PACHINKO PARLORS, Tokyo
Since Japanese cannot enjoy gambling in casinos due to government regulations, they have pachinko parlors as a solution. There are many game machines here and you are awarded with small pinballs which you can get some toys if you collect a big amount. Some people spend a full day here playing nonstop. For smokers it is a heaven as smoking is not prohibited inside pachinko parlors. Most of these places are very noisy and full of smoke, but still they attract many people for different reasons.
Pachinko aka how to lose lots of money fast. What you basicly do is feed you money into the machine, turn a handle, a load of little pinballs go flying around, they all drop into the botom and you lose them all. If you are lucky one or two might be caught by different holes in the board and you win them. You can put them back into the machine or exchange them for prizes.
Brightly lit pachinko parlours are found all over Tokyo. Inside their loud & somewhat smoky interior, you’ll find rows of people (mainly men) sitting fixated in front of machines as they play with their balls.
The machines are a cross between a pinball machine & a slot machine.
To play the game, you insert money into the machine to get a credit of the steel balls. The aim of the game is to have the balls fall from the top of the machine into special holes at the bottom. The balls seem to fall like an endless stream of water, which sets the player into somekind of hypnotic trance. The balls then bounce around a network of nails as they do so, and it is purely by chance whether they fall into those holes – most don’t. When they do, you’ll get a bonus of more balls to play with plus it activates the slot machine feature & three identical pictures will give you even more balls.
If you win balls, you can exchange them into goods that are available at the parlour. But as gambling is illegal in Japan, you can only exchange those goods for cash at a "secret" location outside, away from the parlour. (darn if I know where to make the exchange!)
I popped in to have a look around and was momentarilly mersmerized by the smoke, noise and lights reflecting of the steel balls. Came to my senses a few minutes later, and so no, I didn't actually stop to play ball!
Cont'd from above
The term Pachinko is derived from the Japanese word pachi-pachi, meaning the clicking of small objects or the crackling of fire. While the origins of pachinko are unknown, it most likely descended from the "Coringth Game" which originated in Chicago, USA. The game appeared in Japan in the early 1920's, and the first Pachinko hall was opened in the Osaka Prefecture. Takeichi Masamura is known as the founder of today's pachinko for he developed the "Masamura Gauge", an arrangement of nails that became the basis for most of today's pachinko machines. In the 1980's pachinko machines became computerized and now have sounds and graphics that make the game more exciting.
Pachinko is similar to pinball in that small 11mm steel balls are shot onto the playing surface where they haphazardly bounce around and through a network of nails. The object of the game is to have the balls directed into winning pockets, whereby you receive more balls that equate to a prize or a monetary amount. The pachinko player is only responsible for controlling the speed by which the pachinko balls are shot onto the playing surface, from then on it basically becomes a game of chance.
To initiate play you insert money to purchase a number of balls that are dropped into a loading area. By pulling the handle-like knob, one ball is released and projected by a spring. Most of the balls will fall unsuccessfully through the pins to the bottom, but some will fall into special pockets that activate a slot machine. At this point you are instantly rewarded with a set number of balls, and if the same three symbols match up on the reels, you win an even greater amount. After a session of that, you'd end up with trays full of balls where you'll have to 'exchange' them back for money.
Here's the catch. You can't exchange them at the outlet you played. You'll need to ask the workers there where is the changing booth. It's something to do with the gambling laws in Japan. Weird, but the system works great!
Now, when I used to work there, this was the biggest thing Japanese people were hooked on to. People used to spend hours and hours playing this game, I wonder if it's still the same now. I used to spend hours at the Pachinko Parlours on these machines that churned out little ball barings with the control of your hand.
More info in next tip.
One of the many Pachinko parlors. It's something to see people playing with many baskets of ball bearings piled behind them that they have won, and the noise emanating from the machines. They trade the balls in for prizes.