Me: Hey Japan. What’s pachinko?

Japan: Pachinko? It’s a pinball arcade game slot machine.

Me: What’s the aim of the game?

Japan: To collect balls.

Me: Collect balls?

Japan: Yeah.

Me: Why do you collect balls on a pinball arcade game slot machine?

Japan: Because the more balls you collect the more money you win.

Me: And that’s it.

Japan: Yeah, pretty much. You control the speed that the pinballs are fired up to the top of the machine and then they fall through some pins and if enough balls fall through the correct pins you win some money.

Me: And where do people play this simple pinball collecting, money winning, arcade game slot machine.

Japan: In pachinko parlours.

Me: They have specific buildings for this?

Japan: Oh yeah. I’ve got loads of giant massive places filled with row after row of these pinball contraptions.

Me: And this is popular?

Japan: Well, not massively. Why would it be popular?

Me: Because there’s loads of giant massive places filled with row after row of these pinball contraptions.

Japan: Yeah, but they’re also filled with the non-stop excessive sound effects and blinding levels of flashing lights and cancer inducing levels of cigarette smoke choking the air, all of which dampens your senses to levels similar to that of a terrorist interrogation. If you ever go i recommend wearing sunglasses, earplugs and a facemask.

Me: I don’t get it. If it that’s horrible and it’s not massively popular how come there are loads of pachinko parlours?

Japan: Well, money.

Me: Money?

Japan: Yeah, they make money from the players. They don’t always win. Actually, they normally loose. It’s gambling. The pachinko parlours make a fortune out of a minority of pachinko gambling addicts.

Me: Why don’t they just gamble on something else?

Japan: They can.

Me: What?

Japan: Horse racing on Saturdays and Sundays, specific cycling events and small speedboat racing, all of which may or may not be fixed.

Me: And that’s it?

Japan: Yes.

Me: No casinos or bookmakers?

Japan: Nope.

Me: So, if you fancy a bit of a wager or you’re up to your eyeballs in gambling addiction the only way you can get your kicks is by watching rigged horse, bicycle or speedboat races or by sitting in half empty pachinko parlours with a load of other social dropouts being subjected to ear bleeding, retina killing, respiration ending conditions for hours at a time whilst losing money, all of which seems like just as much of a social punishment as a social problem.

Japan: Yep.

Me: You evil genius.

Japan: Cheers.


June 25, 2012. Tags: , , . Uncategorized.


  1. Chris Billingham (@yobrenoops) replied:

    Seriously confuses me, each time I see one I think “YEAH AN ARCADE!” only to be disappointed by the semi-corpse like people I see through the doors.

  2. caseykurlander replied:

    I love it! Japan was the most amazingly weird place I have ever been. Totally worth the 21 hour solo flight around the world and $4,000 credit card debt that took almost a year to pay off (I underestimated the value of the yen vs. the U.S. dollar- oops). I just wrote an entry of some of my favorite things about Japan last summer. Here is the link if you want to check it out:


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