You’ve heard of pachinko. You know about game centres. You’ve seen people scooping up goldfish and coloured balls at summer festivals.
There’s another way for gamblers of all ages to legally test their luck. Not the ‘real’ Japanese lottery – something a bit different.
Gambling’s for everyone with Ichiban Kuji
Ichiban Kuji is run by Banpresto, the makers/distributors of a huge range of Japanese character merch.
Competitions are typically themed around a popular anime, game, or brand. Upcoming lotteries: Pokemon, Cardcaptor Sakura, Haikyuu!!, Disney, fate/Grand Order, Tiger & Bunny, and Girls und Panzer.
Prizes are ranked according to how ‘good’ or rare they are. The top items are usually S-rank or A-rank, going down to F, G, or maybe H. Don’t be surprised to see ‘rubber keyring’ as the final option every time. Lotteries run until all prizes have been won – that could be for weeks, days, or even hours.
If you’d rather just buy, you’ve got options: check Yahoo! Auctions to see if anyone’s selling… or order from Banpresto on Amazon. Yup, these prizes aren’t exclusive to the lottery. The online prices are jacked up, so you’ll be more inclined to test your luck instead.
Here’s how it works:
- Go into a participating store.
- Find the lottery display.
- Take an entry ticket from the box.
- Pay at the counter.
- Rummage around for a lucky ticket in the next box they give you.
Simple, accessible, and highly addictive.
It’s too dangerous to go alone, win this!
We gave the ‘The Legend of Zelda‘ lottery a go.
(Confession: we wanted to do the Osomatsu-san kuji as well. The store we went to, the day after that lottery started, had been cleaned out. Not so much as a promo poster remained. So that was a bust.)
There were 7 prize levels, a ‘last one’ prize and a ‘double chance’. Most of the items are from the new ‘Hyrule Lifestyle’ collection.
To win the ‘last one’ alarm clock, you have to buy the final ticket in the store you visit. Or, you can find and order the clock online, which kinda defeats the point. But if you want to be woken up by Zelda herself, it could be totally worth it.
‘Double chance’ gives you a code to submit online for an extra draw.
Not gonna lie, we were gunning for that B-rank prize: an umbrella shaped like the Master Sword. Banpresto’s selling it on their Amazon Japan store for more than the cost of 10 lottery tickets. Doing that makes buying 9 tickets look like better value – how sneaky.
Some of the other items looked cool, too. The great thing about the ‘Hyrule Lifestyle’ range is that everything’s designed to be practical. Stuff you’d actually use if you won it, not just keep on display.
It’s (not) a secret to everybody
This lottery was running at select 7-11 convenience stores, bookstores, hobby shops, and game arcades. We chose a small 7-11 outside a small train station. Spotted the Zelda display as soon as we walked in. It was the closest thing to the door, so…
In a bigger space, we might’ve missed it. The display was tiny, and the shelf wasn’t holding too many prizes at that point. No umbrella in sight. You can get a better idea of just how big that (C-rank) heart-shaped plate really is.
At 620 yen a pop, we weren’t gonna splash out. One chance. One ticket. One prize.
So, what did we win?
The ticket back peeled off to reveal… a big fat F. Great. Grumble, grumble.
We can’t even show you that F, because the store keeps the lettered tickets to keep track of how many are left.
F-rank meant we were getting a mini ‘Breath of the Wild‘ glass. Of the 5 original designs, there were 3 left to choose from. Each box showed which design was inside, which took the randomness out of it. The coolest pair – the Triforce design and the ‘Z’ with a sword through it – had been snapped up. We could’ve bought the complete set from Amazon for a little over the price of 4 tickets.
Our pick was the glass with Link’s ‘serious arrow shooting face’ on the front. It’s the same pose as the one on the poster behind the shelf. They couldn’t fit the whole arrow on the glass, though, too wide.
And here’s a better image of the glass than we could ever take ourselves:
We’re not sure when we should give another Ichiban Kuji a go. The Pokemon plushies look cute, and there’s another umbrella in the Sakura kuji. Maybe we’ll be tempted to go back at some point.
Lucky for you, if you’re outside Japan you can order Banpresto items from our website.