Japan Diaries Day 16 – Pachinko Slot/パチスロ


Halfway through my one-month trip to Japan in December, my fiance and I decided to give Pachinko Slot a try.



On Saturday we woke up to a lot of rain, and after a week spent traveling to Hakone and taking wedding photos, my fiance and I spent the morning watching movies we rented from Tsutaya and generally being lazy. When we finally couldn’t stand being indoors any longer, my fiance suggested we go to a Pachinko Slot game center called Million.

What is pachinko?

Pachinko games (パチンコ) look like vertical pinball machines, with a lot of small metal balls going through at one time. You exchange money for these balls and release them into the machine, and they fall down while being redirected by a bunch of pins. The idea is to capture as many balls as possible, and if you catch balls in the right place you can get a rush, which releases more balls. Pachinko machines are electronically controlled.

What is pachinko slot?

There are also slot machines, pachinko slot or pachislo (パチスロ) which are electronic, and similar to those seen at casinos in the US. You exchange money for medals, then insert the medals into the slot machine. Then you pull the knob to start the slots turning. You have buttons underneath the slot to pick when you want it to stop. That’s pretty much like Las Vegas casinos. Above the slots there is a video screen with an animated story related to whichever theme you’ve picked. My fiancé picked Tekken, and I took the Batman machine next to him. There are certain cues from the animated story that’s going on above the slots that tell you when you have a chance for a rush, and I still am pretty clueless about when the hints come up.

My fiancé sat next to me and multitasked, playing my game when I got rush opportunities, and playing his own. We didn’t want the staff to think we were doing anything weird, so we switched spots off and on when he was doing the important work to get the rush. I got to play during the rush which was exciting and ego-boosting, because it tells you which slot button to stop first and gives you bonuses without much skill. However, the Batman rush lasted hours because it gave me like 500 slot pulls and I kept getting more bonus games. While he finished off the rush, I played the Basilisk machine next door and kept getting mini rushes.

Pachinko slot machines at a Million arcade - photo by kei

Our pachinko slot machines at a Million arcade – photo by kei

When you win a number of balls or medals, you have to take them to an employee who will count them through a machine and give you a ticket with the value of your medals or balls. You can take this to the game center’s prize store and redeem it for anything from a stick of beef jerky (which we got since we were hungry at the end) to a rice cooker (which we did not have enough credit for). The remainder can be taken out to a separate stall outside the parlor to exchange for cash. Gambling is illegal in Japan, so to circumvent gambling restrictions you have to go through this ticket-to-cash exchange at a separate location.

The atmosphere is very much like a Las Vegas casino. The machines are crowded into a few large rooms, and it is deafeningly loud with the sound of metal balls and the air is pretty thick with cigarette smoke, despite the ventilation. My fiance used to work at a pachinko slot part time, and one of his friends works at the Million we went to, so he wanted to show me what pachislot was all about. Since I had never even been to a pachinko parlor before, it took a while for me to figure out what was going on. (Even now, I would still be pressing buttons and hoping for the best if I played again.)

I enjoyed the experience overall, but I have to admit it was pretty exhausting! During a rush you have to constantly react to the onscreen instructions and push the buttons in a certain order, while following the storyline and being surrounded by the dull rush of noise and sounds. If you like to gamble I can see how it would be addicting.

Pachinko Slot

¥2 pachinko slot machines at Million – photo by kei

We used the cheaper slots, that start from ¥2, because that way our losses basically evened out with our gains. You can go for the higher start price games, which have a chance of a higher reward, but since the games are electronically controlled, apparently they are designed for the house to always come out on top, and there’s no real way to win. So I suggest the ¥2 slots! We spent and won about ¥4000 ($33) and entertained ourselves on a rainy night.

Have you ever played pachinko slot? How did you do? How about other unique parlor games?

Next Up: Japan Diaries Day 17 – A Japanese Apartment

Japan Diaries 2014

3 thoughts on “Japan Diaries Day 16 – Pachinko Slot/パチスロ

  1. Thank you for explaining the Pachinko! We haven’t tried them yet, I’m guessing it would be pretty difficult if you don’t know the language since it sounds like there are a lot of instructions during the games. I may give it a try once before we leave Japan but I would bring my Japanese friend with me I think.

    They are so loud just passing by them so I can’t imagine the noise level inside. I love the large floral arrangements they usually have in front of the building. They really try to make the building attractive and energetic to walk by/into.


    • The pachinko game centers are very exciting! And very noisy. It’s really sensory overload, and when you are staring at the shiny machines the time really flies by. I was surprised at how many hours we had been there, and it seemed like nothing.

      For the most part, I just pushed the buttons, left to right, and fed the coins at a slow pace because I thought I would spend less money that way. But when the rush comes, it could take ages if you don’t go quickly. Mostly the button pushing is left to right, but at some points they give you instructions on which to push: “hidari” left, “naka” middle, or “migi” right. And sometimes that’s not what it sounds like they are saying! If you mess up, you risk losing medal opportunities (and thus breaking even).

      I think it’s a fun experience, but taking your Japanese friend is one of my recommendations! I also just might be really bad at slot machines…

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s