Man vs. Machine

In the most basic way possible, Pachinko is a gambling game that involves a machine, pegs inside the machine, and little balls that ultimately decide where your money goes: Into your pocket or into the machine.

Pachinko Sign

Like casinos, time spent in these centres guarantees a lighter wallet and sensation in your ears similar to walking out of a club after a few hours. I can only vouch for the experience of being inside a centre, but not actually playing the game. Most people I have talked to were just as intrigued as I am about the sexual advertisements, bright lights, and even Engrish signs outside the Pachinko buildings.

Pachinko Engrish

Pachinko Woman

However, lack of funds and general college life has hindered us from actually playing. But what makes these places so popular? When I think about gambling of this sort, I immediately think of Mohegan Sun, a casino in the New England area, and Las Vegas. I suppose the difference is that Pachinko is everywhere. Namco City in Osaka houses many Pachinko centres; it seemed like there was one at every entrance.

People seem to be able to nonchalantly walk in, give it a go, and go home. Whereas in casinos, people plan out vacations or short holidays just to spend time in the casino or any resort around it. The idea of sitting glaze-eyed watching little balls claim the fate of my money seems like a poor alternative to sitting at home and staring blankly at my television. Then again, if I had sufficient funds, I might be motivated to try and it makes me wonder why I would be, moreover why would the public be? I suppose the reason for me to go in would be because it is something I have never tried before, a reason that would not apply to most Japanese people. There is also the chance to become even slightly richer is a tempting offer on the horizon, a sentiment that college-aged people and older seem to feel as well when stepping into these Pachinko palaces.

Here are some follow up links if you are still eager to learn about this gambling game:

Dan Reed’s “A little about the machines, and who makes (made) them”

“Pachinko Nation” by David Plotz


October 19, 2009. Uncategorized.

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