With gambling illegal in Japan many Japanese people often find alternative ways to have fun. Besides the obvious solution of gambling at an online casino, many Japanese people play the game Pachinko 「パチンコ」. But what is Pachinko and why is the game popular with tourists?

What is pachinko?

The game is simple and is in a way comparable to roulette. Played on a vertical board as opposed to a horizontal roulette board, a small ball will be brought into play and the position in which it lands will decide on your pay-out. Getting started is just like in a casino – the player exchanges money for chips (or in this case balls). These balls are then fed into the machine one at a time. Unlike roulette, the player has control over the speed of the ball and has more of an impact on the game.

Pachinko & Slots at Fujioka (north Toyota) Japan

Usually in the morning there is a line of people waiting to get in, but it’s winter now so they’re not out so early.

Once the ball is fired then the fun begins. With the course full of pins and gates the ball pings around all over the place. More often than not the ball will end up in the hole at the bottom of the machine and the player will loose. However if the ball passes through a gate on the way down then you will be rewarded with more balls, if you manage to get it through the jackpot gate then you will see a ‘slot’ like game unfold for the chance to win a big prize!

If gambling is illegal in Japan, why is Pachinko allowed?

Of course with gambling being illegal in Japan, the Pachinko parlors can not actually pay out cash prizes. However they have developed a clever way around this. Any balls that you have won can be traded for a prize – the more balls the bigger the prize – this prize can then be swapped for money (or other items like cigarettes, clothing and more) at an exchange center. The exchange center is usually a tiny building that is next to, but not connected to, the Pachink parlor. This way the player still gets a cash prize and technically no cash prizes have been paid out.

If you are planning on travelling to Japan soon and are used to playing on sites like GamingClub.com/NZ online casino then you may well fancy trying your hand at Pachinko. With plenty of parlors dotted around you’re sure to find one somewhere.