Monday, April 23, 2007


Yesterday, Satoshi and I were on the hunt for a DVD player. At one electronics store, we had to actually pass through a pachinko parlor in order to get up to the store (what a marketing tactic!)

What is pachinko? It is a form of gambling. In Japan, they have several different forms of gambling, from horse races to lotteries. The pachinko machines look like up-right pinball machines, but they also have slot machines built in. These machines are apparently called pachi-slo (pachinko + slot). According to Satoshi (because I have never played), you put your money into the machine and these tiny silver ball bearings appear. You feed them into the machine with your left hand and your right hand controls the "flippers".

On my way to the market, I sometimes walk past these pachinko parlors and you should see the line of people! (Doesn't anyone have to work? Or maybe that is their job?) When travelling around Japan there aren't many places that do not have these pachinko parlors. Anyway, if you fill up enough containers with ball bearings, you can trade them in for prizes like toilet paper or other everyday items or you can receive a marker that can be traded for $$ from a secret location.

I don't know how these people can stand being in these parlors for very long though, it is very loud and noisy. Not only do the machines make noises, but the ball bearings do too while flying around on the pins. And if you hit the jackpot, there are flashing lights and lots of ball bearings that come out of the machine. Plus, it is super smoky! Talk about 2nd hand smoke! Blah! But, I guess these people didn't seem to mind. Some people are so hooked on pachinko that they forgo all of their other responsibilities. Like once, a father left his child in the car while he went in to play, this was during the day, so the car that his child was waiting in got really hot and the child died because of heat exhaustion! Several times a year in Japan, there are similar incidents like this. Very sad!

Still, it is something to experience.

Hope you have a great week.


Anonymous said...


You've summarized how I feel about casinos in general. I have never understood how people can pass the time at slot machines. I mean it may be fun to go once a year for a kick, but to do it everyday?!

Journal Actif said...

Is smoking still allowed in public spaces in Japan ? It won't be long I think before it becomes illegal.

The noise and light is part of what triggers game pathology. It's really serious, letting a child die of heat and dehydration in a car while playing is extreme. It makes me wonder if the parent should be in psychiatric care or in prison for life.

Public health authorities try (all around the world) to help people with game pathology. But as long as games are easily accessible, particularly the electronic, cheap ones, it cannot work. What you describe here is appaling!

K and S said...

I don't understand what is so fun about sitting in a casino/pachinko parlor for the whole day either, Ivonne. I think if I had $$ to burn, I would be on a trip or having a nice lunch somewhere.

Yes, Zoubida, unfortunately smoking is still allowed in most public spaces. In fact, there are many cafes/restaurants that have smoking and non-smoking sections right next to each other. I think there are lot of problems in Japan, but there aren't many willing to take responsibility or steps to try to change things.

Take care you two!


Anonymous said...

Acck...sitting in front of a game all day...bleh! But it's the 2nd hand smoke that would have bothered me the most. Pee-uw!

K and S said...

The 2nd hand smoke is the worst, Rowena!

Take care!


IamJacksBrain said...

Pachinko parlors are very similar to old school Vegas casinos. It would take more than money to make me spend time in either.

Doolally said...

I enjoy a game of poker and also like to play casino once in a while. It's a form or entertainment that's good fun. I'd like a try of pachinko as well and would probably go there if I was in Japan. Where's the harm? Ok, maybe the smoke but it's not the end of the world.

People should be allowed to do what they please (within reason) without others critizing.

K and S said...

And you are allowed your say, Doolally, too. Thanks for stopping by.

Take care.