Exploring the Exciting World of PACHINKO in Japan

March 26, 2024


When you're in Japan and looking for an exhilarating experience, look no further than Pachi-Slot of PACHINKO, Japan’s public gambling game! In this article, we'll delve into the fascinating realm of PACHINKO, guiding you through its rules, gameplay, attractions, and even some tips on winning. So, let's embark on this thrilling adventure together!


PACHINKO is a popular gambling game in Japan that involves players borrowing balls from a PACHINKO parlor and inserting them into a PACHINKO machine. These balls can then be exchanged for prizes or cash. The PACHINKO machine itself is a captivating contraption with glass walls, numerous nails, and an LCD panel. To truly appreciate this unique game, visiting a PACHINKO parlor is highly recommended.

The rules of PACHINKO are straightforward: the more balls you accumulate, the more you win, while decreasing your ball count leads to the parlor's victory. Alongside everyday items like sweets, juice, and cigarettes, players can also acquire "special prizes" that can be exchanged for balls. If you take these special prizes to the cash exchange outside the parlor, they can be converted into cash.

PACHINKO can be a game of ups and downs. While it's a game of chance, there are people known as "PACHI-PRO" who make a living solely from playing PACHINKO, suggesting the existence of winning strategies. If you know any, please do share!

How to Play PACHINKO

1. Borrow Balls

To start playing, insert money into the "ball lending machine" located on the side of the PACHINKO machine. Look for a slot to insert bills, although some parlors may accept coins. Generally, bills ranging from 1,000 yen to 10,000 yen are accepted. It's wise to have at least 1,000 yen in your pocket. After inserting the money, press the "lend ball" button on the top plate of the machine, and the balls will be dispensed.

In many parlors, the money you put in is automatically charged to an IC card installed in the machine. So, when you leave the parlor, remember to settle any remaining balance on the IC card.

2. Shoot Balls

PACHINKO machines come in various types, often featuring tie-ups with popular anime, manga, or movies. However, the basic gameplay remains the same. Once you turn the handle located at the bottom right of the machine to the right, balls will be shot out and descend from the top to the bottom of the board, navigating through a maze of nails.

3. Aim for the Marked Hole

To win, you must skillfully guide the balls into the marked hole situated at the bottom center of the PACHINKO machine, commonly known as the "belly button." The more you turn the handle to the right, the more vigorously the balls will be launched. So, strive to find the perfect balance and aim for those marked holes!

4. Match Three Numbers

If the ball lands in the designated hole, the LCD panel in the middle of the PACHINKO machine will start rotating rapidly. This panel consists of three rows, each displaying a number from 1 onwards. If all three rows align, you're a winner! Combinations like "7, 7, 7" or "9, 9, 9" signify a win, while "3, 3, 7" or "4, 5, 5" represent a loss.

5. The Jackpot Rush

When you hit the jackpot, a thrilling period called "probability change" or "probability variation" ensues. During this time, the chances of hitting the jackpot increase significantly, allowing you to play with fewer ball losses. The aim of playing PACHINKO is to trigger this bonus time and revel in the feeling of winning the world.

6. Exchange for Prizes

Once you've amassed a considerable number of PACHINKO balls, it's time to exchange them for prizes. On jackpot days, carrying a case full of balls might be impractical, so you can press the call button and ask a staff member to count them. Accompanied by the clerk, head to the machine that measures the balls that have been dispensed. Once the tally is complete, you'll receive a receipt in exchange for the balls. Take this receipt to the prize exchange counter within the parlor and choose between items such as sweets, juice, daily necessities, cigarettes, or special prizes that can be converted into cash. If you opt for cash, there's a prize exchange located outside the PACHINKO parlor where you can make the transaction.

The Allure of PACHINKO

1. Beginner-Friendly Gameplay

PACHINKO is designed to be accessible to newcomers. As mentioned earlier, you can borrow balls with money, and the maximum rental fee for these balls is typically 4 Japanese yen per ball. But there's a minimum as well, which is 1 Japanese yen per ball, known as "1-PACHI." While the value of a 1-PACHI ball is one-fourth of a 4 Japanese yen ball when exchanging for prizes, it's a great way to get started and gradually familiarize yourself with the PACHINKO system before moving on to higher-value balls.

2. Captivating Performance

Modern PACHINKO machines are not limited to displaying mere numbers on their spinning LCD panels. Instead, they often feature tie-ups with popular animations, movies, singers, idols, comedians, and more. The performance on the LCD panel corresponds to the tie-up, creating an exhilarating experience. If your favorite anime or celebrity is associated with a PACHINKO machine, don't hesitate to give it a try. PACHINKO allows you to indulge in your hobbies and interests while enjoying the game.

3. The Potential to Make Money

Last but not least, let's talk about everyone's favorite subject: money. While there are other forms of public gambling in Japan, such as horse racing and boat racing, PACHINKO offers a hassle-free experience without the need for complex strategies. All you have to do is sit down and play PACHINKO! It's a straightforward way to earn money. Personally, I've won up to 120,000 yen on a single day, but I've heard stories of friends who have won up to 280,000 yen. With substantial winnings, you can even head straight to a "soap land" establishment!

Tips for Winning at PACHINKO

1. Target Machines with Higher Hits

When playing PACHINKO, it's crucial to consider probability.

For instance:

  • 10 rotations for 1,000 yen (10 hits) = 100 rotations for 10,000 yen
  • 20 rotations for 1,000 yen (20 hits) = 200 rotations for 10,000 yen

As you can see, even a small difference in hit count can have a significant impact over an extended period. If a machine's performance isn't satisfactory, consider giving up and moving to another one. It's also intriguing to observe patterns among machines in different parlors, especially those referred to as "corner machines."

A cluster of dozens of PACHINKO machines is known as a "territory." As the name suggests, corner machines are located in the corners of a territory. If the machines in the corner consistently perform well, it gives the impression that the parlor as a whole is successful. Additionally, the machines near the entrance of PACHINKO parlors often feature popular and newly released machines. This is done to create excitement and follows a similar logic to the corner machines.

2. Observe the Machine's Slope

The slope of a PACHINKO machine determines the ease with which balls roll and enter the belly button. Unfortunately, the slope isn't apparent at first glance. However, here's a handy trick: if you have a lighter or any object that can visualize liquid movement, attach it to the glass of the PACHINKO machine. By observing the liquid's agitation, you can infer the slope's steepness. A pronounced shaking of the liquid indicates a large slope, suggesting that the machine is favorable. We hope this tip proves useful, although we must confess it's a little unconventional. (Laughs)

3. Avoid Wasting Balls

When new to the game, it's easy to get caught up in the excitement of hitting the jackpot and end up shooting more and more balls. However, it's essential to exercise restraint. The PACHINKO system is designed to accumulate balls as they enter the machine in succession. Usually, only four balls can be stored in the belly button. Once four balls are present, shooting additional ones becomes futile. Once the winning rotation is over and one of the balls in the belly button is depleted, you can resume playing!

Behaviors to Avoid in PACHINKO Parlors

1. Do Not Mistreat the Machines

Avoid any actions like shaking, pulling, hitting, or punching the PACHINKO machine. Unfortunately, some individuals still engage in such behavior, resulting in loud noises and potential damage to the machines. Such actions are strictly frowned upon, and those caught doing so may face consequences, including being banned from the parlor.

2. Avoid Playing "4 PACHI" with "1 PACHI" Balls

As mentioned in the section on the allure of PACHINKO, this behavior is ill-advised. The payout rates for these two types of balls differ significantly. It might be tempting to think, "I don't have much money today, so I'll just play with 1 PACHI balls," or "If I played with 4 PACHI balls, I could quadruple my winnings!" While such sentiment is understandable, it's best to resist the urge.

3. Stick to One Machine at a Time

Playing multiple machines simultaneously is considered improper behavior. Stick to one PACHINKO machine per person. Avoid hogging machines for those who come after you or keeping a desirable machine solely because it becomes available while you're playing on another machine.

4. Obtain Permission for Extended Absences

If you need to leave your seat for an extended period, call a staff member and request a "meal break tag." This is particularly important if you anticipate being away for more than 10 minutes. It would be a shame to have your accumulated winnings confiscated simply because you forgot to obtain a "meal break tag" while having a fantastic time.

5. Respect Other Players' Balls

Even if you spot balls on the floor or left on an empty machine, refrain from playing with them as if they were your own. PACHINKO balls can be converted into money, so using someone else's balls without permission is akin to using their money without consent.

Who is Suited for PACHINKO?

PACHINKO appeals to various types of individuals. You might find yourself suited for PACHINKO if:

  • You have a strong grasp of probability.
  • You can make quick mathematical decisions.
  • You remain composed and don't get easily carried away.
  • You are determined to have fun.
  • You seek an effortless way to earn money.
  • You desire a hobby that offers easy enjoyment.
  • You want to win at PACHINKO and indulge in the nightlife.

Who is Not Suited for PACHINKO?

On the other hand, PACHINKO might not be the right fit if:

  • You struggle with numbers.
  • You find it challenging to control yourself when excitement sets in.
  • You can't afford to play PACHINKO.
  • PACHINKO fails to captivate your interest.


What are your opinions on PACHINKO, especially considering its association with gambling, boat racing, and horse racing? PACHINKO parlors remain accessible 365 days a year, providing abundant chances for engagement. Perhaps, starting with a few 1 PACHI balls could be a leisurely introduction. It's crucial to manage your excitement and ensure it doesn't overshadow your experience.

PIJ Writer
PIJ Writer
PIJ Writer, a seasoned connoisseur in his 40s based in Japan, boasts an unparalleled depth of knowledge and experience within the vibrant landscapes of both drinking and gambling, alongside his well-documented ventures into various red-light districts. This extensive exploration encompasses not just the nocturnal delights of Japan's red-light areas but also its myriad of bars, horse racing, pachinko, and many others. Drawing on his firsthand experiences, he conveys the appeal and characteristics of Japan's diverse adult entertainment districts and his enjoyment of the nightlife scene through his writing for PIJ.

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