Play Ichiban Kuji: A Win-Win Game of Fun Prizes!

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  • Have you came across the word Ichiban Kuji, usually written in the following Japanese character 一番くじ? Have you seen cute items on display at the racks of game centers, bookstores or even convenience shops with respective alphabet letters (e.g. A to G) labeled on them? Ichiban Kuji is actually a lottery game and the main company in charge of this game is Banpresto. Whenever a new Ichiban Kuji theme/item is released, there are usually a queue early in the morning, particularly in areas such as the anime town, Denden (Osaka) as one would want to have the “highest” chance of getting the main prize (usually the A-C items) while they are still available. However, since these special items are the ones with the least amount, one would really have to count their luck to dish out the particular lottery card.

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    So, ready to play Ichiban Kuji? The concept is actually not too difficult. Basically, the amount you need to pay will depend on how many tries you want to attempt the lottery. The more you try, the probability of getting the prize you want will of course be higher. In my last Ichiban Kuji attempt for the Pikachu lottery, it cost 620 yen per attempt. I was attracted to all the items available so I attempted 8 times (p.s. there were other people attempting more than me). The main attraction was the 30cm Pikachu plush in his sleeping bag (so kawaii) and I was hoping to get that. Unfortunately, all my 8 attempts failed and all I managed to “win” were some Pikachu handkerchieves and socks.

    So, let me explain the playing process a bit more. Firstly, you have to pay for the amount of attempts. After paying, the staff-in-charge will bring out a box which contains the lottery cards. From there, you take out the number of lottery cards you had paid for. For example in my situation, I took out 8 cards from the box since I paid for 8 attempts. Next, you tear out the front part of the card, where an alphabet letter (e.g. A, B, etc) would be revealed. The staff will pack and hand you the items accordingly to what was shown on the cards. The staff will then keep the “alphabet” card and return the other portion of the card to you (shown in the picture). On this card, there will be a code which you can use to attempt the second lottery session (double chance lottery, also written as ダブルチャンス), which would be done online, using your handphone. First, scan the “QR mark” shown on the card using your handphones. You will be shown a website where you should first register to be a user. Be warned that all the information on the website will be in Japanese (Sweat!). Once registered as a member, you would be able to sign into the link and you can then enter the code shown on the card. All the best. I tried all 8 codes from my lottery cards but failed to win anything.

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    Author’s photo

    I am sure everyone has their own favourite characters, thus you will only be interested in the prizes that are related to them. Thus, it is important that we know the schedule of the Ichiban Kuji. There are two methods to obtain the information:

    • The first one would be the easiest, just go to the respective stores such as game centers and bookstores where they have posters or advertisement of “items that will be releasing the following month” displayed somewhere close to their counters (picture below). I have never seen this type of Ichiban Kuji posters on display in convenience shops, so probably it is not so common.
    • The second method is accessing the website of Banpresto*Automatic translation. However, one trouble that non-Japanese might have is that the information on the site is all displayed in Japanese. For me, I usually use “Google Translate” to help me understand the information better. Banzai!

    Lastly, most of the times, there will be an exclusive prize (written as ラストワン賞) for the last card purchased. Even if the main prizes are gone, why not continue playing and aim for the last exclusive prize?
    So, why not try your luck and join the craze of Ichiban Kuji?

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