I was out and about the other night, a few train stops away from Shibuya in a somewhat more residential area when I saw it…a pachinko parlour! In both of my previous apartments in Tokyo in the 90s, I was out of the CBD (central business district for those of you who have happily forgotten high school geography) where pachinko parlours abound. Bright and flashing lights, horrendous colours clashing all surrounded by banners and fake flowers.
What is this pachinko you may ask. Basically an arcade for grown-ups. The game is a lot like pinball but apparently the point is to collect up as many little balls as possible. You then exchange them for prizes on site or coupons which you can apparently exchange for cash offsite. Gambling for cash is not allowed under Japanese law. Apparently gambling for coupons that can be exchanged for cash two doors down is ok 😉