule toy vending machine needs to be restocked once in a week at the most, but “at the airport we have to do it twice or three times a week,” a company official said.

Capsule toys in Japan have a lot of varieties and are unique, compared with those in Taiwan, said a 25-year-old Taiwan man who was waiting for a return flight after traveling to Hokkaido with his family.

Selling capsule toys at airports is a genius idea, he added, smiling with his Pokemon toy in his hand.

T-Arts also installed 100 vending machines at Chubu Centrair International Airport for a time-limited event during the year-end and New Year holidays.

At Haneda Airport, there are now 10 gacha machines.

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