are hard to miss; beacons to the people; neon
lights in mesmerizing combinations that would
make a drag queen envious; structures that appear
to have been formed by the immense tectonic
activity responsible for the mountainous Japanese
landscape. These are the pachinko parlours,
places drawing people from every part of society
and age bracket and bathing them in a sea of
loud colours and louder sounds.
basically an upright pinball machine, has its
origins 85 years ago. ‘The Corinthian
Game’, created in America, made its first
appearance in Japan in 1924. The first Japanese
machine ever made was called ‘Masamura
Gage’. Made 56 years ago by Nagoya based
Masamura Company, Masamura Age was merely made
up of nails driven into a wooden backing board,
allowing the pachinko ball bearings to run through
the spaces and fall into specific holes. Much
like the machines of today, the direction the
balls took and subsequently which hole they
ended up in depended on how each ball struck
the nails. Unlike the machines of today, this
was determined, by a spring loaded ram used
by the player to fire the balls into the main
area of the pachinko game.
the 1980’s a new type of system was introduced.
Popularized as ‘fever’, pachinko
companies developed a higher payoff system for
players, increasing the size of the jackpots
which automatically increased people’s
interest (and hence spending) in pachinko. Today’s
pachinko machines are a far cry from those half
a century ago with a vast number of improvements
made and steps in ‘pachinko evolution’
taken. Cutting edge gaming technology, high
resolution LCD displays, and a plethora of choices
greet today’s pachinko player.
the current popularity of pachinko, the industry
has seen some lean years. In fact, pachinko
almost didn’t make it past the Second
World War as legislature made it illegal during
the national crisis. Luckily, after the war,
reforms were made and pachinko parlours could
once again open their doors to the public. What’s
more, the introduction of slot machines and
new systems focusing on ‘high risk, high
return’ strategies have increased pachinko’s
appeal, with the industry experiencing an unprecedented
explosion in popularity. The ever-expanding
group of pachinko diehards even includes professional
pachinko players or people whom have become
known as ‘Pachi-pro’. Their salary
depends on how well they do every time they
hit the floor of their local parlour.
why are people so absorbed in pachinko?
local pachinko owner indicated 3 reasons people
1. To kill time.
2. To earn money.
3. To enjoy themselves until they hit the jackpot.
He went on to say that people have fallen in
love with the idea that they can make money
while killing time. The owners of these parlours
are also paying closer attention to the presentation
of their product and are making sure people
can play in clean and tidy conditions, adding
to overall enjoyment.
for pachinko: take note of the amount of money
required to play each machine. Recently, machines
that require a lot of money to get the balls
rolling have been on the increase.
You might also want to consider taking along
some ear plugs. Pachinko parlours are noisy
and if you are considering staying a long time
you will be exposed to a significant amount
of bells, rings and high tempo dance music.
luck with your pachinko experience and if you
have any requests or comments about the king
of Japanese popular entertainment let us know
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