Japanese Cute Machines

The word for “cute” in Japanese is kawaii, and they sure love cute things! In Japan, cuteness is not just for kids. You could easily see a business man with a little Hello Kitty charm hanging off his briefcase.  Even the cars are cute sometimes!


When shopping in Japan, you don’t have to look too hard to find something cute.

In addition to loving cute things, Japanese people love machines. Of course, you can buy beverages, but you can get all sorts of other things too — even cigarettes and beer.

So, it shouldn’t be surprising that there are LOTS of machines in Japan that sell cute things. Ever put a quarter into a machine to get a toy? The Japanese take this to a whole new level. The average cost of a toy is 200-300 yen, or about 2-3 US dollars.

Of course I tried them out! And got a few goodies:

Screen Shot 2014-07-12 at 10.45.25 AM

I was very curious about one machine that looked like it sold underwear! I didn’t need any, but I was very interested to see what it was all about, so I put in my two 100 yen coins, and got… a cell phone accessory. I don’t think I’ll be using this, but it’s a good story, right?

I also found this absurd machine, which printed a little figure with my face! It was only $2 to use the machine, but it turned out that this was just to make the face part, and then I needed to pay more for the figure. Still, I think it was worth the $6 for a lot of laughs:

There were even giant arcade-like places with what appeared to be giant rooms of only claw machines! Of course, other places had different types of games, even one that featured Taiko drumming. The movie Ted appeared to be very popular in Japan, as I saw claw machines full of only Ted bears on more than one occasion.

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I even met a guy on the street who was wearing a sign asking people to exchange things. He had a tray of random items, and if you had something cute or interesting, he’d trade you for whatever you wanted on his tray. I made him a balloon flower and got a little Sesame Street mirror.

Exchange Guy

Would you have anything cute in your pocket, ready to trade? Most Japanese people probably would! If not, just visit a nearby machine, throw in your coins, and grab something fun.

Categories: Japan

32 replies »

  1. Aw! These little trinkets are so cute!
    The bus, and the machine that prints a trinket with your face on it, are very creative. How did that machine work?

    Here’s a fun fact:
    There are over 5.5 million vending machines in Japan, selling many different things. These include: live lobsters, flowers, rice, and underwear.

    • The machine had a camera, so I just took that photo right there, and it printed it on a little piece of plastic. If I had brought an SD card or flash drive, I think I could have uploaded the picture too. And then once the little face piece was printed, I chose the figure I liked, and then I went to the counter to order it. I told her #13, and she went to get it and then put it together for me. It was interesting!

    • I thought you trading something with that guy on one of the busy Japanese streets was very cool. Can you tell me how you traded the goodies with each other. How did you speak to him, because you don’t Japanese, right?

  2. Some of the stuff in Japan seems really weird, especially since you can just buy them right from a machine! I bet it is really hard to just find the thing that you are looking for. I think the strangest thing that you saw is that you can take a picture of your face and put it on the face of a stuffed animal! To me, it would seem a little strange to have my face on an animal!!!

  3. The stuff that they sell in Japan is weird because you can get it from a machine. I can’t believe that there are a lot of claw machines there. I guess lots of people like claw machines. In Tokyo it’s cool that you can trade cute stuff with people in Tokyo for anything in a tray!

  4. Tealei C July 15, 2014 4:02pm said:
    That sounds like an amazing trip Mrs.Krakauer.
    I especially like the cute little bus.

    How long did it take to get to Japan?

    Did you eat any Japanese food?

    • It took about 14 hours to get to Tokyo from Newark, New Jersey (where my flight transferred). A long time! And yes, of course I ate lots of Japanese food. If you look back through the posts, I show some foods I tried, and I’ll be posting more soon.

  5. Wow! It’s so surprising that they sell everyday items through vending machines! Just asking, Have you sometimes seen machines which sell you your groceries instead of going to the grocery stores here in the U.S.?

  6. I like how there are different machines and fun stuff to get in Japan. I wished they had that in the US. When I was young I used to love all the little toys from the gum ball machines now I like the claw machines. What other little toys did the man have on his tray? I would have like to trade like that.

  7. Its so interesting that you can get just about anything from those machines. I always love getting the bouncy balls from the machines in restaurants and this is so much better! Its funny that you can get beer or cigarettes from a machine. How do they control the age?

  8. I am not surprised that there are so many cute toys in Tokyo. Think of the shows that they make(Pokemon), two words big eyes. 0.0
    I would spend all my money on those toys.

  9. WOW that is a lot of cute. The only thing that I find more terrorizing than cute is the bus. Like if a Japanese guy is having a stroll in the night to go buy more kawaii cookies and there are a bunch of creepy buses whooshing past him. I really don’t think he’s gonna end up buyn cookies. The other thing I find interesting is the cute pics on the cigarettes. I don’t get how a life threatening schmick can be so adorable. If they are trying to atract customers with Kawaii pictures I don’t think its a good idea

  10. All the little toys and games were so cute. Those little toy machines looked so fancy, yet they only dispense toys. The arcade game with the Taiko drumming looked really cool. Also, all the little toys you got from playing the games were so funny and cute like the little teddy bear and the phone case was kind of funny too. Also, the panda on the car/bus thing was so adorable. That is really cool how you can just trade cute things with people walking on the street.

  11. The car with the panda face was really cute. It seems kind of odd that they have so many machines. Why do they love cute things so much? The phone accessory was kind of unusual.

  12. The bus with the panda face was so cute! Wow Japanese people really like cute things! The guy on the street asking for cute thing was proof. Japanese people really do like there machines. in the arcade place with lots of claw games must have been a lot easier to win a price then the ones in the us because you had so many options. They have a lot of vending machines. I wonder how many thin you use on a daily biases you could get from vending machines in Japan.

  13. Knowing myself I love cute things and I love machines so I would really love to go to Japan but I don’t have the funds. 😦 But I can read this article when i’m bored so that’s good.

  14. The toys were so cute.I would love to have kawaii toy machines in the U.S.I would love to visit Japan one day.

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