Monday, July 19, 2010

Yay Japanese Marketing Pt. III

As gambling is illegal in Japan (not including national lotteries, scratch tickets, and horse racing) there is, for those with the urge to flush huge sums down a toilet without the damage to plumbing systems, pachinko, which provides endless hours of entertainment to those with the mental acuity of fruit (no offense meant to fruit). Pachinko is a game where a machine sucks up 10,000 yen notes like a vacuum on a late-night infomercial, and in return, it provides a small amount of ball bearings. These are fed into a large hole and are then shot out the top of what is always described as a pinball machine turned vertical. They then tumble down through a series of pegs, bouncing this way and that, until they eventually land in one of several holes. The player has some small amount of control over the speed at which the balls are shot out by means of a small doorknob-like device, but your choice of speed ranges from high speed to ever-so-slightly less than high speed (no doubt the quicker to separate you from your balls - make your own joke here). If you do manage (and by you I mean complex Newtonian physics beyond your calculation) manage to get a ball into certain holes, you are rewarded with even more silver balls.

Modern machines are similar to Vegas slot machines with the player having control over holding certain conditions etc., and these machines are called pachisuro, a portmanteau of pachinko and slot (pronounced, suroto). Pachinko parlors are usually deafeningly loud, smokey, and lit to induce seizures with blaring techno, pulsing lights, and seven lit cigarettes for each player. The balls can not be exchanged for money since gambling is illegal (aside from horse racing, the national lotto, scratch tickets, and boat racing which I previously forgot to mention). The balls can be traded for prizes and there are small storefronts, often little more than a literal hole-in-the-wall, that are desperate for such prizes and will pay money for them. These operations are located separate from, but conveniently next to, the parlor. So everything is clearly above the board.

Now where does the header of this post come into play?

Well, there are many parlors which call themselves pachisuro or sometimes Pachinko and Slot (because they have traditional slot machines that work on the same balls-prizes-cash triangular trade). One I pass everyday bears this awesome name:

Thank you for staying with me all the way for that punchline - hope it was worth it

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