May the odds (of getting a good gacha toy) be ever in your favour.

Our reporter Saya is a big fan of capsule toy machines, or gacha machines. For her, few things compare to the simple joy of cracking open a capsule and seeing what toy awaits inside. Saya has always especially enjoyed miniature replicas of food, in particular from popular real-life restaurants. In fact, she’s always wondered if it would be possible to live your life at the whim of the gacha gods, and only eat meals that had first come out of a gacha machine. If she wanted to eat a Big Mac, for example, she’d need to find a gacha machine containing toy versions of Big Macs.

Sadly, Saya is from somewhere a little more rural, and while gacha are pretty much ubiquitous throughout the country, where she lives doesn’t quite have the sheer range and volume of gacha machines like Tokyo does.

▼ Tokyo has entire stores dedicated to gacha machines.

But as luck would have it, Saya recently found herself in Tokyo on a business trip. She was excited to enjoy all the normal sights and sounds Tokyo had to offer, but in particular the vast number of gacha machines. It was here that she decided to carry out her dream gastronomic gacha challenge — during her time in Tokyo, she would only eat food that she’d gotten a miniature replica version of from a gacha machine.

She set the following rules for her Gacha Gourmet Challenge —

  1. She could only eat food that she’d pulled a replica version of from a gacha machine.
  2. Drinking water was permitted to avoid dehydration. Also, any sides that were added onto meals as an extra would be allowed.
  3. Only one pull per gacha machine is permitted — no re-rolls!
  4. The capsule would remain sealed until Saya arrived at her chosen restaurant.

So with the rules set in place, Saya set off to her first destination, Ariake. She was there to check out Small Worlds Tokyo, and on the way there she decided to stop off at the nearby Gasha Koko Ariake Garden capsule toy store. Saya had already eaten breakfast at her hotel, and it was a little too early for lunch, but maybe she could find a mid-afternoon snack.

As expected, there were rows upon rows of gacha machines ready to be perused. There would surely be some food-related gacha in here, Saya thought, and as her eyes darted around the room… ah! There was one right here!

But before she could get too excited, a closer look revealed that this was actually mini replicas of food shown in One Piece, and unless she could find some sort of special collaboration cafe, there’s little chance she’d be able to find the ‘real life’ version of this food.

▼ But it would surely be easy to find a branch of Mister Donut!

The donut keychains she found would definitely have a real-life equivalent at any branch of Mister Donut. Sure, it wouldn’t be the most filling snack, and she wouldn’t be able to buy any coffee to go with it, but it was a good start.

Or so she thought, as a quick check on Google Maps showed that there were no branches of Mister Donut in the Ariake area at all, and her plans were scuppered once more.

Gasha Koko Ariake Garden had a lot of other gacha machines, but they seemed to be mostly mascot and anime character based, so Saya would have to take her search for replica food gacha elsewhere.

After her trip to the Small Worlds Tokyo exhibit, it was time for lunch. Her next stop was Shimbashi, and as luck would have it there was a branch of Kenele Stand in Shimbashi Station. Kenele Stands are operated by gacha maker Kenelephant, and are full of toys aimed at a more adult audience. These gacha were a bit more expensive, but it would probably be easier to find miniature food replicas here.

▼ It didn’t take long to find a perfect one — a gacha selling replicas from Kua’Aina, a Hawaiian burger store.

Saya had never heard of this restaurant before, as they exist mostly in bigger cities around Japan. A quick check saw that there was a branch nearby in the Marunoichi Building near Tokyo Station, so it was totally doable.

Saya popped 500 yen (US$3.80) into the slot, cranked the wheel and out popped her lunch; at least, a miniature version of it, anyway. As per the rules, she couldn’t open the capsule until she’d arrived at the restaurant, so she popped it in her bag and made her way to Tokyo Station, like she was on some sort of RPG quest.

Armed with her special capsule, brave warrior Saya made it to Kua’Aina, instantly recognisable by its bright colours and surrounding palm trees. She’d arrived at her destination, and was ready to do battle with the gacha gods. What lunch would they bestow upon her?

The front of the store had a range of delicious looking burgers and sandwiches, and Saya felt her mouth begin to water. She was really in the mood for a burger with fries, but a sandwich would be fine as well.

But of course, she had no say in the matter — what she would be eating here would be decided by what came out of the gacha.

▼ She cracked open the capsule with trepidation…

▼ … to find a pancake drenched in caramel.

It certainly wasn’t a bad pull, and Saya loves pancakes. But she’d been excited to try out the Hawaiian burger, so she couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed. Still, rules are rules, so Saya walked in and ordered the same, real-life version of her capsule toy; the Pancake Brûlée set (980 yen).

The pancake soon arrived at her table, drenched in a caramel sauce and a heap of whipped cream. The set came with coffee, and while it didn’t come in a mug like her gacha toy did, it was still a pretty accurate replica. And seeing the real version and the mini replica version next to each other like this was really fun!

The pancake was deliciously fluffy, and the texture of the caramel was crunchy, just like a real crème brûlée. And despite its gargantuan size, Saya managed to clean her plate. The pancake, cream and caramel sauce were all sweet, but not too cloying. Delicious!

As Saya was basking in the success of her first gacha meal, she took a look at the leaflet that came with her Kua’Aina gacha. It showed that five different kinds of toys were available; four miniature meals, and one sign magnet. If she’d managed to pull the sign magnet in her gacha, she would have ended up walking away from Kua’Aina with an empty stomach and a broken heart. Phew! She’d really dodged a bullet there!

Saya was planning to spend the evening in Chiba, but as luck would have it, there was also a Kenele Stand in Tokyo Station where she’d just eaten lunch, so Saya decided to ‘roll’ for her dinner there before leaving. She wasn’t sure what she wanted, but after such a sweet lunch, she was in the mood for something salty.

As expected, there was a large number of miniature food gacha here too. These gacha from regional chains based all over Japan looked pretty intriguing, but it was too risky. If she ended up pulling something from Jef, she’d have to hop on a three hour flight just to get to Okinawa, where Jef restaurants are based.

Likewise, Tokyo Tom Yum Tinun looked pretty tasty, but she wasn’t sure if they would have any branches in Chiba, so she decided to pass on it this time.

Instead, she decided to go with something safer; beef bowl chain Yoshinoya, with hundreds of branches Japan-wide. There was no way there wouldn’t be a Yoshinoya nearby, wherever she was.

But as Saya was about to put her coins in, she noticed something — there were two versions of Yoshinoya gacha. In one machine, the ‘second edition’, all five toys were meals. It also included the popular Gyu Suki Nabe set, and also a take-out meal, which wasn’t ideal, but still counted as a meal.

But the other ‘first edition’ Yoshinoya machine only contained three actual meal replicas; one of the toys was a figurine of pot of ginger with a cup of sake, and another was a figurine of some frozen donburi sets to make at home. If she pulled one of those two, it would be a big problem.

The obvious choice would be to go with the safer machine, where all five of the toys were meals. But Saya somehow felt more drawn to the peril of the ‘first edition’ machine. The risk was certainly a lot higher, but if she managed to pull a meal from the risky machine, it would feel amazing! It’s just like Nintendo legend Masahiro Sakurai says; risk and reward is what makes games fun.

So Saya put 500 yen in the risky machine, turned the knob and prayed to the gacha gods.

Risky capsule in hand, she made her way to a nearby Yoshinoya, in Funabashi. She had a three-in-five chance of getting something to eat, and she was feeling pretty lucky. All that was left was to open the capsule and find out what fate had in store for her.

The pancakes she’d had for lunch were delicious and filling, but now she was ready for something salty. It was getting pretty late in the day as well, so there wouldn’t be any opportunities to ‘re-roll’ for something different at another gacha stand.

The tension was rising. Would she be eating dinner tonight?

▼ … no, as she’d managed to defy the odds and pull the frozen pork donburi bowl!

This was the absolute worst case scenario. Saya was here on vacation, so had no way of cooking the donburi pack, or even keeping it until she got home. Plus, the frozen food packs were only available at supermarkets, and weren’t even sold at Yoshinoya restaurants in the first place. All in all, an absolute disaster of a pull.

It was already around 9:00p.m. and all the capsule stands were closed, so there was no chance of rolling anything else. So Saya had to admit defeat and returned to her hotel, with two gacha toys in hand but empty stomached.

Luckily, Saya had some emergency snacks on hand, and the hotel she was staying at had a free self-service drink station, so she didn’t go to sleep completely starving, but it was a less than ideal end to her first day attempting the gacha challenge. Perhaps she’d have better luck on her second day in Tokyo.

▼ So the next day, Saya’s last in Tokyo, she headed to the Gacha Gacha no Mori at Makuhari’s Aeon shopping mall.

Makuhari technically isn’t in Tokyo, as it’s in nearby Chiba Prefecture. But so is Tokyo Disneyland, and that calls itself Tokyo Disneyland, so Saya was willing to let this small detail slide.

To Saya’s delight, the shopping mall had rows upon rows of gacha machines, and what’s more there were many food replica toys from big name restaurants, like Denny’s, Matsuya and Saizeriya!

But as her eyes scanned the rows of machines, they landed on one in particular.

▼ Another Yoshinoya machine!

This time it was the ‘second edition’ machine, where all five toys were guaranteed meals. Still hungry from her lack of dinner from the night before, Saya decided she wasn’t going to test the gacha gods’ patience anymore; she grabbed another 500 yen, put it in the slot and turned the wheel. Whatever popped out, it would definitely be edible, and she was too hungry to care about looking around at other gacha machines.

She knew there was a branch of Yoshinoya at Haneda Airport, which is where Saya would be flying home from, so she decided to have her last Tokyo gacha meal there. Having not eaten a meal since yesterday’s pancake, Saya was pretty starving, and equally excited to crack open the capsule, safe in the knowledge that she wouldn’t be burned like she was by yesterday’s Yoshinoya capsule.

What would her last meal be?

It was arguably the tastiest option available — the beef sukiyaki hotpot! What a result!

But as she was basking in the glory of finally being able to eat a proper, hearty gacha meal, she spotted something else tucked in the bottom of the capsule…

▼ …a…ladle?!

Along with her sukiyaki hot pot, Saya’s capsule also included a serving ladle, perfect for dishing up some hot pot with. While this wasn’t something she could eat, she was still pretty fortunate to find it in her capsule…

▼ …as the ladle was listed as a ‘lucky item’, and only found in a select number of capsules!

It was like the gacha gods had witnessed her struggles and misfortune in yesterday’s escapades and decided to reward her for making it through such hardship. How lucky was she?

Her heart may have been filled with joy at finding the ladle, but her stomach was still very much empty, so she raced into Yoshinoya and ordered right away.

Perhaps she was too excited, but Saya accidentally mixed up her order and got a set instead of the single hotpot, like what was depicted in her miniature figurine. But after such a tiring day yesterday, getting a little bit of rice and pickles on the side didn’t feel like such a big deal.

After nearly 24 hours without a proper meal, Saya finally managed to get stuck into a big, hearty bowl of sukiyaki, and it was easily the best sukiyaki hotpot she’d ever had. Even though it was the same sukiyaki she could get back home in rural Japan, she’d never truly appreciated how delicious it was.

Flying home from Tokyo marked the end of Saya’s challenge, but what was supposed to be just a bit of fun ended up having a much deeper, meaningful impact for her. She’d been living her life taking many things for granted, like how delicious a simple bowl of sukiyaki can be. Saya’s Tokyo Gacha Gourmet Challenge officially came to an end on a contemplative note, with our reporter learning the importance of appreciating the little things in life.

If you want to try this challenge out for yourself, there’s no better place to try than Tokyo, with its thousands of capsule toy stands dotted about the city. But for Saya, just once was enough for her, and next time she comes to Tokyo she’s eating whatever she wants, whenever she wants to.

Photos © SoraNews24
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