Pachinko (パチンコ) is the Japanese equivalent of pokies in Australia or slot machines in the USA. Pachinko machines are played by launching a small ball-bearing sized ball in a manner similar to pinball machines. A player can control the speed of the launch, but after this it is all chance.

Pachinko poster advertisement in Okayama

Pachinko advertisement
Pachinko advertisement outside the venue in Okayama.

Having a previous career in advertising, I really started to wonder if there are any laws similar to the Trade Practices Act of Australia which restrict what you can and cannot say. I read this sign while laughing very hard, before finding out it was for a Pachinko parlor!

What do you think of the poster text? Would you think the poster is about a gambling venue?

The Pachinko machines are inside the Pachinko parlor in Osaka

Pachinko machines inside a pachinko parlor
Pachinko, looking at the inside from the street in Osaka.

To be honest, I didn’t walk into a Pachinko parlor. I’ve seen enough from the streets and even more in Japanese movies. From the street, it sounded like a bunch of teenage girls were screaming at a hard-dance rave. Inside sat mostly old people…

Have you experienced pachinko? What is it like and what type of things can you win?

Pachinko parlors are inside Namba Hips
The Namba Hips building in Osaka.

Pachinko parlors are found everywhere, from small room in side-alleys, large rooms with a street front, to the huge multi-floor parlors that can be found in places like Namba Hips in Osaka. The Namba Hips building (above) consists of 7 floors and most of them are for Pachinko.