Thursday, 6 January 2011


Photo by Kyoto Scenes

Pachinko (パチンコ) is perhaps best described as a cross between a fruit/slot machine and an upright pinball table. Players take control of a dial which controls the speed of release of metal balls, which in turn trigger slot machine-like bonuses and other events, which can win more metal balls. Trays of balls are traded for prizes, and prizes are then traded for cash at a nearby, related business. This is because gambling is illegal in Japan, so money can't be handed over for winnings. Therefore the prizes that are given instead are usually mere tokens rather than objects of any real intrinsic value. It's all rather clever, really.

The game itself is hard to master, and seems rather random. Or maybe that's just us...

Tokyo's teeming with pachinko parlours and before opening time at 10am, afficionados can be seen queuing down the street in the hope of getting their favourite or lucky machine.

Pachinko is so ubiquitous in Japan it almost always gets a bit part in any films shot in Tokyo, including Lost in Translation and Kamikaze Girls - which features the panchinko parlour ganster 'unicorn' Ryuji and his rather wonderful hair!

photo from: Hideous Sunday


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