Putting a new spin on the supermarket shop.

Gacha capsule toy machines are one of the many joys of Japan, with their clear display cases promising a world of exciting goods. The only catch is you can’t choose which item you’re going to get as the products inside are dispensed at random.

This random nature of the gacha machine is part of what gives it its appeal, though, and we’ve been known to spend big on them when the products inside are especially enticing. So when our reporter Udonko came across a machine dispensing miniature rice bags, she immediately whipped out her coin case, happy to give the machine a good number of spins in an attempt to get one of two bags that were from Niigata Prefecture, a place famous for rice that Udonko grew up in.

Rice is an everyday staple that’s also one of the heaviest things you’ll regularly buy at the supermarket, so these sturdy bags are a convenient and eye-catching way to carry the load back home. There are five varieties to collect, with four designed to carry two-kilos of rice, and one big enough for a five kilo bag.

The two that Udonko had her eye on were the ones that had “新潟” (“Niigata”) printed on them.

▼ So that’s the five-kilo bag…

…and this two-kilo “コシヒカリ” (“Koshihikari”) one.

She decided to set a limit on how many spins she would allow herself, settling on five tries, which, if she was extremely lucky, might net her all five bags. That meant her budget for this gacha splurge was 2,000 yen (US$13.81), given that each spin of the dial cost 400 yen. So let’s find out if the gacha gods smiled upon our reporter by delivering what she wanted.

▼ On her first spin, she received…

…a bag with “新米” (“shinkome” or “new rice”) printed on it!

▼ Her second capsule contained…

▼ …無洗米 (“Musenmai” or “No Wash Rice”), a pre-washed rice that doesn’t need to be washed before cooking (rice is washed before cooking in Japan).

▼ The third one contained…

▼ …新潟の米 (“Niigata no kome”), which means Niigata rice!!!!!!!!!!!!

▼ Pleased to have received one of the two bags she wanted, she moved on to the penultimate capsule…

▼ …田林米屋 (Tabayashi Komeya or “Tabayashi rice store”)

While she’d never heard of this particular rice store, Udonko didn’t mind as the bag had a cute, retro, mom-and-pop style corner shop look to it. Plus, her spins had netted her four out of the five items in the collection without any double-ups, so she was definitely on a roll.

▼ Now for the final capsule…

▼…New Rice…again!

Well, that was a disappointment. Not only did she now have two of the same bags, she narrowly missed out on collecting all five items, and didn’t get the other Niigata bag she’d been hoping for.

It may not have been a bad result, but her beloved Koshihikari was sorely missing, because that’s the variety of rice her hometown is famous for.

Still, she couldn’t complain too much, because on closer inspection, the bags had loads of gorgeous details on them. Not only were they designed to look like labels you’d find on actual bags of rice, they even included panels that put a clever spin on the usual manufacturer’s details.

On the back of the five-kilo bag, for example, was this label, which reads:

Name: Polished Rice
Name of Raw Materials: Polyester
Internal Capacity: 5 kilograms
Milling Date: (blank)
Seller: Tarlin International

Investigating further, Udonko found that the “Niigata Rice” bag above was the only one that seemed to be modelled on a bag that exists in the real world, while the others had been designed by the gacha capsule toy maker, Tarlin International.

This company name made Udonko realise that the characters “田林” on the bag below, which are usually read as “Tabayashi”, can also be read as “Ta” and “Rin”, which, when pronounced together, sounds like “Tarlin”.

This was a fun way to sneak the name of the gacha manufacturers into a rice bag, and all the designs were so good she couldn’t pick a favourite.

With such a variety of eye-catching bags now in her possession it made her excited to buy rice. Being able to choose a bag to match her mood on shopping day makes a menial task more enjoyable, and it’ll no doubt be a conversation starter with staff at the store.

Practical, strong and good-looking, these are bags for life that’ll get plenty of use, and Udonko is looking forward to using them on a regular basis, while wearing a gacha toy Casio watch ring.

Update: Udonko eventually received her longed-for Niigata rice bag when she asked a friend to try the machine on her behalf. So now she happily owns all the bags in the collection! 

Related: Tarlin
Photos © SoraNews24
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