Pachinko is the national pastime of Japanese men, and most anytime you drive by one of the many pachinko parlors around my house, you’ll see a parking lot nearly filled with cars. The point of the game is to take a bucket of silver balls that you buy from the proprietors and shoot them into a pinball-like machine, hopefully holding the controller at just the right angle that the balls will fall into certain holes in the machine, causing more balls to come out. If you are a “pachi-pro” or a person who’s really good at playing the game, you’ll end up with more balls than you started out with. Since gambling is illegal, you can’t redeem the balls for money, but you can exchange them for valuable prizes, which you take to a smaller business located next door to “sell” to get your money — a good example of tatemae (the way we pretend things are in society, though it’s all a big lie), which I wrote about last time. While I’m not personally a fan of loud, smoky pachinko parlors, the industry renders an important service for anime studios whenever they license famous shows to create Fist of the North Star-branded pachinko machines, so I can’t complain.
Pachinko is a huge industry in Japan.