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Fans flock to huge new capsule toy store in west Japan

Rows of vending machines to dispense "Gashapon" capsule toys are seen at a shop in the town of Kikuyo, Kumamoto Prefecture. (Mainichi/Yasuhisa Yamamoto)

KIKUYO, Kumamoto -- A large-scale store specializing in "Gashapon," or vending machine-dispensed capsule toys offered by Bandai Co., has opened at a shopping mall in this southwestern Japan town, attracting a range of customers from children to adults.

    Dubbed a "Gashapon department store," rows of about 1,000 vending machines each containing dozens of capsule toys occupy the approximately 150-square-meter shop on the third floor of the south wing of Youme Town Hikarinomori in the town of Kikuyo, Kumamoto Prefecture.

    The store is the fifth "Gashapon department store" to be launched in Japan, following ones in Yokohama south of Tokyo, the Fukuoka Prefecture cities of Fukuoka and Kurume in Kyushu, and the central Japan city of Nagoya. The latest outlet is tied for third place with the Nagoya store in terms of the number of vending machines, following the Yokohama and Sapporo outlets.

    Among the hot sellers at those Gashapon stores are items related to the popular Japanese manga and anime series "Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba," according to operator Bandai Namco Amusement Inc., based in Tokyo's Minato Ward. At the Kyushu stores, miniature items of bread maker Ryoyu Co. based in Onojo, Fukuoka Prefecture, as well as "elaborate miniatures including those of automated external defibrillators (AED)" are also popular, a public relations official for Bandai Namco said.

    The price of Gashapon ranges from 200 to 600 yen apiece. Capsule toys of other makers are also on offer at the store in Youme Town Hikarinomori, which is open from 9:30 a.m. through 10 p.m.

    (Japanese original by Yasuhisa Yamamoto, Kumamoto Bureau)

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