Pachinko Parlours

The game of Pachinko is extremely popular in Japan, where it is played in establishments called “Pachinko Parlors”.

Pachinko parlours generally have a wide assortment of different Pachinko machines and often also feature a small number of other slot machines.

Under Japanese law, cash winnings cannot be paid out. So you will virtually always find a small exchange centre located nearby (or sometimes in a separate room from the game parlor itself) where players can conveniently exchange tokens for prizes for cash.

Such pseudo-cash gambling is theoretically illegal, but from the sheer number of pachinko parlors in Japan it is clear that the activity is at least tacitly tolerated by the authorities.

Pachinko parlors share the reputation of slot machine dens and casinos the world over —garish decoration, over-the-top architecture, the smell of tobacco, a low hanging haze of cigarette smoke, the constant din of the machines, and blinding levels of illumination to keep players entranced for hours in their games. Pachinko parlors are by far some of the most flamboyant and colorful buildings one can see in Japan.

Since Japan ratified the World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in 2004, many public anti-smoking laws have been passed. In 2006 a number of the laws began to be enforced. The pachinko parlor is one of the few places smokers can go where the regulations have not caught up with them. There are preliminary discussions in the Japanese Diet to extend public smoking controls to pachinko parlors; however, no legislation has yet been proposed.

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