The holidays can be a stressful time. Let’s face it, Christmas shopping for friends and family can be a hassle: long lines, many shops, crowds, traffic, online delivery waiting. Well, Ho! Ho! Ho! In the most crowded city in the world, there’s a cheapo solution to bring cheer to all—and have a lot of extra time to watch more streaming video on the internet.

Surprise! It’s a vending machine — a Christmas present vending machine!

Watch the video here for all the details in glorious HiDef:

Take a inside look at these spectacular machines and watch me give these vending machine presents to my friends. Their reactions are priceless.

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So, what about these vending machines?

They’re not actually Christmas present vending machines per se, but they do disperse packaged goods with an estimated value of $10 or more. Each machine takes a 1,000 yen note.

christmas present vending machine tokyo
Photo by John Daub

I’t’s called the King’s Treasure Box (王様の宝箱) and you can find them in over 650 locations around Tokyo—and what’s inside may surprise you!

Nakajima-san, the creator of these machines and CEO gave me an inside look at how it works—and all that secret treasure inside!

christmas present vending machine tokyo
Photo by John Daub

Okay. Okay. I know it’s lazy to shop for friends at a vending machine. I mean, it’s the thought that counts, right? But there are advantages to shopping at vending machines.

Why shop at a vending machine?

christmas present vending machine tokyo
Oh, and it’s super fun! | Photo by John Daub

The history

Nakajima-san told me he made these machines because he is crazy about Gachapon, the capsule toy machines all over Akihabara and now the whole city of Tokyo. He loved them so much that he wanted a 24-hour solution for his habit. See, normal Gachapon machines are made of plastic and lack security so they are taken off the streets and locked away when the store closes. This means he can’t play Gachapon after 8pm!

Like any good inventor, his passion led him to this.

christmas present vending machine tokyo
Photo by John Daub

These machines are recycled book vending machine. Before he created these machines, Nakajima-san’s job was leasing vending machines to customers and when the book vending machine leases were up, he had them all returned. It seems no one wanted to buy books from them anymore. (Thanks a lot smart phone!) He could either send them in for scrap or recycle them. The rest is history—but I’ll give you the details anyway.

He turned them into package dispensers, the first one in Itabashi where he worked. He made it purely for his one enjoyment. Of course that means he was constantly teased and made fun of by his friends, but I think it’s Nakajima-san who has the last laugh.

christmas present vending machine tokyo
Photo by John Daub

He runs 650 of them now, each one capable of bringing is 50,000 yen! You do the math. It’s not chump change anymore.

What’s inside?

christmas present vending machine tokyo

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christmas present vending machine tokyo
Photo by John Daub

There are 50 slots. The products are chosen by Nakajima-san, mostly stuff that he is interested in. Here’s what I saw in the video on the racks inside the machine.

  • Nintendo DS (the main prize!)
  • Walkie-talkie watch set
  • LED light audio glasses
  • T-shirt with a mini speaker that plays a guitar
  • Battery chargers for smart phones
  • iPhone lens
  • And much much more!

Why is it only 1,000 yen?

Since he buys in bulk and many toy and product makers want their goods featured in these machines, he gets great discounts and that allows you to get items valued at 1,000 yen or more.

Sometimes less. It’s sort of luck. The most valuable is a Nintendo DS!

So, if you are still looking for that last minute gift or it’s December 24th and all the stores are closed, do not panic. There’s a solution and it’s actually pretty awesome!

Where to find one?

The machine I visited is in Akihabara (next to the KFC under the train overpass). See below for a map.

Or see here for a map to every 1,000-yen “King’s Treasure Box” vending machine around Tokyo.

And for more vids from Only in Japan:

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