Culture Note: Pachinko

Today, we are going to take a look at Japanese pinball machines! Known as pachinko, these machines have small balls that you aim and fire into certain holes in order to win money. Pachinko parlors are full of people playing in the hopes of winning. If you wish to play, you buy the balls at the entrance and sit at the machine and try your luck. Even though gambling is illegal in Japan, the parlors get around this through a legal loophole. If you have more balls at the end than when you started (meaning you won), you do not exchange them for cash, but usually for some object like a cuddly toy instead. Then you take your toy to another location like a back street near the parlor, where you exchange the toy for cash.

For those who want to know how to play, check out this video:

What do you think about Japanese pinball machines? Look interesting?

Pachinko Parlor in Akihabara – Image from


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