The Pachinko Obsession: The Popular Japanese Game Explained

By Sarah Thomas
March 20, 2023

The Pachinko game is one of the most popular leisure activities in Japan. The game is a form of gambling that has become prevalent among most Japanese adults and has also garnered interest beyond the borders of Japan. Also, many tourists in the country are always eager to explore the people’s love for the game, so most visit pachinko parlors to try it out.

Pachinko is a mixture of slot machines and the classic pinball-type game. The players throw small steel balls into the Pachinko machine, aiming for the best numbers. The ball then goes through the barriers and bumps into a cup or hole with a specific prize amount.

And while it relies on luck to win, which is part of the fun, you must also have the skills to manage the gameplay. For instance, players must control the speed with which they launch the balls into the pachinko machine to win as many balls as possible.

Read on for more details about the famous Japanese game.


The Origins of Pachinko

Though Pachinko has gained immense popularity in Japan, the basis of the game originated in the United States. It’s inspired by an American Children’s game popularly called the ‘Corinthian Game’ in the 1920s. The adult version was introduced to Nagoya, Japan, in 1930 but gained little recognition since it was interrupted by the Second World War. The parlors remained closed during this period.

In 1948, the first commercial parlor was opened in Nagoya, primarily dedicated to the game. After that, many more parlors were opened throughout the country. The game has since become a vital part of Japanese culture. Also, the machines were initially mechanical until the 1980s, when electronic and more stylish pachinko machines were introduced.

And with the development of digital machines, modern game additions to the Pachinko games provide new features and challenges. For example, Plinko is a classic game of luck inspired by the Japanese Pachinko game. It has a simple gameplay whereby a player drops a chip on a multi-row pin pyramid and watches it bounce down the pins randomly until it lands on one of the possible prizes at the bottom.

Ideally, the final landing position of the ball determines your payout. Usually, you’re more likely to land bigger-prized rewards if you drop the ball at the edges of the pyramid. However, you might get a lower payout if it lands at the center. Fortunately, with platforms such as, you can bet on Plinko games online by predicting where the chip will land and win bitcoin if you guess correctly.

With Plinko, you should be smart about your gameplay by controlling the risk levels and payouts to hit higher jackpots. And just like any other game of chance, a win isn’t guaranteed, so you should have a spending plan when playing with real money.

How The Pachinko Game Works

Once you buy a set of balls, you should launch them inside the Pachinko machine in readiness to play. You can then spin the wheel, which fires the balls into special pockets that can win you countless new balls. Even so, some balls may roll down the machine and disappear, reducing your winning chances. That’s why it’s best to play with many balls so that even if others disappear, some may find their way into the special pockets.

Notably, the game’s skill is appropriately spinning the wheel to direct the balls into the specific pockets that trigger bigger jackpots. It earns you more balls and adds more opportunities to play and win. Even so, you can play it safe by trading your current winnings.

Where To Play Pachinko

Being Japan’s biggest gaming obsession, it’s likely that you’ll always find a Pachinko parlor nearby, regardless of the city or town you’re staying in or visiting. Most are gaudily decorated, and you’ll quickly recognize the glamor on the outside when walking along the streets. Also, you might be lucky to find a pachinko machine in one of the Japanese arcades.

The Prizes

The prize is usually calculated based on the number of balls you win. Typically, a special prize can be a gold or silver item in a special small plastic box. For instance, a player is awarded a special prize worth 1500 yen for every 400 balls won. You can trade this for cash outside the venue. Other prizes may include toys, pencils, lighters, or groceries and household appliances vouchers. Therefore, after you’re done with the game, you can take your ticket to the exchange center in the parlor to receive your prize.

Gambling In Japan

Most forms of gambling at online casinos are banned in Japan. However, Pachinko managed to circumvent the ban and is one of the legal gambling games in Japan. However, you cannot trade in your winnings within the pachinko premises. You can only place bets in the venue and cash your ticket at a separate location. Generally, the unpredictable nature of the game and the fun of gambling make it more fascinating.


Pachinko is one of the most-loved games in Japan played by most adults. It’s also an outlet for gambling in the country since players can gauge their lack and trade their winnings for real money outside the parlors. Therefore, the above are some elements to know about the game. Also, since it’s a game of skill and luck, you’d want to master the tips and tricks to win more balls and a bigger prize.



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Sarah Thomas poker author
Written By.

Sarah Thomas

Sarah Thomas is a content writer for entertainment websites. In her free time she enjoys playing all sorts of games, both live and online.

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