Pachinko – A Bizarre Gambling Game From Japan?

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Pachinko – A Bizarre Gambling Game From Japan?

Japan. The land of sushi, judo, anime, millions of soda machines, trains that run on time and where women don’t shave! Need we say more? Yes, we do! The game of chance Pachinko. Recently, this game gained popularity among non GamStop slots players after Evolution Gaming re-introduced it in a wonderful live game, Crazy Time, which offers profits of up to 10,000x the bet amount.

What Is Pachinko?

Have you ever heard of Pachinko? At least I didn’t until I came across a video a few weeks ago. Here dozens of Japanese are sitting in a hall full of smoke and noise. In front of a device with hundreds of iron balls next to it.

Even though this was the umpteenth movie from Japan with high WTF content, I wanted to know a little more about it. That’s why I went to investigate. And what I have found is beyond all vaginal ping-pong balls!

Japanese – Will We Ever Understand Them?

Every time I read something about Japan I always think: ‘Hey, there you have those crazy Japanese again’. If it’s not the bizarre fantasies they have, it is the strange television shows with dozens of sound effects.

And loud laughter or films that show that a Japanese can always do something better and faster than we do.

Television Shows

It seems as if they live in a completely different world that we cannot understand. But most of all just don’t understand. Because let’s be honest: why the hell would you slide a top with a screw-up your anus on a television show. And why do people laugh about that?

The same applies to the game Pachinko: a game in which tens of billions of euros are involved every year. And which we Westerners know absolutely nothing about and will probably fully understand.

What Is Pachinko?

The game Pachinko comes from Japan and can be compared to a pinball machine that stands upright, but without flippers. To play the game you need many hundreds of small iron balls. these are fired softly or hard with an adjustable knob.

The balls then shoot up and end up in a field with iron pegs. These ensure that each ball follows a different route to fall back down.

Lots of Bells and Whistles

There are hundreds of different Pachinko machines, each with its own (anime) theme. One is even more beautiful, louder and more colourful than the other. For example, you have Pokemon and Star Wars machines with lots of visual and sound effects. But also vintage machines that are decades old.

Often games are played in Pachinko arcades where dozens of machines are set up. The name Pachinko comes from ‘pachin’ and that is derived from the sound you hear when the iron ball hits a peg.

How Does the Game Pachinko Work?

You start by buying iron balls, because without them you can’t play the game. You can buy these at a counter or at the machine itself by putting money into it.

The prices per ball vary considerably per arcade, but usually, 100 balls cost about 100 to 400 yen, which is converted between € 0.75 and € 3.00.

Then, you throw the balls into the box under the playing field. And by turning the knob on the right side, the balls shoot up. Easy as that!

The Objective of the Game

Even though there are so many different Pachinko machines, each machine has the same purpose. The player must make sure that as many balls as possible fall into a hole in the middle. If successful, a bonus or mini-game will start and different symbols will be spinned, just like in a regular slot machine.

The only difference is that the Pachinko machines produce loud noises and crazy animations that we don’t understand at all. When you get three symbols in a row you can win hundreds or even thousands of iron balls.

By the way, during this bonus game, you can continue shooting the other balls, but you have to be careful. The machine registers up to 4 balls at the same time that fall into the middle hole when you are playing a bonus game.

You can follow the number on the machine and it is therefore smart to stop shooting for a while when the machine indicates that you are at 4. Because if you go over it, they don’t count.

Exchange Iron Balls for Prizes or Money

When you’re done playing and you want to exchange the iron balls, you have to put in some effort. Playing Pachinko for money is illegal in Japan, but the operators have come up with something for that.

By making the X symbol with your arms, you indicate that you are ready and an employee will come to you and put all the balls in a counting machine. In exchange, you will receive a special token, and with this token, you will then go to a shop close to Pachinko Hall. But it’s not officially part of that.

You can exchange the tokens for money (87% do this), but you can also buy prizes such as cigarettes, electronic devices and food.

Incredibly Popular

Pachinko was played in Japan as early as the 1920s. After the end of World War II, the game became more and more popular with adults and has grown tremendously over the years.

The stereotype of old and smoking men playing for hours is all but gone. Some arcades are even aimed entirely at young people or women. The Pachinko machines themselves have also gone through an evolution.

€170 billion Turnovers Per Year

There are currently no fewer than 12,500 Pachinko halls in Japan and a turnover of about 170 billion euros per year. Collectively, the halls are said to make four times more profit than the entire legal casino business in the world put together. Can you imagine? Not me!


But why is the game so popular? you may wonder. In Japan, the Pachinko game is seen as a pastime. You can play for a long time with your balls and the machines are so addictive and hypnotic that you forget all your problems and you get away from reality for a while.